Incredible Ippolita

Ippolita's Rose collection

If you asked an average American woman to name five fine jewelry brands she would probably say Tiffany’s, David Yurman, Harry Winston and after that would probably be left scratching her head for more. Even though the fine jewelry industry is in the “fashion business”, somehow fine jewelry brands don’t seem to bubble up in the public consciousness. I think the industry has billed themselves as sellers of boring commodities versus being  “must-have”  fashion brands in their own right. It is an industry asleep at the wheel, still dominated by small local retailers and dull-as-dust mall stores. Most style icons pine for the bolder statements created  by the so-called “fashion jewelry”  (costume) companies, currently dominated  by Kate Spade, Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, J Crew, BCBG and others.

Then there is Ippolita. This Tuscan-born, Italian-American designer of contemporary fine jewelry is soon-to-be a bigger household name. Ippolita is coming on strong with her marketing of modern precious jewelry for the fashion obsessed. Her online and traditional media is sexy and compelling in a trendsetting, casual style. This multi-disciplinary sculptress, glass artist and acclaimed jewelry designer started in private label costume jewelry in the 90’s and then introduced her first fine jewelry collection in 2000.

Her  modern risk-taking designs and casually layered style is destined for brand greatness in a sea of solitaires and yawn-inducing tennis bracelets. She layers bold, handcrafted pieces encrusted with gems in a modern melange.  Wake up and smell the espresso, this quiet little Ferrari is passing everyone on the right! Ippolita is poised to take advantage of the sturdy luxury market; as she doesn’t dish up the same safe, traditional styling found in most fine jewelry.

I have particularly fallen for her Riviera Sky (multi-colored stones set in 18K gold), Glamazon (bold silver and gold classic statement pieces like 3″ hoops and chains), Rock Candy (gemstones set in contemporary gold and silver settings) and Rose (rose gold collection of solid metals).

The sexy, modern Wicked collection.

Tiffany’s Breakfast

11/30/12  Tiffany’s shares slid 6.25% yesterday as their 3rd quarter results missed Wall Street expectations. The lack of demand is blamed on high diamond and precious metal prices. I am not buying this, as it been the case for several years. Mark Aaron, Tiffany’s investor relations chief told the Wall Street Journal that weak consumer demand was “part of the reason”, especially sales of silver jewelry.

I believe, as I did last January, that they haven’t introduced any exciting collections lately in the aspirational luxury (silver) area. Whimsical fashion and inspirational jewelry like charm bracelets, have been on fire in recent years. They have abdicated this to the likes of Pandora and others. Mark Aaron admitted to the WSJ, that “merchandise priced above $500 dollars saw in most cases, growth in sales and units”.

The aspirational luxury customer loves Tiffany’s, when there is a compelling assortment.

1/16/2012

Tiffany’s cut their earnings outlook for 2011, citing a weakness in North America for 4th quarter…a dismal 4% gain in North American sales. Analysts are trying to make sense of it suggesting that perhaps the fine jewelry customer is buying technology instead. This doesn’t square with the fact that other luxury retailers had a decent holiday and iPhones and iPads aren’t that expensive.

My take on the situation is lack of exciting new items for the aspirational customer in Tiffany’s this fall like their “well-knocked off”  key collection in the past. Other stores are eating Tiffany’s breakfast. I saw sign-in sheets and long

Tiffany’s collection of bags by designers Lambertson & Truex are exceptionally beautiful!

lines outside the Pandora jewelry stores,  just for chance to get a few expensive baubles for their already “over-indulged” teens, wives and girl friends.

On a positive note, their bags by designers Lambertson and Truex take my breath away!

Dix&Pond is the blog of www.dixandpond.com Creative and strategic consulting for retail and wholesale apparel, shoe and consumer product companies.

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