Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Searching for The One (It's Not What You Think)

Are you constantly looking for The One? The *one* item that will fill a space / wardrobe / accessory need in your life? 

I am. I like what I like. And I could care less about the rest. This applies to everything in my life - food, clothing, shoes, home decor, get the idea. When I like something, I really, really like it. Otherwise I have no interest in it whatsoever. And the older I get, the more choosy I become. It feels like I only have so much time...I want to put it to its best use and kick the clutter to the curb.

It drives people crazy (mostly my husband, especially when he's gift shopping), but yes, I am very, very particular. I prefer the word discerning, of course.  :)

And I think it's good to be particular. To be exceptionally choosy about what you spend your hard-earned money on, to select with great care the things that surround and adorn you.The problem is, I'm the kind of girl who would rather wait for just the "right" thing, rather than purchase some specious "interim" thing...this explains why, after nearly ten years, our house is what you might call "minimally" furnished...also, what I like tends to be, er...not inexpensive. So it's a slow process...

I don't find that much of the public shops this way...many people are seemingly quite un-discerning. I suppose this shouldn't surprise me, but I always expect a little different perspective from art show shoppers. I'd like to think that people who make the choice to buy art / furniture / jewelry (!) from an art festival, rather than a mall, for example, would be more discerning...but I think many people, no matter where they shop, want throwaway items (at a low price) that are easy, I-don't-have-to-think-about purchases...and when something breaks or is "out of style" or isn't needed anymore, it can be tossed (and possibly replaced) without much thought to the replacement purchase. And that's kind of the art fair expectation too, sometimes.

I'm not really sure what drives this. Americans *are* known for "bigger", for "quantity over quality"; we like abundance. Clearly money (or lack thereof) can be an issue. Which I totally understand. But for me, longevity has always been part of my purchasing. I don't spend often, but when I do, I will spend a bit more to get something I really love, rather than having something that "sort of" works. Or "sort of" fits. But sometimes things just aren't in the budget. On a trip to New Orleans, several years ago, my husband and I fell in love with some lamps. We oohed and aahed and thought long and hard about the right place in our house for one of these gorgeous, hand-painted lamps...and then the salesperson came over. And the price of the lamps was in the low five figures. Eep! That's just never going to be in our household budget. So I get that for some folks, $135 on a necklace won't ever be in the budget...but what about the rest of us?

I sold the above earrings at an art show recently. They were not prominently displayed, yet I can safely say that they were one of the most-looked-at items in my booth. People picked them up, oohed and aahed at the beautiful stones, and asked the price...which was $138.  Most of those people put them back down again and either looked at something less expensive, or simply walked away. Until late Saturday afternoon, when a woman came into the booth and went through the same motions...except she never let go of them. Not even when I told her the price. She said, "I think I just *have* to have these". And you know what she told me? That she doesn't buy often...but she buys "for keeps". So the items she chooses to spend on are loved/used/worn constantly and for her, worth a little more investment up front.

Now, I know that $138 for earrings, even handmade, stone-set ones with GORGEOUS stones, is not in some budgets. But for others... could it be? If, say, one was buying less throwaway items at $40 a pop? Or $15? If one had a desire to have fewer items, but items that were truly standouts, truly loved, and beautifully adorned one's ears (home, feet...etc)? 

The earrings above sold before I could even list them in my Etsy shop or on my web site. I had posted them on Facebook, and the woman who bought them told me to not bother listing them and just PayPal her an invoice. She knew they were something special, and she knew she'd get years of enjoyment out of them.

Interestingly, this has been how I buy personally, but not necessarily for my business. I have always looked for the best quality stones I could afford for my jewelry designs, and I know my regular customers recognize and appreciate that. But it wasn't until very recently that I considered spending a bit more for some really stellar stones, like the Royston Turquoise earrings shown above. I think I was a little afraid that the general public wouldn't appreciate - or buy - I am in business, after all - the more unusual, pricier stones. But these two recent earring sales, and a few other transactions, have made me rethink my stance.

With this in mind, I splurged a little on my most recent stone buying trip. The photos turned out a little blurry, but I think you'll get the (gorgeous) idea.  :)

Boulder turquoise, from Asia. Stunning! Now, the interesting thing is that usually I can pay a good bit less for Asian turquoise than for American turquoise, but the prices for the Asian stones have been creeping up in the last year or so. I asked my supplier about it. He said the mine in China has been closed - apparently it has been closed for a few years now, and for a while they were getting fewer stones, and now they are getting almost none. But the supplier still has a big demand for it - so the prices are going up. 

Peruvian opal. Bigger (and yes, a bit pricier) than I usually buy.

Glorious Kingman turquoise from Arizona. As I mentioned above, the price for Asian turquoise is coming closer to what I'm paying for American turquoise (though I hunt like crazy to try and find really good deals on American turquoise whenever I can). I sell primarily in the Eastern part of the U.S., and out here no one much cares about the origin of the stones. But out West, I constantly get asked where the turquoise is from. And Westerners don't often want the Asian turquoise. They want the Kingman, Morenci, Fox, Carico Lake, etc. (Most turquoises are named after the mines where they're found). It's quite an interesting distinction.

Anyhoo, time will tell if my spendy-er stones are worth the purchase. I think they will the discerning shopper. Otherwise I'll have some GORGEOUS earrings of my own design to wear.  :)

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