JEWELRY’S JUMBLED SEASON
THOUGH THE EIGHTIES INFLUENCE IS CONFERRING A CERTAIN GLITZ ON THE MARKET, NO ONE TREND HAS EMERGED A CLEAR WINNER.

Byline: Danielle Cohen

The changing leaves won’t be the only source of splashy color this fall. The predominant trend in a somewhat scattered jewelry market is toward substantially sized pieces in vibrant hues, thanks to the inspiration of the glitz-filled Eighties.
However, the market is at a crossroads. Not only are jewelry makers faced with the challenge of meeting ever-increasing market demands, but consumers are not following the trends as closely as they once did.
“Everyone is so independent in what they wear,” said Wendy S. Babchin, owner and president of Wendy Babchin and Associates, a multiline accessories showroom. “The ‘taboos’ on what [jewelry] you can mix together are gone. Clothes are so unstructured you can do most anything.”
Tim Philbin, principal, Tim Philbin Accessories, a multiline AmericasMart accessories showroom, said that consumers, with access to nonstop information, are more savvy than ever today. They are far less likely to accept one particular trend just because the market pushes it.
“You can no longer say “pink is hot” and have people accept that,” said Philbin. “It’s so important to know your customer, know their niche and know what will work for them.”
Following, a few snapshots of the trends that did manage to work their way to the forefront of the jewelry market.

Size Does Matter
In some cases, bigger is better. The minimalist’s nightmare has come full circle with bold, chunky styles now dominating the market. Paula Dawkins, the principal at DCI Imports Inc., sums up the season by predicting jewelry will be “feminine, larger and more important” than in seasons past.
And then there’s the “the more the merrier” approach. People will start layering delicate pieces for a bolder look, according to Lorren Bell, designer of Deluxe by Lorren Bell, who created exclusive pieces for Sandra Bullock and her co-stars in the film “Miss Congeniality.”
The big-bauble approach won’t entirely eclipse the daintier pieces that have sold so well for the past few seasons. Bold wrist adornments such as mesh bracelets with rhinestones and chunky, vintage bangles and cuffs will dominate at Distinctive Accessories Ltd., said Bonnie Atlas, the company’s owner, though she also stood behind smaller-scale jewelry. “Because suits are very strong, short necklaces will still be important. Suiting requires more serious, cleaner lines.”
“We still have a strong customer base who wants that great downsized look with sterling and semiprecious stones,” said Babchin.

Material World
“Gold is back, but silver won’t die,” Janet MacCulloch, manager of Alex Carol Inc.’s Atlanta showroom said. That, perhaps, sums up the industry take on the subject, as not everyone is signing on for the predicted gold rush. “The shiny, all-gold trend is just not taking off as fashion forecasters thought it would. It’s definitely not dominating our sales volume,” Babchin explained. “I’m still moving a lot of metals: bronze, silver, brass, copper and pewter.”
Atlanta-based jewelry designer Mark Edge of the eponymous collection disagreed. “I believe gold will still be the trend. It just feels rich, warm and very ‘now,’ and it will work well with warm colors.”
Gold is king for fall, said Tim Philbin, principal, Tim Philbin Accessories, but silver will still make its mark with unusual pieces. “These ‘conversation’ pieces essentially give the consumer a reason to purchase the item,” he explained.
As jewelry designers keep their options open, expect the unexpected. Materials run the gamut from crystals to mohair, faceted beads and rhinestones to pearls, semiprecious stones to leather and suede, and they’re being chosen with an eye toward the upscale.
“Multijeweled sterling in more expensive price points will be a focus for Barse,” said Richard West, Southeast sales representative for Barse & Co. “Our designers are also working on collections for sterling rope and cable pieces similar to ones we sell in our basic stores.”
“Pearls and semiprecious stones are becoming important. People want jewelry that has some value, that they can enjoy for years to come, and that is not so trendy,” Distinctive Accessories’ Atlas said.

Not Over the Rainbow
“Color will be all over the board…with a richness and emphasis on texture as well as unexpected colors mixed together,” designer Edge said. The season’s hot colors: pink, steel gray, lavender, melon, sage, tangerine, olivine, royal blue, topaz.
“Neutrals are always awesome — black, brown, olive and beige are huge movers for us. Fall always drops in winter green, burgundy, gray and navy in some form,” Babchin said.
Dawkins agreed, adding that earth tones and variations on champagne should be expected, too.
Skins and animal prints are still the rage. “Pythons and animal prints won’t go away — especially in bright, fun colors,” speculated Babchin.
“Animal prints embossed in sterling will continue to go forward into fall, from zebra to cheetah and crocodile,” said West. “We plan on adding more designs with onyx and wine-colored stones as accents.”

Piece by Piece
Expect lots of drop pieces, from earrings to necklaces. “Necklines have gone way south,” Alec Carol’s MacCulloch declared.
Hoop earrings, cuffs, charms, toggles and mesh will have a strong presence. “Sales of hoop earrings have jumped to over 60 percent of total earring sales. We will continue to feed this category with newness,” Barse’s West said.
“We believe the charm bracelet will be important, having drawn a large interest from Alabama and Mississippi for beaded charm bracelets,” West said. “We are working on three-dimensional charms to be like no others on the market today.” Cuffs and larger silhouettes are also on Barse’s fall lineup.
Babchin’s lines will include charms, tassels and fringes to give jewelry “a little more punch and a finished look.”
“We’ll experience an item as a conversation piece with a story behind it, instead of just a great necklace or earring,” Babchin said. “These are pieces that will say, ‘You have to have me. Buy me now!”‘
Pearls, which adapt well to both casual and formal looks, will take on a new twist. Mixed with rhinestones and crystals this fall, pearls feature more than one strand or one long strand looped and looped again. DCI Imports’ Dawkins said that larger pearls, and those with more color depth, will be more popular than the traditional pearl.

Watch It!
“Today’s watches sell like shoes, but they’re really affordable at $13 to $30 [wholesale],” said Babchin.” Women have watches in every color, and any women who doesn’t, needs to.”
“Watches are a big upcoming trend and a very hot category,” agreed Distinctive Accessories’ Atlas.
Within the list of must-haves for fall is a timepiece for every outfit, said Atlas. The season will show a variety of watches in bold colors, skins, beading and other unexpected adornments. Other looks: watches paired with matching bracelets, double-wrap novelty watches and those with hidden faces that are made to look like bracelets or necklaces.

The Jewelry Box
The looks may be coming fast and furious, but here are a few looks that could top the trend lists this fall:

Delicate pieces worn layered
Mesh cuffs
Chunky bangles
Sterling with semiprecious stones
Color, color, color
Generously sized hoop earrings
Drop necklaces
Pearls: larger, looped in strands, combined with rhinestones and crystals
Charm bracelets
Watches: paired with bracelets, incorporated into bracelets or necklaces