The Lipstick Effect

I have a challenge for you. I bet you can’t tell what metal the necklace above is made of.

Give up? It’s silver plated brass. But if it was sterling silver it would look the same in a photo.

I was going to post this in a few days, but I am finding silver prices to be very frustrating at the moment. They are up and down and back up again, and they are way up from what they were a year ago. In hopes of being positive, I’m turning my frustration with prices into inspiration to write.

I recently learned a new name for a concept I’ve been experimenting with for a year or two now. It’s called the “Lipstick Effect.”

“The theory was first forwarded by Leonard Lauder, the chairman of the Estée Lauder cosmetics company. After 9/11, Lauder noticed a sharp increase in lipstick sales with a corresponding decrease in sales of more expensive offerings. His theory was that consumers were stepping back from more expensive purchases and substituting more economical indulgences–such as lipstick.”

Before I go too far, let me give you some definitions, just for clarity.

Sterling Silver: An alloy of silver containing 92.5% by weight of silver and 7.5% by weight of other metals, usually copper. Sterling silver is usually used in jewelry instead of pure silver because it is more durable than pure silver (due to the other metal that is added to it).

Silver (or Gold) Plated: A fine silver film is deposited on a base metal (often brass or steel) by electrolysis. The film can be as thin as seven millionths of an inch.

That said, there is an interesting theory running through some areas of the jewelry industry. The theory is people care more about having indulgences over having something of a higher quality. With today’s economy and unstable job market, people are looking for lesser-expensive items to substitute for the items they really want. Because of this, people would rather pay less money to have a silver plated piece of jewelry than spend a little more on a sterling silver piece.

Silver plated jewelry often gets a bad name. Over the past few years, possibly due to this very concept, silver plating has been getting better. People are not turning green from it as they once did, and it’s holding up to regular wear. I still wouldn’t recommend it for wearing every day.

I have experimented with this concept and I have found I sell an equal number of sterling silver pieces as I do silver plated pieces. I try to label my pieces with what they are made of. I do this in part to remind myself when a customer asks about a piece. I also do this to let customers know what they are holding. Oddly enough, I don’t think most people look at what it’s made of. People are more concerned about price. I find this interesting. I’d love to do a poll sometime to see what people really think about this.

Would you rather have one expensive piece or several less expensive pieces?


First Show of 2011

I recently realized it has been awhile since I posted anything here. I need to get better about this. With that thought came the question “What should I write?” I thought about writing about color, but I’m not quite ready for that one. I thought about writing another sweet story about people who keep me plugging away with what I do, but I’m waiting for the perfect moment for that one. I think I’m going to write about what I’m thinking about…my first show of the year.

Two weeks ago, my sister kindly reminded me that our first show was in two weeks. That reminder stopped me in my tracks. Today, I am happy to share, we have since survived the show and it was a great day, even in the rain.

I think craft shows to me are sort of like opening night to a stage performer. You never know who will show up, what will go right (or wrong), or what you’ll forget. Then in spite of it all, you take a deep breath because even though it stresses you out at times, you can’t convince yourself to give it up. While I was doing my taxes this winter, I considered getting rid of it all, then yesterday, I could not have imagined it any other way. I love talking with people and hearing their stories. I love to hear “Now this is unlike anything I’ve seen before” meant in a positive way. I love when children run up to my stand shouting “Mommy, buy this because it’s pretty!” A little boy did that yesterday with the necklace below.

This necklace is made with glass beads. It is a bold orange color (think of a traffic cone). This necklace is one of the reasons I do what I do. Orange is not exactly my color, but I love this necklace because there is an element of fun about it. I love the bright color and the way it stands out against anything. When I wear bold pieces like this, it brightens my day, my mood, my everything. Most women think they are simple, elegant jewelry people. It’s fun to see them try a bolder piece and realize that it works.

With that thought in mind, I think I just might go have some fun. Thanks for reading!