Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Cecile Raley Holiday Buying Guide

My assistant Debbie actually put me on to this blog entry.  She thought it would be a good idea to suggest to my customers what they might get from my shop for the holidays.  But I am such a bad gift buyer – I mostly get useful things for people, not gifts with symbolic value.  So my advice may be terrible, lol.  Still, I am going to give it a try.

1. Birthstones: this is the old standby for all holiday jewelry buyers.  But several of my pendants and rings would lend themselves to combos of say, mother’s birthstone and child, or three children, or even mom and dad only.  I prefer designs with uneven numbers of stones (actually everyone does) so I usually end up suggesting that we repeat one birthstone if there are just two people (i.e. mom is the center, and the child goes left and right).  Certain months have a lot of birthstone variety, like January for instance, because there are so many different types of garnets.  Other months (February, which is amethyst) doesn’t leave a lot of choice.  For those months one can just choose different purples (purple spinel, tanzanite).  For birthstone necklaces, I suggest the hexagon designs which I have for one stone, three, and four stone combos.  For rings, any multi-stone ring is good, not so much the halo rings.

5mm Tanzanite in 14K Rose Gold Hexagon Bezel 

Four Stone Rose Gold Hexagon Bezel Pendant with Tourmaline and Apatite $299.00

3 Stone Hexagon Eternity Pendant in 14 K Rose Gold with Spinel and Color Change Garnet $499.00

2. Proposals, friendship rings, etc: men often use holiday gifts to mark a special occasion with their loved one.  Rings are the most standard purchase for that, and I often have to give advice to male buyers (mostly last minute) on those.  I often recommend halo styles, though I ask them to describe their person with words that I can use to suggest jewelry designs: modern, natural (nature), antique, blingy, simple, colorful, etc.  Thinking of someone you buy for in those terms will help you single out what is best for them.

Platinum Silver Cocktail Ring with Tanzanite and White Zircon $379.00

Iolite and Sapphire Halo Ring in Argentium Silver $289.00

3. For the idiosyncratic person: some people just like their gifts their own way.  I am one such person, which is why for this year, I asked my family to buy me a toaster oven.  That way, there are no surprises.  For recipients like me, keep it simple.  Browse through their favorites and buy what they marked, or an ETSY gift certificate (which will be available in my shop this season) - I always have a sale on the 25th of December so that people can buy something together when they’re sitting “under the tree” so to speak.  Or pick out a pair of gems for them (remember I have a return period too).  And then play together to develop a design. 

4. Cheap: well, as many of you are noticing, my shop isn’t so cheap anymore.  There is a lot more gold inventory for instance.  The reason I make more things in gold is that I simply cannot compete with the overseas market, where assembly, soldering, setting and polishing cost nearly nothing.  I have all my stuff locally made, I supervise every step, and I love working directly with the people who make my ideas into actualities.  Also, interestingly, more of my buyers now buy gold over silver.  But as I phase out of the items that don’t work for me or for my line, I put more things into clearance.  Some of my silver studs and necklaces also cost less (the filigree studs for instance), and I am still addicted to beads, so I am going to try to stock up that section more for the holidays.

Blue Ceylon Spinel 4mm Stud Earrings $68.00

Beaded Turquoise Necklace with Thai Silver Accents and Free Earrings $79.00

Argentium Silver Bypass Ring With Rhodolite Garnet $89.00

Art Deco Reproduction Filigree Ring in Argentium Silver with Purple Spinel $89.00

6mm Rhodolite Garnet Stud Earrings in Argentium Silver $88.00

Simply Apatite, Peridot, Tanzanite, Prehnite and Tsavorite Necklace with Free Earrings $99.00

5. Personal favorites: last but not least, let’s talk about what I would personally recommend.  I love love love the pendants I created that combine hexagon and kite designs.  They look like they’re right out of a 1920s movie except that they’re in color, and they sit beautifully on the neck.  I also like the two half moon pendants I made, the rings on either side of the top of the stone make them sit more securely than the other channel wrapped items.  In terms of rings and dangly earrings, the Gotham line is my favorite, because I like art deco more than art nouveau and I love the old fashioned yet modern look.  I also enjoy that you can get more ring out of those without having to splurge on the expensive halo designs.  My engraver, Alex, continues to amaze me with what he can do with those pieces.  The Gatsby line is now also fully engraved.  And the petal line (with all the sunflower rings) is getting there.  Oval petal pendants and rings are coming out soon, hopefully in time for the holidays (I know I will have one ring with a 9x7 center and 2mm side stones ready in about 10 days).
I’ll leave you with a photo of my “to date” all time favorite piece that I am (with great regret) willing to put up in my shop – mainly because I already splurged on my own Christmas gift which is still in production but I’ll share when it’s done.  This ring features a 2 carat plus Mahenge spinel, 2009 mining date, trillion cut, in a white gold Gatsby design, diamonds on the side, millgrain.  Still thinking about engraving it too. 

