Jewelry Designers Talk Displays
by Heather DeSimone
A common theme of discussion that comes up on our store between the staff & our shopping friends, and with my new designer friends on Twitter, centers around how bead artists & jewelry designers should display their work for sale. There are loads of ways that a designer can showcase their lovelies and set themselves apart, not only for the style of their jewelry, but in the choices that are made when presenting their jewelry. In our current short-attention span culture, branding is so incredibly important when it comes to grabbing that would-be customer's attention. A big part of creating that image or 'brand' for your jewelry is found in its display or presentation.
Many artists offer their wares using a multi-media approach. For example, you might sell your earrings & necklaces at local craft shows, in galleries as well as online on Etsy.com or your own website. Display & presentation is key in all of these & other forms of selling.Craft Show Displays
Your jewelry designs say something. Perhaps you work in bright bold colors for a crisp modern look. Or maybe you prefer soft subtle tones accented by aged brass or filigree for a Victorian look of yesteryear. Whatever your designs say, you need to say it louder with your displays at shows. If your style is retro modern, you displays should match this: perhaps hit your local vintage shop and find some fiestaware plates and pitchers to glue or rivet into your own custom 3-tiered displays. These are great for laying out your earrings on carts or draping with necklaces and bracelets. Maybe you are the romantic Victorian-era designer: your table should be draped with vintage lace scraps all in subtle ecru & white colors. You can also use Depression glass or white milk glass to glue together, stack or fill with your offerings. Your table should be a reflection of the style that you've worked so hard to develop in your jewelry. The black velvet trays & necklace displays work & can make for a nice presentation. But when it comes to becoming a 'brand' you want to be sure that your look is conveyed from 10 feet away when someone is deciding whether or not to approach your table.Selling Online or 'The InterWeb'
Continuing that theme of the importance of branding, when shooting photos of your jewelry to put on your website or another e-commerce site, you want to be sure you're again, backing up your own style with your background and photo accent choices. There are certainly times when you want to stick to a clean white background and let your work speak for itself. This is especially important if you are taking photography to present to an art gallery or for archiving in yoru portfolio. However, when you are using an online venue to develop your brand, the 'other stuff' you include in your photos can again be manipulated to support your look. If you are offering hand-felted pins with beaded accents, you might think about presenting them on top of some hand-made paper loaded with fibers. If you are shooting photos of your sea glass jewelry, you might consider using beach sand or even sandpaper as a backdrop. Filling your image with too many 'things' is a delicate balance. In fact, I personally believe the most successful images don't feature other accent items (seashells, extra sea glass, other stray beads) no matter how pretty or in keeping with your theme. Jewelry is macro, so make sure you're striving to find the balance between complimenting yoru work in your photos & distracting from it.Selling by Appointment
An extra challenge to your presentation is when it has to be made for 'on the road' sales. You need something that is in keeping with your brand presentation, but also might have to be folded up into easy-peasy-rice & cheesy sizes. Look around - visit your favorite local haunts: flea markets, vintage shops, HomeGoods, ebay, ContainerStore.com or other boutiques. Look for tableware, luggage, totes, organizer bins & other containers and tray-type items. I have a line of jewelry that takes on a retro-Preppy edge. I found these amazing cases at HomeGoods a few years ago that were my signature lime green & fuchsia colors and they came in 3 sizes. I bought them all! It was a big investment to make all at once, but I knew that if I didn't grab these, they'd pass me by. Make sure you're ready to jump when you find that right thing. I have gone back & forth for a while as to what 'fits' in them best & ended up ordering custom trays that go inside. It's been an investment that has been well worth it in the long-term. The presentation at stores I sell to is totally cohesive to the look of the jewelry I sell. So when I'm meeting with someone for the first time, they get a good idea of what I'm about just by looking at the cases in my hands. Look for travelling containers that
work with your look. Perhaps you design with gemstone beads and only fine gold. You want the high-end look of a fine jewelry store, but you're sick of the velvet and grey totes that are sold in every jewelry supply catalog. Think of customizing a tackle box with patinas or spray on ahdsive paint/textures from your local craft shop. You can use the regular jewelry trays, but cover those velvet pads with some hand-made paper that features gold flecks of glitter. Use U-pins to tack in yoru work but then wrap the trays in some silk fabric that has been hemmed. When you have put in that extra work to reinforce the style & the quality of your jewelry, any store or gallery owner will be well on their way to being impressed.
There are so many ways you can display your jewelry - this article could go on and on. Please send along your ideas and things that have worked well for you in the past. You can email me at
. Perhaps I'll share your ideas in my next installment.
I've recently been Tweeting on Twitter.com
. It's a great way to network with people who share common interests & I've developed some great new relationships there with some amazing designers, among others. I asked what they use & what is their favorite vintage or recycled item they use to display their jewelry. Here are a couple of ideas they were willing to share...
@bearchick on Twitter - I once stuffed a red velvet wrist-length glove and used that to display bracelets. See her Etsy shop of jewelry at http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5175580
@GemmaBeads on Twitter - I use vintage suitcases, cake plates, doilies, etc. They feel like they are in a boutique not a store. Visit her funky pendants & jewelry designs at http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5262254
@ontheround on Twitter - I use a recyled piece of wallpaper for my photographs. I love it & God help me if something ever happens to it... Check out her fibers, felted bangles (totally cool!) here at her Etsy shop http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5539204.
Follow me on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/beadinpath
Heather DeSimone is the inconsistent blogger of 'What's In Store' on BeadinPath.com. She has been one of the 2 co-owners of The Beadin' Path & BeadinPath.com since 1993. Aside from owning a bead store, she has her own line of jewelry called Leetie Lovendale (www.Leetie.Etsy.com
), is Mom to 2 young boys (Max and Alex) and wife to Chris for 10 years. She has had jewelry and beadwork articles published in all the beading mags as well as some features in books but doesn't love to toot her own horn.