Editor’s Letter: Jewelry Is Always a Winner

Yuka Okane Inoue
“Every Eye Is Unique,” by Yuka Okane Inoue, won a 2013 NICHE Award in the professional Jewelry: Silver category.

In a letter to his friend the French scientist Jean-Baptiste Leroy in 1789, Benjamin Franklin wrote that “in this world, nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.” But he was wrong. For as long as anyone can remember, in both good times and bad and in every conceivable culture, people have been giving gifts to mark special occasions, with jewelry right at the top.

If the galleries featured in this edition of NICHE are reading their customers right, art jewelry is still what people want to commemorate a whole host of special occasions in their lives. Even a wobbly economy, they maintain, hasn’t stopped or slowed shoppers down. Their message is to meet, and surpass, customers’ expectations by incorporating timeless, elegant, statement-making art jewelry into your own gallery mix. Your bottom line will be very glad you did.

At R. Grey Gallery in Boise, Idaho, designer/retailer Robert Grey Kaylor believes that whether they are the giver or the wearer, customers “want to set themselves apart,” and he’s happy to oblige with carefully curated selections of his own work as well as handcrafted items by other designers.

Over 43 years at the same storefront location in Brooklyn, The Clay Pot has transformed itself from a ceramics studio into one of the most talked-about jewelry stores in New York, crediting customer service and interaction as key.

Mora, the new kid on the block in downtown Asheville, N.C., operates on the premise that customers need to feel comfortable enough to come in and just look around. At Mariposa Gallery in Albuquerque’s tourist-friendly Nob Hill, jewelry is a carefully balanced mix of work that reflects indigenous styles of the Southwest and highlights local designers.

And in a real switch from conventional thinking, Modern Bird Jewelry designer Laura Flavin explains why she has moved from selling online only to a bricks and mortar location in Chestnut Hill, Pa.

Judging by the quality and inventiveness of work in the fine and fashion jewelry portfolios starting on page 44, as well as award-winning new designs by both winners and finalists in the 2013 NICHE Awards competition, there definitely is a future for hand-crafted, designer-made jewelry—and it is good!