Trillion Flower Gatsby Ring in 14 K White Gold with 2+ Carat Mahenge Spinel and Diamonds $2,799.00

Hexagon and Kite Pendant in 14 K Rose Gold with Mahenge and Burmese Spinel $699.00

Trillion Flower Gatsby Pendant in 14 K Rose Gold with Morganite and Diamond $449.00

Half Moon Garnet Pendant in 14 K Rose Gold Channel Setting and Mint Garnet Kite Dangly $599.00

3 Stone Hexagon Eternity Pendant in 14 K Rose Gold with Spinel and Color Change Garnet $499.00

Gatsby Studs for 5mm Trillion Stones, Argentium Silver with Rhodolite Garnet $119.00

Kite Style Aquamarine Earrings in Sterling Silver $119.00

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My Collections: What Stays, What Goes, What’s New

As I continue to build my own website, my brand, and of course, develop my personal style, I am working towards collections based on themes.  Now that the holidays are coming up, let me take you through the collections I have right now and also tell you about the projects that are under way.  Suggestions are welcome!

Hexagon Collection: As you can see from my listings, this collection is well under way.  I like this line because it is protective of the stone without being the need to hammer set the gem.  The setting is beaded, which is less forceful on the stone so I don’t have to worry about it getting cracked.  The hexagon and octagon styles also combine really well to make interesting shapes.

Four Stone Rose Gold Hexagon Bezel Pendant with Tourmaline and Apatite

Tourmaline Pendant in Hexagon Bezel with Kite Accent 14 K Rose gold

Scroll Collection: This is probably my oldest line, and it includes the scroll eternity ring and the scroll earring settings.  I also have a 9x6 scroll setting that is good for larger pendants.  I don’t know that I want to do more with this line though.  Prong settings do not seem to be as much in style for rings and pendants, and in general, other than the earrings, I don’t sell scroll settings very much.  I am keeping it though because the earrings are really popular.

4mm Thai Sapphire Studs Set in Rose Gold Scroll Setting

Eternity Band in 14K Rose Gold with Natural Blue Zircon

Contour Collection: This collection is also a carryover.  It includes all the channel wrapped items, which provide a simple and elegant frame for earrings and pendants.  This collection doesn't include rings, for the obvious reasons.  

Pear Shaped Kyanite Pendant Wrapped in 14K Rose Gold with Diamond Accent

Oval Apatite Pendant in 14 K Rose Gold Channel Setting

Mismatched Rhodolite Garnet Dangly Earrings in 14K Rose Gold

Gotham Collection: I am in love with this one.  To me it looks Art Deco but the color and engravings give it very different feel.  This collection includes my Gotham ring and pendants, and I am about to release a larger Gotham ring that takes an 8x6 emerald cut.  I will again carry both an engraved version and one that takes outer stones.  Under this line, I am also adding the pillow ring and pendant because of their edgy shapes.  But neither has sold that much – the pillow ring has actually only sold once (recently).  So I am not sure I should do more with those.

Cushion Cut Gotham Ring in 14 Rose Gold with Mandarin Garnet

Art Deco Style Ring with Mint Garnet and Mahenge Spinel in White Gold

Argentium Silver Cocktail Ring with Rhodolite Garnet and Peacock Spinel

Petal Collection: My other favorite collection, the petal line includes the sunflower rings and pendants, the new earring jackets, the petal earring and the four and five petal pendants.  The Gatsby pendant and ring go here also because they have petals also.  Most of the petal designs will come in an engraved and a regular version (I love the engravings and they allow me to do a halo style without adding stones).  And I am going to add an oval flower ring soon, as well as a sunflower ring for a 7mm center.

Sapphire Earring Jackets

Apatite & Tanzanite in 14K rose gold

Petal Earring with Mint Garnet & Sapphires

Victorian Inspired Two Flower Open Ring in Rose Gold with Merelani Mint Garnet, Chrysoberyl and Mahenge Spinel

I am phasing out most of the simple bezel set styles, but I will periodically offer them as earrings (and I am keeping the five stone ring).  Many bezel rings were created from purchased settings and those designs are fairly common place.  In my shop they don’t get bought very much – again with exception of my multi stone rings.  I already phased out the melted rings.  The twig collection stays because it sells locally.  And I have some odds and ends (halo rings for instance) that are free floating right now.  They sell sometimes, not often, but they are good additions to my stuff.  So for now they will stay in.

I continue to work on more art deco styles – this has come to be my favorite period, I love the edgy components and it reminds me so much of my home of choice: New York City.  I am working on a larger pendant right now, even though larger pieces are heavy in gold and therefore cost prohibitive.  I have another flower ring style coming out soon, and I did a split shank ring for myself (and one customer) that I may adapt into my collection.  It will be for a pear shape.  I’d also like to make some settings for larger stones as I am starting to sell more of those. 

My main inspirations, in case you are wondering, are old jewelry books, antique shows, and eBay.  Though periodically something comes to me out of nowhere; my Gatsby pendant was one such case.  The sunflower ring, too.  All inspiration, I feel, is in the end a mix of things you have seen before, and to get ideas the main thing to do is look around.  I take photos of stuff I see that I like and then it changes in my head into something that fits my personal taste, so that by the end it is no longer recognizable as that original thing (just consider the original  Victorian petal earrings that I had featured in some of my listings – my entire collection came out of that one piece).  It also takes experience of course, you need to know what works and what doesn’t.  My CAD designer, Brandy, has been a great help with that.   

Gotham Pendant in 14 k Rose Gold, Hand Engraved with Emerald Cut Sapphire

Trillion Flower Gatsby Pendant in 14 K Rose Gold with Morganite and Diamond

Engraved Trillion Gatsby Ring with Iolite, Platinum Silver

Gotham Earrings in 14 K Rose Gold, Hand Engraved with Emerald Cut Sapphire