Friday, 1 March 2013

Mokume, Mock-a-you?

When I first laid eyes on Mokume Gane rings, I was in love.  Mokume Gane is Japanese for “burl-metal.”  The centuries-old technique involves bonding layers of various colors of gold and/or silver, copper and other metals.  The technique involves heating the billets to near melting point so that they turn into one solid mass.  When hammered, rolled-out and etched in some way, the wavy layers resemble the swirls and striations of burl-wood.

Mokume rings can be very expensive due to the hours of labor which go into forming the metal before the piece of jewellery can be fashioned.  Mokume rings are closer to the value of platinum than plain gold.  Like natural fancy diamonds it’s very rare.  Like platinum, exclusivity is evident and like Rolex watches, there’s a sense of old-world craftsmanship.

To take jewellery to the extreme, you can look at two major categories of product.  There are those that are or resemble popular designs.  With these crowd-pleasers, you compete against everyone else who sells similar looking product to see who can deliver the best price for a given karatage or carat-weight.  The second category includes designs that are unique and different.  Your job is to convince people that they can adopt these to standout from the crowd.  The former are easier to sell and result in ever decreasing margins.  The latter takes more effort, but the reward is higher margins and a greater degree of customer satisfaction.  After-all, when was the last time someone came into your store and proudly stated, “I want something really common; preferably something you’ve sold to 8 or 10 other ladies in my vicinity.”

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