Inspired by celebrities, watches and jewelry are taking on more sparkle, suppliers report. More importantly for retailers, consumers are buying and wearing more jewelry more often, and that means men, too.
To make the most of it, retailers need to show a selection that includes designs for men, women and children in popular current themes, according to Ann Matthews, general manager of Blake Brothers International Inc., based in Amherst, NH. This supplier covers the gamut of price points, jewelry categories and styles; "Everything but gold," Matthews says.
In addition to finished pieces, Blake Brothers also supplies findings, beads, beading wire, chains and charms, along with the tools necessary to make jewelry. That allows a retailer to provide custom tailored pieces, and customers like items that are designed just for them.
Among the company's themed categories of jewelry are Western, dragons, nautical and biker designs. It also carries toe rings and magnetic jewelry. In all, Blake Brothers has more than 6,000 designs in stock. Biker themed pieces are very popular now, Matthews reports.
She also says, "As the price of silver has risen, stainless steel has become very much in demand. We started cautiously with selections for men and women, and now these pieces are very hot."
Matthews is not alone in reporting increased demand for stainless steel jewelry. Center Court, based in Granger, IN, is also experiencing big demand for its stainless steel rings, according to Terry Roseberry, marketing director.
"A lot of people are jumping on stainless steel versus sterling silver," he says. His company offers more than 200 styles in stainless. "It's actually a better product," Roseberry contends, noting, "it doesn't tarnish; you don't have to clean it, and it doesn't cause any allergic reaction as silver does on some people."
Despite its name, even Sterling Forest, a company headquartered in New York City, has jumped on the stainless steel bandwagon. "It's doing very well," says Dinesh Kumar, owner.
In recognition that some retailers merchandise for high volume at lower margins, while others go, "for premium mark up," Matthews says Blake Brothers' staff talks with customers to assess their type of business. "We help guide them to a mix of products that will do best in their environment," she says, "and we also allow them to exchange items that do not meet their sell through expectations."
The company has about 100 different displayers, ranging from a single ring holder, which it sells for as little as 50 cents, to earring trays. "Jewelry is very competitive," Matthews says, "and in order to do well, retailers need to be really innovative."
"The prettier the display, the more money you'll make," agrees Kumar. Black, the traditional display background for jewelry, "has become boring," he says. "Now, backgrounds on the lighter side, such as pastels and even white, offer a more sophisticated look."
Because different styles do better in different markets, Sterling Forest will create customized starter kits for retailers, according to their type of market, geography, clientele and pricing differentials. "Customers in the New York area are more trendy," he says, "and tastes on the West coast are different from East coast buyers, while the South sometimes doesn't get into trends for a couple more months."
Sterling Forest carries all jewelry categories in styles for men, women and children, and has between 300 and 400 different units in each key category. "Designer look a like, or items inspired by designers are popular now," Kumar reports. "For the holiday, charms, especially in colors and with czs, are doing very well."
Chains and charms are also a big hit with Goldfathers Jewelry, which supplies layered gold product in all categories. Patty McClirk, VP of the company, located in Las Vegas, says, "When a retailer makes custom chain and charm combinations, it attracts customers' attention and has high appeal."
Goldfathers offers a kit that contains one spool each of its seven best selling chains. Each spool is 150 inches, and the kit also includes a cutter, display case and an instructional video in either CD or DVD form. It wholesales for $425, and McClirk says retailers typically get an eight time return, or a total of $3,400.
Goldfathers carries more than 3,000 charm designs and offers a kit of its 100 best sellers on an easel displayer for $175. Charms generally wholesale for $1.75 and retail for between $10 and $15 per charm. Because the mark up on both chains and charms is so substantial, "there's room for a retailer to combine them and offer a free charm with a chain."
In all, Goldfathers offers more than 30 different starter kits. In addition to kits for chains and charms, there are kits for each category of finished jewelry. That includes bracelets, earrings and bangle bracelets. An assortment of 12 best selling ladies bracelets, for example, is offered in a display tray for $99 wholesale. McClirk says retailers typically obtain a five time mark up.
