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  Chief Editor Anuraag S | Editor Swati Bhalla | Powered by GigaSoft™ November, 2010

The renowned epistemologist, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, in his book the Black Swan defines a black swan as a large-impact, hard-to-predict, and rare event beyond the realm of normal expectations. Taleb tells the story of author Yevgenia Nikolayevna Krasnova and her book A Story of Recursion. She published her book on the web and it was discovered by a small publishing company; they published her work unedited and the book became an international bestseller. The small publishing firm became a big corporation, and Yevgenia became famous. We, for one believe that retail is a black swan in the job starved Indian economy, and within retail, Visual Merchandising will be the black swan. The impact of a retail store which understands and leverages its visual merchandising well will differentiate the leaders from the 'also-rans'.

Visual Merchandising is the idiom of smart retailers. Like humans use languages to communicate, retailers use visual merchandising techniques to communicate with customers. The comparison to languages doesn't stop there. Like languages have their own grammar & logic of object, verb and subject, visual merchandising has its own rules and guiding principles. Within these set of rules you can still use creativity to write poetry, using the same language a visual merchandiser too can use his creativity to create visual effects in the store to communicate innovatively with the customer. To my surprise, it's been almost 12 years in this profession, but I've hardly come across any good book or even article on Jewellery Displays.


Years ago, the Jewellery industry used to use jewel tone colors in silk, as a backdrop to display jewelry. The dark tones tend to show off the jewelry. Also, the rough texture of silk is a good contrast to the smooth texture usually found in the shiny smoothness of the jewelry.

Then "market research" showed that female shoppers like the pale and pastel colors for the backdrop of jewelry displays. Sometimes the dark colors were intimidating, or sometimes the jewel tone colored silk could be considered garish, if it was slightly off in tone. The pale neutral colors give the impression that the jewelry is expensive, but still delightfully approachable.

So neutral colors became the jewelry display norm and a Champagne color seems to show off both gold and silver well. Now day's blocks, risers, etc are usually made from some sort of fake suede. But many jewelers still prefer the rough texture of a silk or linen. If it is costume jewelry; massing it all out is a benefit and a challenge. The benefit is that the larger amounts of silver against the backdrop will show up better. The challenge is how to contain it. If it is in a showcase placing like items together in patterns and grouping will work, using risers to give definition to the categories or themes. If it is on a wall or counter top most big chains use counter top chrome fixtures. If your store has a certain theme, or image identity, you can use colors and materials that will fit in with your look.

Acrylic Risers & blocks; There are many vendors in markets like Karol Bagh, New Delhi etc that are willing to explore new materials like leather (with embossed logo, etc).
Chrome is the worst for showing off silver jewelry. Many people use it because fixtures or components are easily available, and in stock. Refer the fashion jewelry snap below; so well color co-ordinate. For some, so much of jewelry stocks works on their walls and looks great too. It purely depends on the buying strategy of the merchandisers. But then look at J Crew, you will see wonderful neutral textures showing off a few beautiful pieces of jewelry.
Left: Fashion Accessories Display-Colored blocked; Right: J Crew Jewellery Display in neutral/natural textures

Also, as mentioned by Jeanne Holbrook, Store Planning Designer at Leegin, Spinners are the evil of the jewelry business. They are ugly. They also sell tons and tons of jewelry. It is possible to design a beautiful spinner but it generally turns out to be very expensive thus Indian retailers end up buying whatever spinner is available to stock up the maximum number of SKU's.

A lot of Spinners are made of hard surfaces (chrome, acrylic, or laminate). That is the worst way to show off jewelry. It is possible to have back panels that are a different texture, but it is all about working with your store's identity, image and budget.

Also, you can place jewelry on all kinds of things as part of a display theme or sales promotion. In many boutiques, Jewelry is often displayed on natural elements. So there are many things you can "display" jewelry on. Tiffany's new collection used Coral and colored glass vases. Moreover, one also has to consider the culture of your vicinity or location and what kind of Jewellery you want to present to your 'which' kind of customer. Doing the unexpected can grab on lookers, more footfalls means better sales!

Tiffany Co. Jewellery display on Corals
Left: Use of small coloured bowls for findings/ charms (These are easily available at road sides, Dilli Haat etc); Right: Use of stones/ rocks to display small items

However, lighting plays a vital role in Jewellery displays. In one of her book on lighting, Janet Turner* says, 'the correct source of lighting is essential for good color rendition, and this can be made more effective by using a combination of light source: metal halide for coolness, and tungsten for warmth.' The choice of fitting should never be based solely on its outward appearance: in many cases, the type of lamp and reflector will be more important to the effect of the light.

Professional thinks the first consideration of display lighting is color temperature. Not many think so. Color temperature is important to photography, but is a secondary consideration to Jewellery displays. Its advised to always use several small point sources of light it will sparkle and come to life. This is because each point source will create a reflection. The more points of light, the more sparkles. Of course there is a practical limit, too many point sources will start to merge and have the reverse effect. Color temperature of 3000°K is too warm. But 4500°-5000°K is optimal as it approaches daylight illumination at its best. Anything higher may look gold greenish, and anything lower won't render blues, purples, etc. If you are using LED, 5000°K is best for Jewellery displays.**

In modern retail, where employee productivity is critical for profitability of a business, visual merchandising is the most effective way to improve productivity. A great visual merchandiser using lots of color, signage's, visual breaks creates oasis of merchandise to attract customers, hold their attention to specific merchandise, throw critical information at them and aid he process of selling. Visual Merchandising is the key function and a retailer involves this function from the start of store design, to execution and continuous innovation in the store. With modern retail ready to explode in retail, we see tremendous opportunity for the creation of a new set of young, energetic & most importantly creative bunch of people calling themselves proudly as “Visual Merchandisers”.


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