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A Little Romance

Costume jewelry and accessories are adding a touch of sparkle to challenging times, according to buyers attending two Paris trade shows.

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PARIS — Costume jewelry and accessories are adding a touch of sparkle to challenging times, according to buyers attending the Eclat de Mode and Premiere Classe trade shows, which ended their four-day run here Jan. 27.

While luxury goods have suffered in recent months, retailers at Eclat de Mode were confident that consumers will continue to purchase low-cost items to boost their spirits.

“Fantasy jewelry is not affected as dramatically as high-end jewelry because the investment is different,” said Sylvia Buhler, buyer at L’Arcade, a 1,100-square-foot jewelry boutique in Geneva.

“People still want pretty things, though they may not want to spend as much as a few years ago,” agreed Lannah Dunn, owner of Lannah Dunn Fine Jewelry in Toowoomba, Australia.

To that end, Dunn took a price-conscious approach to purchases and was seeking colorful yet conservative pieces for spring.

However, Andrea Cusi, buyer for the 120-door Sanborns drugstore chain based in Mexico, was adjusting her buying habits. Due to the difficult economic climate, Cusi said she was shopping with a tighter budget than previous seasons and noted that she was looking at both ends of the price spectrum.

“I’ll be looking for less expensive items and high-end pieces for people who are still buying,” she said.

Louise Massey, owner of the two-door Dublin-based Concepts, was also taking a conservative approach to the season and planned to buy less than usual, reordering later if necessary. “I’m looking for nice gems and color,” she added.

“I only buy colored items,” said Diana Wilson, owner of Diana Wilson Jewelry, a small shop-in-shop in the Channel Islands. Wilson noted that bigger is better for spring jewelry and added that she had found some oversized copper pieces at the Satellite booth.

“There’s a return to bigger jewelry,” said Daniel Ouaki, president of Satellite, a jewelry collection. “It’s not like it was in the Eighties, but it’s in that spirit. Consumers want more spectacular pieces.”

Among Satellite’s bestsellers was the “Mona” collection, which featured orange, blue, mauve, topaz, turquoise and pink stones, and ranged in retail price from $32.50 for a pair of earrings to $325 for a bracelet.

At Premiere Classe, buyers were garnering inspiration instead of consternation from world affairs for their purchases.

“I think military items will be important, but with a touch of femininity,” said Vicky Karayiannis, owner of Le Bustier, a 900-square-foot accessories and apparel store in Athens, Greece. Karayiannis was keeping her budget on a par with last year and was looking for green and beige accessories.

“All military items are working well,” said Yann Ducarouge, general manager of accessories firm Lollipops. A cargo bag in khaki retailing for $59.50 was among the company’s bestsellers.

However, not all buyers had military engagements in mind.

“At times like these, people need fun things as there are too many serious things going on,” said Jan Pattison, buyer for Rowallan Associates, a Scotland-based sourcing company for mail-order concerns.

Buying for fall and winter with the same budget as last year, Pattison was looking for brightly colored bags, jewelry and scarves.

Scarves and shawls were selling well at Bordeaux, France-based Petrusse’s stand, where the brand’s most expensive piece, a shawl wholesaling at $93, was the top-selling item.

“It’s possible that people are making up for not buying bigger things [by buying accessories],” said Claire de Passemar, export manager for the brand.

Lollipops’ Ducarouge agreed: “People always want to offer themselves a little pleasure.”

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