Sunday, April 27, 2014

Costume Jewelry or No Costume Jewelry: That is the Question (Updated)

Costume jewelry.  What does that mean exactly?  I have wondered that over the years as went from a very young company to a full-fledged teenager (17 years and counting).  I thought costume jewelry meant it is  inexpensive, well below $20 retail and massed produced.  This low-cost jewelry can have pitfalls including changing color, turning the skin colors, breaking easily, or causing any allergic reactions among other things.  However, as Cliptomania grew and began attending jewelry trade shows I got an education.  Yes, what I thought about costume jewelry was right.  However, I also learned it is possible to sell designer name creations, offer quality gemstones, 14K gold, vermeil, sterling silver and so on.  What really mattered was the first cost to the retailer – the wholesale cost. 

A new heirloom

Another thing I wanted to consider, was it possible to still get handmade handcrafted clip earrings? Would the cost prohibit them in light of the inexpensive, mass-produced machine-made products?   The answer was it depended on which country the products gets made in.   If the clip earrings are, from whether a developing or developed country?  The difference can affect the manufacturer’s price to the retailer.  Lastly, I learned another important factor in cost reduction for quality costume jewelry was the relationship between the retailer and manufacturer.  A good working relationship in which a manufacturer understands what the retailer is looking for can go a long way.
Handmade Mayan

 At we mix it up.  Some of the items we sell are machine-made, mass-produced clip earrings, passed from one manufacturer to another to completion.  Then there are our handmade items that come from designers who work with artisan’s in developing countries and improve their way of life in the process.   Some of our designers like doing all the work and fabrication of the clip earrings they make, and minimally use machine-made parts. An example would be the environmentally conscious artisans who take everyday products like bottle glass and turn into clip earrings, or sea glass straight out of the ocean to do the same thing.  Yet another designer makes clip earrings out of metal straight from the junk yard.  And lastly we have designers who continue traditions from the past like metalsmithing, creating works-of-art at affordable prices.

It is possible to please most customers without sacrificing quality to cost. will likely never go beyond costume and fine jewelry to the jewelry that can cost thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars.  We know with the existing economy, and knowing our customer base, that this will never be the case. We like our middle ground providing a variety of quality costume and designer jewelry at an affordable price.  I hope the meaning of costume jewelry has changed for you as well.