True to its name, American Earrings, based in Los Angeles, specializes in earrings in 14 karat gold and silver. All are for pierced ears, and the company also carries body piercing jewelry. Johnny Ortega, owner, says its silver units, targeted primarily to teens, are very colorful. "This market loves fashion and sparkle," he says.
Sample packs include one that contains 18 gold studs with czs, with six each of three different sizes, along with gold posts. It wholesales for $120 and typically returns about $360 at retail. Another contains 150 pair of silver earrings in assorted designs that also wholesales for $120 and provides a return of $360 on the investment. Larger sample packs of both gold and silver earrings are also available.
Among the innovative pieces from Center Court are see-through lockets that can be personalized. Necklaces are the main use, but bracelets and key chains are also available. It also carries charms, stretchy bracelets and other finished pieces, and offers a wide range of innovative displays.
"One display looks like a grand piano," Roseberry says. There are also cherry wood trays containing 60 units, and one, two, three and four sided cherry wood spinner displays that hold 60 units per side. "We field test every display," he says. The company also offers acrylic units and a lockable case.
Center Court has nearly 300 different charms in a variety of themes, including styles that relate to favorite destinations. "Charms sell very, very well," Roseberry reports.
Watches are jewelry and also accessories. Gone are the days when people had just one watch, according to Jeff Barnett, CEO of Tickers in Vancouver, and Michael DiLeo, president of Any Time Wholesale in Thorndale, PA.
Any Time Wholesale carries about 1,000 different styles that wholesale in a range of $3.50 to $7 a unit and retail from $12.95 to $29.95 a unit. It also supplies, "all the tools needed to service watches," DiLeo says. "We always encourage retailers to do battery replacement. It takes five minutes and has a huge return." He notes that batteries wholesale for about 40 cents a unit and sell for $8 to $10 each. "While the battery's being replaced, the customer is browsing," he adds. "It is a wonderful way to get additional watch sales."
Watch fashion is ever changing, DiLeo adds. Current favorites for men are large faced, "hip hop styles, covered in diamonds," he reports. Teens love hip hop styles, too, and women are currently buying bangle watches, especially with faux diamonds.
Tickers also carries popular priced watches that Barnett says typically retail for under $20 a piece and often under $15. He agrees that bangle watches for ladies, "are unbelievably popular now," and, "heavy metal, hip hop styles influenced by rock singers are a hit with men."
Tickers' Velcro watches are also popular with men, according to Barnett. Dual time watches that show the time in two different time zones are also popular, especially for travelers.
For kids, Tickers offers a watch that teaches children how to tell time. It has "hour" and "minute" spelled out on the corresponding watch hands. A lady bug pattern is also popular with kids, and Spider Man, the official licensed character watch, is a runaway hit with boys.
Tickers offers a starter kit of 10 assorted units for a wholesale price of $70, and it will assemble a customized assortment for its retailer customers. The company also creates custom watch designs.
In a time pressed world, any time is time for selling watches. And jewelry is always in demand. And holiday time is prime time for both watches and jewelry.
The following people at these companies were interviewed for this article:
Johnny Ortega, owner
650 South Hill Street, Ste. 210
Los Angeles, CA 90014
Toll Free: 800-795-6927
Michael DiLeo, president
Any Time Wholesale
55 North Bailey Road
Thorndale, PA 19372
Toll Free: 888-333-3722
Ann Matthews, general manager
Blake Brothers International Inc.
Seven Northern Boulevard
Amherst, NH 03031
Toll Free: 800-825-2538
Terry Roseberry, marketing director
6910 North Main Street
Granger, IN 46530
Patty McClirk, vice president
3230 East Flamingo Road, Ste. 8-354
Las Vegas, NV 89121
Toll Free: 800-642-2545
Dinesh Kumar, owner
New York, NY 10001
Toll Free: 888-925-6255
Jeff Barnett, chief executive officer
8838 Heather Street, Ste. 102
Vancouver, BC, Canada V6P 3S8
Toll Free: 866-669-2604
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