Filed under: Jewelry
Much of the focus of the day was on sales and making the best of a challenging industry. But some of the dishiest stories came from a couple of red carpet champs. In the morning panel Michael S. O'Connor, a former jewelry designer turned stylist who works for the Platinum Guild International talked about the challenges of getting jewelry on to celebrities for the big events. These days most stars have stylists which serve as gatekeepers and making them happy is a big part of getting jewelry on a star. O'Connor told the story of placing a piece on Angelina Jolie which all started after a chance green room meeting with her stylist.
Another red carpet winner is Erica Courtney. She has a relatively small company and yet has had tremendous success getting her jewelry on big stars including Julia Roberts, Beyonce and Britney Spears. How did she do it? Part of her success has come from remaining committed to working with celebrities year round and not just around the time of big events. She also has a "nothing is impossible" attitude and revealed that one of her associates who was scheduled to be at the GIA with her actually had to jump on a red-eye flight instead to ferry a piece to a client because it was after the FedEx deadline.
As Courtney explains it, the business of getting jewelry placed can be a bit tricky. Stylists try to make sure their stars get the best pieces and all details of red carpets outfits are protected like state secrets until the big reveal. One thing that Courtney won't do however is give away her pieces. She was adamant about not giving pieces to away to actresses saying she'd rather not give away "even a little pair of silver earrings" and if she was going to giveaway jewelry she'd give it to "the girls that work so hard for me." And lest you think that years of working with diamonds, sapphires and expensive gemstones has jaded her she also confessed that even she is sometimes intimidated by working with the big stones. The stone can't sell itself, it's up to the design to do that and so the pressure's on. Courtney revealed that she often takes a stone home and then watches television while sketching in order to distract herself from the value of the stone.
The takeaway from every panelist at the GIA career fair was that if you don't have a passion for jewelry and the ability to sell this probably isn't the business for you, it's just too hard otherwise especially in a world where jewelry loses increasing ground to technology and other gifts. But for those with the love of the stones and the drive to do whatever is necessary to make a sale, an interesting career awaits.