I am a loyal reader of the newish JCK Online blog called Behind The Counter, and in particular a big fan of writer Shanu Singh Guliani's ability to bring forth simple, yet thoughtful topics. The blog is intended for consumption by those in the trade, but the subjects are disclosed in a manner such that anyone with a passing interest can understand and digest the information readily and also participate.
A couple of weeks ago she introduced a topic that I really believe has legs, and I wanted to wait to see how the comments would flesh out. As expected, respondents are nearly evenly divided. In her article Tacori: Are They Turning Their Backs On Independents? Shanu discusses how a little over a month ago, Tacori, an historically esteemed Los Angeles-based jeweler known for their intricate design work with platinum and diamonds, and perhaps equally known for their celebrity relationships and ability to cater to those with very deep pockets jumped into the sack with QVC. Some thought it shocking and peculiar, but the more questions I ask, the more sighing and eye-rolling I encounter. Take from that what you will.
This alliance brought Tacori's design elements together with QVC's "Platinum Clad" (sterling silver) and "Diamonique" (simulated gemstones) ostensibly to make Tacori affordable to the masses. The result was a phenomenal success for both QVC and Tacori, having sold out of all of their merchandise in only 18 minutes.
I mean, Christ on a crouton, that's on par with ticket sell-out rates for the Rolling Stones.
Shanu asks some valid questions of store owners and salespeople,
It’s about a month later—how do you feel? Do you dread the customer that comes in and says, “I bought my Tacori Ring off of QVC,” while standing next to another customer who has a $3000 Tacori ring on her hand debating if the brand is suddenly the right engagement ring to have, to bind her and her future husband’s eternal love.
Do you keep the line? Send it back? Never reorder again? Or are you celebrating with Tacori? Are you happy that now more of your clients know about the brand… the name Tacori? Or do you stash it in the back of the showroom hoping to pull customers to the side to take a look at this high-end brand that now sells on QVC? On the other hand, who cares… I’m a great salesperson, I have a great store, I love my customers and that’s the bottom line.
As I mentioned, the responses were nearly evenly divided. Some jewelers are thrilled; some are disgusted. One is saddened they'll have to part ways and terminate their relationship with Tacori. One respondent was a civilian (non-jewelry industry type) whose wife's $9000 Tacori wedding ring set had been stolen and his insurance was only giving them a $1000 replacement and he was thrilled to have this option in the interim. (That was actually very sad to read. Bet he buys better insurance next time. He said Tacori/QVC were super nice, accommodating and professional in getting him on the waitlist (!) for a QVC set (!) for his wife.)
Here's the thing. Brands do this all the time. Look at, say, Isaac Mizrahi. He has three (four?) lines. You can buy an Isaac Mizrahi shirt for $295 from Saks Fifth Avenue, one from Nordstorm Rack for $49 and one from Target for $19.99. And shoes! All at different price points. Burberry carries different lines, too. Ralph
Lipschitz Lauren - my God, he has about eight or nine women's clothing lines. There's a difference between, say, the RL polo shirt and the Polo polo shirt. This is nothing new.
Does this dilute the brand? Maybe, maybe not. We could discuss this ad infinitum and never reach an agreement. The only way designers make money is by diversifying and selling other stuff besides clothing, anyhow. They must brand, as in a verb, themselves. Perfume, baby!
My question for you is this: would you have a problem if you had a $10,000 Tacori ring set and you were channel-surfing one night and saw "Tacori for Epiphany" being advertised on QVC and curiosity got the best of you and you discovered your exact treasured set (minus the precious materials) being sold for under $200, including shipping and tax? And from all reports, the QVC stuff simply isn't garbage, much as we'd like for it to be. It just isn't. It's well-made enough stuff for what it is. As long as you know what it is.
But let's be honest, girl to girl. You can't tell me this wouldn't get your goat just a little bit. Get stuck in your craw? But you would shake it off like a big girl, right? Right? Just don't let your husband see that QVC show. Ever!
You, however, may go shop at QVC.com and search for Tacori in jewelry and find a suitable travel bauble or two or perhaps a set for your next foray into Darkest Peru or wherever your peripatetic muse takes you. Hell, just get something because you like the look of it... $70 won't break the bank and if you don't like it when you see it on your mitt or your neck or your lobes, they have a liberal return policy.
Plus, you're fantastic. No one will know it's paste. Quite honestly, mixing these simulated pieces with your own genuine ones isn't a grand faux pas. In fact it's done more often than you'd think. Buying some for travel pieces is a superb idea. If you are a woman who carries herself with elegance and good carriage, who is going to question the authenticity your jewelry selections? Certainly no one else of proper elegance and carriage.
A few caveats to keeping your secret... if you happen to run into me or my mother we might corner you and ask you about your jewelry. We've been known to do that. Not to verify authenticity or question your selection, of course not, but to admire and examine them more closely. We'll keep your secret. As well, avoid flashing these in fine jewelry stores and trying to pass them off as the real deal. Stay out of those places. And finally, don't take them off and hand them to anyone. That's a dead giveaway. That silver weighs far less than platinum.
(photos from QVC)