“Jewelry is the ultimate gift in metal,” says Michael Aram, famous for his iconic handmade metal houseware that in the last decade has become a favorite for gifting.
He may soon be just as recognized for his jewelry. “I’ve been working fast and furiously on new collections,” he told WWD during a stop to meet customers in Dubai last week at Bloomingdale’s in Dubai Mall. Aram was heading off to India and Bangkok where he’ll be working on the new collection, which he will present at The Couture Show in Las Vegas in June.
The jewelry line first launched in 2014 through a license agreement with Jacmel. But Aram said after the license expired in January, he has taken the jewelry back in-house. And he is spending a lot of time on the category.
“Jewelry is very exciting for me because it’s a different scale, a different league. It’s a whole new customer I can talk to.” It is also a category the artist and designer sees as having huge potential for growth. “I could just see the jewelry business one day even surpass the home business,” he said. “There is a visibility attached to a fashion business. It’s the difference between being on the main floor versus being on the third floor.” The company’s chief executive officer, Terri Eagle, joined the company two years ago. She previously held positions at David Yurman and John Hardy, working in strategic experiences for the company.
Jewelry has long been an area of interest for Aram. “I had worked on the jewelry for 10 years just as a hobby. Then we were approached by someone who wanted to license us and we took it because I was anxious to get jewelry out into the market.”
Aram said having long-standing partnerships with retailers like Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus helped elevate awareness for the jewelry quickly. “We have been able to get incredible real estate on the floor.” This has given him the opportunity to go from the third floor of department stores to the main area. “There are many thousands of talented jewelry designers, but we hear about the same 15, who are all my neighbors on the floor. So in terms of visibility and market share, even though we are babies in the business we have been able to get incredible real estate so far.”
Michael Aram housewares rank among the top bridal registry resources for Bloomingdale’s. Aram said that lends itself to a natural segway toward jewelry. “If a client puts the brand on her registry it means she’s already aware of it, might be a collector and will transition to the jewelry very easily.”
The brand’s look has evolved in the new collections. “Our earlier jewelry collections were more sculptural,” explained Aram. The pieces now will have more movement to them. He says he’s focused on “how things feel on the body and capturing the sensuality of movement.” Working with stones has opened up a whole new world.
Aram says he wants his pieces to be durable and worn often. “Like my objects for the home, I’m really focused on creating things that are really beautiful but also functional. With the jewelry, it’s stuff that you can either dress up or dress down. I hesitate to call things fine jewelry for that reason.” The pieces range in price from $200-$90,000.
Michael Aram is currently across home categories from metal and crystal to porcelain. He also is expanding further in furniture, lighting, textiles for the home and carpets. Eventually, the designer says he would like to have his own stores. “Our next great opportunity is to do stand-alone retail.”