“A lot of men like to choose jewelry for their significant other on Valentine’s Day,” said Chrissy Chapin, the Mount Kisco-based jewelry designer behind chrissychapin.com. “They can pick up a beautiful lasting piece with semi-precious stones and gold-filled chains.” Chapin created her website a year ago, although she has been designing jewelry for about five years. Her inspiration often comes from the colored gemstones that are the centerpiece of her pieces.
According to the National Retail Federation, about 20 percent of Valentine gift-buyers select jewelry, spending more than $4.4 billion on gems, gold and silver. Put another way, 11.2 percent find their Valentine gifts at jewelry stores. (More than half of gift buyers buy candy and a third give flowers.) Men will spend an average of $175.61 on jewelry, flowers and a romantic evening out.
And in a 2008 online survey by commissioned by Teleflora, when given a list of the best Valentine’s Day gifts to receive, women selected roses as the best gift to receive (32 percent); diamond jewelry as the second best gift (29 percent); and jewelry other than diamonds as the third best gift (26 percent).
Of course, that survey was done before the Great Recession. Local jewelry designers and shop owners, recognizing that more people are watching their budgets, are offering Valentine shoppers both diamonds and more reasonable options.
The Beauty of “Timeless”
“We try to help people pick out simple designs, timeless and pretty to the eye when they open it up,” said Marjorie Troob, co-owner of Rocks by Jolie B. Ray of Armonk.
“For Valentine’s Day, people like diamonds, really simple pieces. People don’t buy hearts so much. Simple diamond pieces are probably the biggest sellers for Valentine’s Day.” Versatility is a key word for Troob when she designs jewelry. Her pieces can be worn for a casual lunch with friends or a Saturday night out on the town, she said. “People are conservative today in this economy. People want to buy things they are going to wear, versus a one-time wear,” she said. “People put money in jewelry they want to wear.”
When designing jewelry, Troob keeps in mind what’s in her customers’ closet. For example, she said, “Today’s woman wears a lot of black.” So for jewelry, something simple with “a little pop of color” works well.
In addition to carrying her own designs, Troob’s store showcases pieces by other jewelers. “We try to carry designers small like us,” she said. “And we try to make every designer we sell look different, so the designers aren’t competing with each other.”
Sentimental has its Virtue too
Varda Singer, owner of ICD Contemporary Jewelry in Chappaqua and who has been in the jewelry business for the last 40 years, said Valentine’s Day gifts tend to be more sentimental, celebrating the connection between the couple.
“I usually design a line for Valentine’s Day, that goes from less expensive to more expensive,” she said. “This year, I’m designing a line of little diamond solitaire pendants, either by itself or with a little design.” They will range in price from $100 to $2,500.
It’s a cliché, Singer acknowledged, but a diamond is still a girl’s best friend. “It shows that you care and love,” she said. An unusual approach is to select a colored diamond: blue and pink. “That’s a very special gift,” Singer added.
Singer also knows her market when she designs her jewelry and selects pieces for her store. “This is a conservative area,” she explained. “Women like simple, understated jewelry, not showy. They want to wear jewelry every day, and not put it in the safe. They wouldn’t buy a tiara, so we obviously try not to sell it in a window in Chappaqua.”
“Most people in Chappaqua appreciate fine jewelry. They buy less but finer made jewelry. And they buy timeless jewelry that will last for a long time,” Singer said. Singer keeps up with fashion trends in color and clothing design when she designs her pieces. To stock her store, she travels overseas to remote villages in places like Thailand and India. And she listens to her customers. When they started buying moonstones, she stocked more jewelry made with moonstones. “We sold more moonstones than anything else this year,” said Singer.
Consider the Receiver’s Desires
“I base a lot of the designs on the gems themselves,” noted Chapin. She also thinks of the outfits that she and her sisters, nieces and friends like to wear. When buying jewelry, Chapin recommends the gift-giver think about what the receiver already likes. “Get something that matches the style they like,” Chapin explained. Some women wear delicate, simple jewelry while others go for bolder, chunkier pieces. Do they have a favorite color? Don’t buy red jewelry for Valentine’s Day if her favorite color is purple.
“I think there’s been a nice trend in jewelry where there used to be only costume, inexpensive jewelry or fine jewelry,” Chapin said. These days, she emphasized, “There is more choice now than there used to be.”