The Jewelry Designer’s Journey ~ On Finding Inspiration

on being a jewelry designer

There’s a certain state of mind you must be in before you should try to engage a public relations professional.  The best professionals – the ones who focus on results more than how much you can afford – will check to see if you’re there before accepting you as a client. Some will even help you get there before they begin contacting press on your behalf.  For me, this is the only way to do business, where your vision and your focus are just as important as your talent.

In my last article, I discussed what is required to engage a public relations agency. Here, I’m going to let you in on how I choose which companies I represent.

On Becoming a Jewelry Designer

A few months ago, I had a consulting call with a jewelry designer who knew precisely what she wanted from life.  In our pre-call survey, she wrote about the lifestyle brand she was going to create, with her jewelry line being the beginning of what was sure to be a multibillion-dollar empire of jewelry, clothing, handbags and more. Intrigued, I awaited our scheduled call to see how I could be of service. Within moments into our call, however, I realized immediately this woman only had a dream.

The reality was that she’d only produced four pieces, with just two available to show me via photo.  She had sketches for more, but she couldn’t say when she planned to produce the remaining collection — yet she continued on about this empire she was building that would make her the next Coco Chanel.

There’s a general belief that you should never awaken someone who is sleepwalking out of fear it could cause them harm. I found myself in this situation where I had to determine if I should awaken this delightfully deluded woman or let her continue along in what must be a beautiful, uncomplicated dream world where things simply happen without effort.

I decided to err on the side of caution and instead allow the clock to run out on our call. You can only advise people who are ready to listen. Given how she was doing more talking than I on a call where I was meant to give her strategic counsel, it was clear she wasn’t ready to listen.

I am assuming since you’re reading this article, however, you are someone ready to listen. Let’s begin with your focus.

So, take a deep breath with me. Inhale, inhale, inhale.

Let it out.

Now, let’s step back.

Wanting to Become A Jewelry Designer

Why have you decided to go into the jewelry business?

You can answer this yourself, or you can email me and tell me all about it. Whatever your answer, I guarantee it can all be summed up in one word: passion.

Jewelry is a very personal thing. It can be very revealing, very sentimental, or very emotional. Consider that the jewelry someone wears is a peek into what brings them joy. This is a truth you must embrace if you are to succeed as a jewelry designer.

But back to passion.

Passion is the reason we do the things most important to us. Passion is the reason you pick up your pliers and begin to bring to life that necklace you first saw in a dream.

The thing with passion, especially your passion, is that it’s an energy that can’t be destroyed once generated. That ring you carved with passion guiding your hands carries that energy with it to its final owner – the customer who sees it, falls in love with it and augments your original passion with this new love. As friends ask her who made that exquisite ring she’s always wearing, your passion will be behind her enthusiasm as she speaks about finding one of her favorite baubles.

Whatever muse inspires your creativity, understand that you must see the inspiration through to the final owner. When you consider the passion behind why you go to your bench each day, never forget that you are making something destined to make another human happy. When you operate from this perspective, this focus, you will discover your designs will always find a customer.

Now, let’s take another deep breath.

Let it out. And we’ll step back again.

Finding Your Inspiration

Think about what you just read. How did you feel reading it?

If I did my job well, it resonated profoundly with you. My words come from a passion for helping people advance their business. This connection I hope I made with you is so you can understand the importance of stepping back.

Many people go into becoming a jewelry designer without really thinking about the end consumer. They’re often too seduced by the inspiration of their muses (or dreams of being the next Elsa Peretti) to ever take a step back and question whether what they are creating hasn’t been done before.

When you begin as a jewelry designer, you must know the market. Is there an existing jewelry designer who has your same aesthetic? If so, why should a customer buy your piece instead of theirs?

If you can’t easily answer this question, then challenge yourself to create something far different than what you started with. Go back to the drawing board as many times as it requires until you break through and create something that is distinctly you, something that declares your voice as a jewelry designer.

Find your personal signature. And in the process, develop origin stories for each piece. Tell the story of what inspired you, what you saw before heading to your bench, what you felt. Make your earrings more than just a pair of earrings. Write about the deep passion that guided your jewelry designer hands in the construction and slip that story in with the jewel as it journeys to its destined owner.

I was once a top jewelry and watch salesperson in both Bloomingdale’s and Tourneau watch store. Both experiences taught me the importance of a story in seducing customers to buy.

I sold many Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso watches at Tourneau with the story of how they were originally made for polo players who wanted to wear their watches while playing polo. And I sold even more John Hardy jewelry at Bloomingdale’s as I captivated customers with the legend behind the Naga collection.

One thing was consistent across all the JLC and John Hardy customers – they were always trying to decide between JLC or John Hardy and another watch or jewelry brand. The stories I told tipped their decision.

This is the importance of a creation story. These stories carry with them the passion of the jewelry designer that originated the piece in question. That passion intertwines with a customer’s existing belief, desire or experience, and compels them to buy.

So, take another deep breath.

Exhale. Step back.

On Being Distinctly You

You’re not Tiffany’s. You’re not Cartier. You are a designer with potential customers who, unlike Harry Winston, will know the exact name of the person who fashioned one of their most coveted possessions.

This is the beauty of being an independent designer. You own that which you create, and you imbue each piece with a signature passion at the moment of its conception. What you create cannot be replicated.

Don’t believe me? Pick any piece from your body of work and try to make an exact copy. We both know you can’t. A different passion guided you then. A new passion guides you now.

For a certain type of customer, your independence makes your jewelry even more important to them. And for these customers who have everything, the only gift they ever really value is that which no one else can have.

How does this make you feel?

Now, use that feeling and go create. Don’t forget to write the origin story when you’re done.

This article on becoming a jewelry designer  first appeared on the Halstead blog July 2022

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