The Gift of Pearls
Pearls remain the ideal gift for any occasion, from birthdays and anniversaries to graduation and a new job to a wedding 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. Pearls are believed to attract wealth and luck, as well as offer protection. Known for their calming effect, pearls can balance one’s karma, as well as strengthen relationships. They signify new beginnings, and represents the purity, generosity, integrity, and loyalty of its wearer.
Designer Sara Blaine, a Benchmark brand partner in Atlanta, Georgia cites pearls’ heirloom quality that makes her think of her mother and grandmother, as well as her daughter and granddaughter. She sees pearls connecting generations—past, present and future.
“Pearls have a story to tell. Almost everyone has an emotional connection to pearls,” concurs Kathy Grenier, vice president of business development for Imperial, Providence, Rhode Island. She advocates jewelers push pearls as a lifestyle gem, for its variety and because of the sentiments pearls reflect.
More classic pieces like studs and pearls with diamonds for earrings and pendants are most popular for gift giving, says Dana Cali, marketing and communications for Mastoloni, New York City. She cites stud earrings with interchangeable jackets as bestsellers—the perfect add-on sale, wardrobe-building gift and self-purchase.
Bride & Party
Pearls have a special history as the ideal wedding gem. The start of the centuries-old tradition of pearls as the perfect adornment for the bride dates back to an ancient Hindu story of Kirshna, the protector, who gathered pearls from the sea to give his daughter on her wedding day.
Brides are looking for sophisticated styling for themselves and their bridal party, which they’re able to find for good value with pearls. Grenier reports that half the pearls sold for bridal are in classic styles like high luster Akoya; while the other half are fashion-forward and embracing color as found in the freshwater and South Sea varieties.
Earrings are a strong category in pearls, says Cali, and particularly popular for bridal. She notes that brides are going for designs that can be worn beyond the wedding day, with front-back convertible styles among their favorites.
Pearl styles between $25 to $200 retail are ideal for bridesmaid gifts and day-of-wedding jewelry, identifies Wendy Fox, senior director of sales independent division for Honora, a New York City based Richline brand. “Many times the independent jeweler loses the sale to costume jewelry for wedding day looks and bridal party gifts because consumers thinks pearls are too expensive.” But she cites lots of options in price, style and variety in pearls.
Cora Lee Colaizzi, director of marketing and catalogs and senior merchandiser Quality Gold, Fairfield, Ohio advocates jewelers stock boxed sets that contain various pearl jewelry combinations. “Have sets that include studs and bracelet, studs and pendant, or studs, bracelet and pendant so all price points are covered. Pearl sets with polished ball studs or earring jackets as alternatives are great gift options during prime selling seasons.”
Girls & Pearls
Next to bridal, the youth market is a powerful niche to promote pearls, says Fox. She believes there’s a real disconnect in family gifting of jewelry to kids and teens, but sees pearls as a great category that can nurture the tradition. She advises jewelers identify products, both classic and fashion that they can sell for this market and highlight them for customers in displays and marketing.
In the youth category, Honora Girls has been popular for the brand, including pearls mixed with chain and leather, stud and strand sets, stackable bracelets, and pendants with symbols like hearts and crosses. Last year the brand debuted its Mommy and Me pendant and earring sets. This year, Honora Girls launched a collection in mother-of-pearl and silver designs with bars, stars, and hearts.
Grenier also advocates the build a pearl necklace concept, like Imperial’s Pearl-by-Pearl program, with single pearls gifted over a girl’s childhood—from baby to bride! Available in 3mm-9mm Akoya, pearls are sold loose and as a starter necklace on 14K gold chain, helping to build the connection with the family jeweler for gifts of jewelry to symbolize life events and special moments.
Pearls are a staple for all girls and starting them young offers jewelers a profitable gift center that can build customers, concurs Colaizzi, who encourages jewelers to stock a well-balanced children’s line in multiple colors of pearls.