Connecting the Dots

With pearls jewelers have many chances to connect the dots for their customers from fashion and gifts to symbolism and history. Pearls have adorned royals and celebrities, babies and brides, women of style spanning cultures and centuries.

“Almost everyone has an emotional connection to pearls,” says Kathy Grenier, vice president of business development for Imperial, Providence, Rhode Island. She advocates jewelers push pearl as a gem for all lifestyle and life stages.

For Atlanta-based Benchmark brand partner and designer, Sara Blaine, pearls heirloom quality inspires thoughts of her mother and grandmother, daughter and granddaughter. “Pearls connect generations.”

Pearls are regaled as the hottest gem in jewelry, accessories and fashion design, rocking runways and red carpets with chameleon-like ease—accenting everything from business and bathing suits to cocktail dresses and jeans.

Versatility is a big theme in pearls, with long necklaces, lariat styles, and transformable jewelry trending. Grenier cites Imperial’s Luster & Links and SmartPearls collections that connect pearl necklaces and bracelets and move pearls on chain. Pearl tassels remain a key design element, with seed pearls popular in designs like wide band rings and inside-out hoop earrings.

Chokers, bold rings, and fashion pearls and gemstones are among the on-trend styles jewelers should have on hand, alongside classic pearl strands and studs, says Cora Lee Colaizzi, director of marketing and catalogs and senior merchandiser Quality Gold, Fairfield, Ohio.

Pearls and yellow gold is popular, says Dana Cali, marketing and communications for Mastoloni, New York City, who also cites architectural and geometric styles, front-back earrings, delicate pearl rings for stacking, and designs mixing white pearls with black diamonds. “Fresh and affordable reigns in trend pieces and modern elevated classics.”

Wendy Fox, senior director of sales independent division for Honora, a New York based Richline brand, touts freshwater and South Sea pearls and mother-of-pearl in organic and contemporary styles, with lots of movement and different chain applications trending. “Looks from large fashion pearl and gemstone designs to delicate gold layering pieces are popular.”

Pearls have a special history as the ideal wedding gem. But brides today are looking for sophisticated styling for themselves and their bridal party. Grenier reports that half the pearls sold for bridal are in classic styles including high luster Akoya; while the other half are fashion-forward and embrace color. Cali notes that brides are going for designs that can be worn beyond the wedding day, with front-back convertible styles among the favorites.

Pearl styles between $25 to $200 retail are ideal for bridesmaid gifts and day-of-wedding jewels, identifies Fox. “Many times the independent jeweler loses the sale to costume jewelry because consumers think pearls are too expensive.” But she cites lots of options in price, style and variety like Honora’s bridesmaids program that includes 16 colors to correspond with popular dress hues.

Pearls remain the ideal gift for any occasion, from birthdays and anniversaries to a graduation, new job and birth of a child. You can’t go wrong gifting pearls to your mate on Valentine’s Day or mom on Mother’s Day. Pearls represent pure love and are an iconic gift that is always appropriate. Birthstone for June, pearls are polished and poised, playful and pioneering. They signify new beginnings, and represent the purity, generosity, integrity, and loyalty of its wearer.

More classic pieces like studs and pearls with diamonds for earrings and pendants are favorites for gifting, says Cali. She cites stud earrings with interchangeable jackets as bestsellers.

Next to bridal, the youth market is a powerful niche to promote pearls, advises Fox. She sees pearls as a great category that can nurture the tradition of family gifting of jewelry to kids and teens. She advises jewelers identify products, both classic and fashion to sell to this market.

Colaizzi advocates jewelers stock boxed sets with various pearl jewelry combinations like studs and bracelet, studs and pendant, or studs, bracelet and pendant so all price points are covered. Box sets that include pearls with polished ball studs or earring jackets as alternatives make great gift options.”

If you want to be successful selling pearls, jewelers must become a destination for pearls. Developing a selection of pearls to suit your market is essential, and knowing your customers is key to creating a compelling pearl department.

Merchandise in levels to cover every customer, says Colaizzi. Cali stresses assortment not only in style and design, but also price points.

Consider at least one showcase devoted to pearls, says Grenier, who advocates jewelers present pearls as they suggest items be worn. “Don’t just arrange pieces because they go together or are sold as a set. Put concepts together for your customers—pair classic with trendy, pearls with non-pearls. Create visuals that start conversations.”

Blaine advocates at least one sales associate wear pearls. “Stay abreast of current trends like stacking and layering and show people how they can translate the hottest looks in their own style with pearls,” she says. Cali adds that Facebook and Instagram are effective platforms to illustrate styling ideas.

Whenever possible, Grenier encourages jewelers to get pearls into the hands of their customers. “When you hold pearls there’s a warmth and life to them that draw you in. Pearls beg to be touched.”