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Articles from BABY / CHILDREN'S JEWELLERY (29 Articles)

Children's jewellery is gaining prominence
Children's jewellery is gaining prominence


Child’s play

Don’t be fooled by their diminutive status. From bubs to tweens, children are far from ignored in the jewellery world, and rightly so. CARLA CARUSO reports.

For many retailers and manufacturers, jewellery for children remains a small part of their business, but it’s a segment that continues to experience growth with jewellery being used more often to mark childhood milestones, such as births, christenings, and birthdays.

Richard Munoz is the director of Melbourne manufacturer Amaya Jewellery, which sells baby brooches, bracelets, earrings and pendants in gold and silver. He says every retailer, no matter the size or market segment, has something when it comes to jewellery for kids.

“What they decide to stock might be different from one retailer to the next, but I’d be surprised if you could walk into any notable retailer and get a blank face when asking for jewellery for a child or baby. For milestones and the like, people are prepared to spend handsome amounts on their kids. It’s more than worthwhile for us to manufacture it.”

John Worth, the director of New Zealand-based fine jewellery manufacturer and wholesaler Worth & Douglas, agrees that the market for tot trinkets is a category that will never tire. “People are always looking for christening presents,” he says, adding, “A jewellery item like a little bangle with a name or birth-date engraved on it is something that a child can keep forever.”

So long as jewellers are prepared to think outside the box, it’s a market that’s worth utilising. For example, when gold prices went up, Cashelle Jewellery managing director Arthur Pike tweaked his designs to adapt. “Since gold hit $1000 an ounce, 9-carat brooches, bracelets and earrings became a little bit prohibitive for children,” he says. “If you buy a child a 9-carat pair of earrings and they fall out, well, they’re gone. We’ve changed our range to offer more variety in the silver and gold-plate pieces, which gives people more options.”

Also taking an original approach has been Melbourne-based manufacturer Paterson Fine Jewellery, which is set to release a new range targeted at fashion-conscious, preteen girls – or “tweens”.

Tweens, for the uninitiated, are girls aged between eight and 15 who are said to be “too old for toys, but too young for boys”. A 2006 report in The Canberra Times said that the tween retail market was worth about $10 billion a year in Australia.

Paterson’s tween-age range, Luvlets, incorporates enamel and silver beads on charm bracelets and is due out in July. Angela Han, Paterson’s head of marketing, says the tween market is huge. “Essentially, we have children growing up from babies into girls, who are forming their own identities and personalities, so they’re bursting at the seams to express themselves - luvlets allow them a creative and unique way to do this,” she says, adding,

“Many in the jewellery industry have been trying to target them with just gold and set stones, but what we’re doing instead is incorporating a lot of bright enamelling onto fun 2D forms.”

The luvlets slide onto bracelets and roll around, with the design element targeted on the front and back. Motifs include girls’ faces, fruit, fashion items and animals.

Importantly, the enamel is non-toxic, according to Han: “There is extensive testing, so there is no lead. As we have international distribution, safety is a priority and we test against international standards. We’ve designed a secure child-proof clasp with all Luvlet designs going through rigorous approval to ensure they are streamlined.”

Ease of use is paramount not only for kids but for their parents, Han believes, adding, “the luvlets are easy to clean and don’t have any small parts or solder marks – they don’t come apart and are all moulded in one go.”

“The designs don’t dangle off jump-rings, and we don’t use stones that could fall out or bits susceptible to snagging,” says Han, ”We’ve designed our jewellery so that it’s child-safe and fun.”

Paterson Fine Jewellery also has a range of silver bracelets and charms for babies called My Little Angels, which includes name bracelets spelled out with charms in the shape of building blocks.

Another brand appealing to both bubs and tweens is Piccolo, a contemporary range of children’s jewellery designed and manufactured in Italy. Crafted from 9-carat yellow and white gold, Piccolo also incorporates colourful, enamel elements.

Felicity Van Wyk, director of Piccolo’s Australian distributor Oro Bello Jewellery, says the range includes bangles, bracelets, brooches, earrings, pins and rings. “Even my own 12-year-old daughter loves to wear all the earrings, so these items are not just for the young child,” she says. “A really good seller of ours is the ID bracelets, which come with different, cute motifs, from a butterfly charm for a girl to a soccer ball for a boy.”

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All pieces make for perfect gifts, according to Van Wyk: “Every item comes with a six-month guarantee against manufacture fault and a complementary gift box. They also come ticketed with a quality tag. On one side, it says ‘Piccolo’ and, on the other, it says ‘9-carat gold, made in Italy’. So, when you’re giving one of our pieces as a gift, those receiving it can see that it’s quality jewellery.”

Aiming a little older – at the teens, precisely – Worth & Douglas distributes Karen Walker Jewellery, whose designs include bow earrings, pearl chokers with skull charms, and stackable rings available in gold and sterling silver.

Also eye-catching for the young girls are the designs by Brisbane wholesaler and online retailer Celeste Designs, with pendant motifs including butterflies, dragonflies and hearts. Materials used include steel, chrome, shell and Fimo – a brand of polymer clay. Of the latter, the brand’s warehouse supervisor Alison Arlott says, “Imagine a plasticine-type substance moulded into shapes like frangipanis. They’re all handmade and you can even see the fingerprints on the back where they’ve been moulded. The designs are pretty, colourful and affordable.”

The boys don’t miss out either, with surfie-style necklaces and motifs like dolphins, crocodiles and dragons. “When Harry Potter was all the rage, we had this charm with a claw holding a green cat-eye ball and the boys just went crazy for it,” Arlott enthuses.

Another big selling point in children’s jewellery is actually tapping into the nostalgic feeling of parents and grandparents. Retailer Kath Brushfield, the owner of online boutique The Jewel Shop, says her most popular sellers are traditional pieces like ID bracelets, expandable bracelets and bluebird motif jewellery – the bluebird being traditionally a symbol of happiness. “I have a lot of people who say I had one of those pieces as a child,” Brushfield says, adding, “My daughter’s had a baby and now I’m going to buy one for her child. A lot of people find it really nostalgic and sentimental and that’s why it probably sells.”

Pike agrees that sales are often driven by nostalgia, as parents try to recreate items they once owned: “Many stick to tradition. Mum had a bluebird bracelet when she was a kid and wants the same for her child.”

Different cultures also play a part in continuing a tradition. Mario Basso, the owner of Melbourne-based retailer Mario’s Jewellers, says that jewellery is a customary baptismal gift for those of European ancestry. “The Greeks and Italians are always buying babies’ jewellery for baptisms,” he says, “because it’s been embedded into their traditions.”

One teeny problem for children’s jewellery can be its size, meaning it can sometimes get lost amid other designs in-store. Suppliers are working hard to attract attention with eye-grabbing displays. Paterson Fine Jewellery, for example, has created a point-of-sale display in the shape of a swing-set for its new Luvlets tween-targeted range.

Also adding to its interactive appeal, Luvlets customers, with a minimum purchase of a bracelet and five Luvlets, will get a booklet and special safekeeping box, in which the child can place stickers to mark which Luvlet they have in their collection, and keep a record of who gave them the luvlet, the date each was given to them, and for what occasion. There will also be an interactive website, where children can generate a wish-list for their parents or grandparents to view, as well as art activities and suggestions for wearing their luvlets in different ways.

 “What we’re doing with our range is creating a story, which then becomes the child’s own story,” Han enthuses. “Children are drawn to the story, the colours and the interaction they have with the products.”

With clever marketing, eye-catching designs and a dash of nostalgia, children’s jewellery should have no trouble flying off the shelves this season so retailers should stock up to secure a slice.

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