By JoAnne Laffey Abed
After 30 years of owning her own jewelry shop and even more working in the jewelry industry, Julie Brashier-Smith has a killer instinct and a great eye for knowing what will sell, which she fine tunes by doing a lot of homework.
Here are a few tricks of the trade from Julie Brashier-Smith and Jill Fletcher of Julie’s Jewels and Gifts to keep you fashion-forward and ahead of the curve in the world of jewelry trends.
Julie stays current by following the trends at large international fine jewelry manufacturer and wholesaler JCK shows held each June in Las Vegas. She and her director of online sales, Jill Fletcher, also attend the regional Atlanta Market at America’s Mart twice a year to get input on costume and designer jewelry, as well as some of the gift pieces they also sell, like candles, engravable keepsakes, and serve ware.
Before attending, they review industry lookbooks for key trends in what to expect and make notes on which showrooms they want to visit. While there, they not only look for new trends to follow, but how they’re displayed and styled, and, most importantly, they take a hands-on approach to make sure the quality, durability, and craftsmanship are up to par. “When you’ve been in business for 30 years and have done business with multiple generations of families, quality matters a great deal,” noted Julie.
If you saw it in the 90s, it’s BACK!
Aside from going to shows and personal knowledge, Julie and Jill get inspiration from mainstream media. “When other people watch TV, they follow the plot, but we are focused on what they are wearing,” noted Jill. “From morning news programs to reality shows, we are constantly noting what’s new and interesting, and we often have customers who come in looking for something they saw someone wearing on one of their favorite shows or even soap operas.”
While most of their items can be purchased through dedicated sales reps and arrive within a matter of days, the growing popularity of handmade jewelry often results in a lead time of about 10 – 12 weeks. This means that accurately predicting sales volume is a critically important skill for the team.
So, what does Julie say is trending these days? While the classics never go out of style, here are some jewelry options no fashionista should be without right now:
Gold-filled jewelry has made a big comeback, but today’s discerning buyers want brand name costume jewelry and don’t mind paying extra for it. Julie’s customers love brands like E. Newton, Southern Gates, Julie Vos, Sheila Fajl, Catherine Canino, and Budha Girl
Julie has seen a huge uptick in the number of buyers who are concerned with going green, in terms of sustainably sourcing stones and being handcrafted rather than mass-produced
Following a shift to platinum, white gold, and sterling silver jewelry and settings, yellow gold is now a significantly more popular choice
Expect to see rose gold, sterling silver and yellow gold mixed in the same pieces or worn together. Varying texture is also very stylish, with savvy fashion mavens wearing molded silver and gold Budha bracelets with diamonds and pave pieces with smoother textures
Julie and Jill note that large or long statement chains and necklaces paired with more delicate shorter styles are a great fashion option. Stacking rings and bracelets of different widths and styles are also a big hit
If you saw it in the 90s, it’s BACK! Everything from link chain styles and herringbone necklaces to larger pieces are all the rage, so Julie encourages young women to take a peek at their mom’s jewelry collections to see what they can borrow. Who knew she was so cool?
Color is king right now, and while precious stones like rubies, sapphires, and emeralds offer a great pop, people are opting for previously unconsidered semi-precious stones like amethyst, green quartz, morganite, smoky topaz, and lemon quartz to take the color factor up a notch
Pearls are always in style, and Julie argues that EVERY woman needs a strand, but the trend is toward the slightly irregular or imperfect shape of freshwater and baroque pearls rather than traditional round pearls. Pearls can also be found in a much larger number of pieces and frequently mixed with other stones
Since Julie’s Jewels and Gifts is a Greenville engagement hotspot, no discussion would be complete without an idea of what’s popular in today’s engagement rings and wedding bands:
99.9 percent of all engagement rings Julie sells are still diamonds, with yellow gold making a big comeback here, too
Julie has seen a big return to engagement rings with one stone and a simple band, rather than a more ornate setting. Those wanting to be on-point but add a little extra sparkle can add a thin band with small pave or channel-set stones
While round solitaires are very popular, stones with a little elongation like ovals, pears and even marquis stones are gaining ground
While vintage settings aren’t quite as popular as they were a few years ago, vintage cuts like elongated cushion-cut diamonds popular in the 1920s are very fashionable and in-demand now
The days of the wedding set are over. Brides and grooms are opting for mismatched bands, stacking sets, or unique wedding bands that fit their taste rather than “matching” the engagement ring or one another
Now that you’re armed with all this info, it seems a little jewelry shopping is in order. So, run over to Haywood Road to check out Julie’s Jewels and Gifts, or, even better, go to Surcee.com right now to get your fix.