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Jewelry Sparkles on the Web

Apr 1, 2007
by Christopher Heine

The jewelry business is much like a diamond: There are so many micro niches and interesting products, this industry appears at least slightly different, whenever you look at it from another angle. Undoubtedly, it is a marketplace that changes daily.

For instance, consider the rollercoaster ride that the price of hard minerals such as gold, silver and diamonds has been on in recent months. Simply put, affordable rings, necklaces and bracelets are sometimes difficult to come by.

That is why a number of wholesalers are mixing up their authentic, "rock solid," jewelry with high quality Cubic Zirconia, otherwise known as CZ. Most likely the best diamond substitute available today, CZ has been established as an affordable diamond replacement, as well as an important fashion staple itself.

Top U.S. wholesalers like Plum Island Silver Company (www.plumislandsilver.com), SilverSource.com (www.silversource.com) and Goldfather's Jewelry have been leading the way in servicing the growing market.

"Part of our product line is CZ, because they allow merchandisers to offer a wider range of consumers something that is both affordable and good looking," said Bill McClirk, president of Goldfather's Jewelry in Las Vegas. "We have seen Zirconia bracelets, earrings and toe rings all do really well. These types of products have been getting ordered by both our catalog and website customers."

McClirk's firm was an early web wholesaler on the scene, having been online for more than 10 years at www.goldfathers.com. The site offers both traditional and modern birthstone product lines for each month in the calendar year. "People are now finding us through both the site and trade magazines," he explained. "In the past, it would just be trade magazines producing sales prospects. Now, we get prospects from both sources."

For the last several months, the industry veteran has seen his line of Birthstone Babies fly out of the warehouse. These decorative accessories for baby necklaces are available for girls and boys. A 30 unit mixed box for both genders cost $99, which should reap an estimated profit of $650.

"Oh man, do they sell fast," explained McClirk, who has run the business with his wife, Patty, since 1983. "Everyone wants them, in terms of mothers, friends of the mother, grandmothers, aunts, you name it. We have been selling to gift shops, mall kiosks, swap meets and baby stores. They are ordering and reordering them. That is the best kind of feedback about a product, in my opinion, when the customer reorders it."

Cellphone Accessories Heat Up
Without question, the consumer electronics industry continues to sprawl, with hundreds of new gadgets hitting the scene every month. And nothing is hotter right now than mobile devices, whether one is dealing with MP3 players, video game units or the growing number of smart cell phones. When it comes to the latter, Melissa Rodriquez, president of Pro Charms Inc., has been ahead of the curve with her decorative line of, "Cell Charms," for all major professional and college sports teams.

"Fans who want to show their team loyalty just love them," Rodriguez said. "They want to express their individuality through the cell phones they carry around all day and every day. The Cell Charms are similar in that nature to ring tones. People are personalizing their mobile phones more and more, and I have seen it in my sales. You have to remember almost everyone has a cell phone these days. And people generally do not want to be like everybody else."

She wholesales the Cell Charms for $5 per unit. Meanwhile, they usually retail for $10 to $15 at sporting goods stores, Hallmark shops, college oriented gift outlets and pet product outlets. Mostly targeting teens up to thirtysomethings, Rodriquez also offers team oriented naval rings, dog tags, key chains, watches, leather cuff bracelets, sunglasses, purses and actual house keys at www.procharms.com.

"I would say the dog tags are currently our second hottest line of items," she explained. "One thing our customers get is a high level of service. We ship the same day as the order comes in. If the customer needs something there tomorrow, we are going to make sure that they have it. We are always here to answer the phone, take orders and give whatever assistance is needed."

Alamode Rides Jewelry Wave
In recent years, jewels have had manifold growth as a worldwide industry, with the help of the Internet. There have been various Internet retailers such as Ice.com, BlueNile.com and Jewelry.com that have taken advantage of the burgeoning niche. But there have also been wholesalers getting into the act and leveraging the global power of the web.

"We have seen our web sales triple in the last three years," said Richard Chen, ecommerce manager of Alamode Jewelry in Garden Grove, CA. "Over 85 percent of our sales are in rings. That is our major product line; and what makes it attractive to our retailer customers and their consumer customers is that we offer a great variety of rings. Some companies will only offer 1,000 or 2,000 products on their websites. But we offer more than 8,000. And we present them well online. The combination of selection and presentation gives us an edge."

As Chen suggested, his company offers stylish multitudes of exclusive, novelty and discount rings at www.alamodeonline.com. Minimum orders are $200 for the items. What's more is that Alamode recently completed the third version of its website, adding various types of banner ads that pitch special offers to retailers. For instance, this month the banner offers a Mother's Day sale.

Perhaps most impressively, later this year, retailers are going to be able to customize rings for their store selections. Consider the potential for occasions like weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and even rites of passages such as, "Sweet 16s," bar mitzvahs and first communions. Such once in a lifetime gifting moments have personalization written all over them. As ecommerce manager of his firm, Chen clearly understands the innovative potential of the web and the rewards that can be reaped.

"Retailers can take customized orders from their individual customers and we can deliver on that promise of personalization," he said. "We are very excited about the ability to work hand in hand with our clients in order to serve the end user."

La Silver Has The Bling-Bling
Body piercing has been popular for too long to simply call it a fad anymore. Indeed, the fashion statement, once relegated to biker gangs, carnival workers and wayward seamen, is here to stay as a means of self expression for, "kids of all ages."

One firm that has been at the forefront of marketing to this niche is L.A. Silver, which can be found at www.2silver.com and www.99centbodyjewelry.com. The company's slogan is, "Body Jewelry for Pennies," and the prices do not belie the phrase. Many items can be had for 19 cents, 49 cents and 99 cents per unit.

"We pride ourselves on the best pricing, top quality products and creating repeat customers due to our excellent service," said a company spokesman. "We do very well with an array of gift shops, skateboard shops, tee shirt stores, bike shops, flea markets, mall kiosks and other retailers who market to 18 to 30 year olds. Belly rings and tongue rings do very well. But nothing is doing better right now than grillz. That is our marquee item right now."

The grillz are worn in the user's mouth and over the teeth in order to get the bling effect popularized by many rap and hip hop artists. They come in numerous designs. However, they are higher end than L.A. Silver's other lines, costing $99 for 11 units.

To that end, the company has been offering web only rebates for the last 18 months, and has been seeing excellent results. In the highest dollar example, buyers that exceed $2,970 are awarded 50 free pieces of jewelry and $100 cash back. On the lowest end, orders of $247 and up still get 10 complimentary jewelry pieces and $5 back.

"People really like the rebates, and it has encouraged them to use the faster online ordering process rather than calling it in," the spokesman explained. "We introduced our ecommerce in 1999, and we have seen our orders move from phone to web at about a 30 percent clip, year by year. As soon as they all figure out it is easier for them to do it that way, it sure makes things easier for us in terms of operations."

Bellagio's Rhinestone Jewelry
There is a prevailing idea that nearly all jewelry (if not all product) is being made in Asia or some other location an ocean or two away from American soil. But that is not the case, as jewelry artisanship has been a growing phenomena in the American craftsperson community for the last 20 years. Because of the trend, there is a plethora of gorgeous homegrown product that can be taken to market.

"Eighty percent of the jewelry you see on our website is made in the U.S.A.," said Nur Ahmed, president of Bellagio Jewelry in Los Angeles. "Many of our finer products are actually made nearby our warehouse location, within driving distance here in southern California. Our customers appreciate the American made quality that you can find with the products at our website."

Some of the world's finest earrings, necklaces, lariats and chokers can be discovered in the precious and semi precious stone categories at www.bellagiojewelry.com. Minimum orders at the site are $200, and have been growing month over month, Ahmed said. Meanwhile, he supplements his American made product stock with a choice selection of imports from India.

"Our rhinestone bangles or bracelets are very popular with our retailer client audience," Ahmed explained. "They are not cheaply made imitations. Plus, we have the type of service it takes to keep customers coming back. If we get an order in the morning, it is out the door in the afternoon. If we get one in the late afternoon, the latest it leaves our warehouse is the next day. And I believe in a personal touch when it comes to the wholesale business. We honestly do not care if you call us 20 times before ordering. Getting it right is most important."

Companies in this article:

Goldfather's Jewelry
3230 E. Flamingo Rd. Suite 8 #354
Las Vegas, NV 89121
Tel.: 702-891-8836
Toll Free: 800-642-2545
Website: www.goldfathers.com

Pro Charms, Inc.
P.O. Box 980383
West Sacramento, CA 95798
Tel.: 916-371-2556
Toll Free: 866-371-2556
Fax: 916-371-7374
Website: www.procharms.com

Alamode Fashion Jewelry
10152 Chapman Avenue
Garden Grove, CA 92840
Tel.: 714-636-4237
Toll Free: 800-622-4404
Fax: 714-530-1824
Website: www.alamodeonline.com

L.A. Silver, Inc.
330 Golden Shore
Suite #230
Long Beach, CA 90802
Tel.: 562-432-6776
Toll Free: 800-624-8669
Website: www.2silver.com

Bellagio Jewelry
1015 S. Main St.
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Tel.: 213-622-3555
Fax: 213-627-4008
Website: www.bellagiojewelry.com

Plum Island Silver Corp.
PO Box 60
West Newbury, MA 01985
Tel.: 978-499-8203
Toll Free: 800-543-7177
Fax: 978-499-8208
Website: www.plumislandsilver.com

2118 Wilshire Blvd. #1155
Santa Monica, CA 90403-5784
Tel.: 310-828-8922
Toll Free: 888-925-RING
Website: www.silversource.com

Topic: Product Trends

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Article ID: 120

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