7 Reasons to Support Independent Jewelry Designers This Holiday Season
The holiday gift giving season is quickly approaching. Make an impact this year by supporting independent jewelry artists and your local small business community.
When you are buying something from an artist or designer there is always a backstory to go along with the purchase. Whether you are buying directly from the artist, or from the small business representing the artist, you will be able to find out about the artist’s personal story and the inspiration behind the piece. How much more interesting your gift giving will be as you share these stories this holiday season!
There are no personal stories that come with a mass made piece bought from a big box store. Artisan, handcrafted jewelry has a real person behind the product you are purchasing and they are sharing a little piece of their dream with you.
Purchasing jewelry from a local shop or boutique in your community puts money directly back into that community. Shop owners support local schools, charities and events that have an impact on the neighborhoods that they are located in. Generally this is not the case with giant corporate stores that answer to stockholders. Mom and Pop shops are struggling to compete with the mega online giants and are likely to disappear completely if the local community members do not support them.
The whole character of a town is defined by the diversity of the mom and pop shops of Main Street. Who wants to go on a shopping trip and see the exact same mass produced products from corporate stores that are in every other homogenized city?
I originally opened my boutique in a town that was overrun by corporate giants. As soon as the summer ended, the town basically shut down. The pop up giants closed their doors for the winter and made it terribly hard for the small boutiques to stay open and for the local community to thrive. Not an inviting shopping experience to go to a Main Street that has numerous vacant/closed storefronts.
It is the small shop and boutique owners that add character and originality to a town.
Shop small and shop local. Think twice before putting your money into fueling up a corporate jet rather than fueling up an artists minivan.
Artists and designers are predominantly environmentally and socially aware people and many utilize ethically sourced materials and sustainable practices when creating their art. They have personal connections with their suppliers and will be able to share exactly what materials their pieces are made of.
Many independent jewelry designers are using diamonds from conflict free zones, lab created diamonds and repurposed gemstones. Also, metals that are of United States origin and recycled metals thus reducing the impact of mining on the environment. Not true of mass produced jewelry pieces. As a buyer you don’t know what exactly you are buying or where it came from. The metals in the jewelry could contain lead or nickel or other dirty metals that are unsafe and could also cause allergic reactions for the wearer.
When buying from an independent jewelry designer, or the small business jewelry representative, you can interact with the artisan and rest assured that you know precisely what your jewelry is made with and you will have a clear conscience about the impact on the environment.
Artisan created jewelry is hand crafted individually, one at a time, from start to finish using raw materials. Artisan jewelry is not jewelry assembled from pre-made parts, although some jewelers pass that off as ‘handmade’. The quality of the piece of artisan created jewelry is usually far superior to mass produced pieces that come from overseas factories. You get what you pay for. Independent designers have pieces at multiple price points and can work within your budget. Why not invest in the best quality, unique, art jewelry piece? Anyway, who wants a mass produced item that millions of others are wearing? Don’t be a follower, be unique and support original design.
Each piece of jewelry that leaves my studio, and the studios of my designers, is in perfect condition and we all are very proud of what we create. An independent designer would not let an inferior piece of jewelry be sold with their own reputation on the line.
Superior Customer Service
Independent jewelry designers are all running small businesses of their own and want to keep their customers happy. If a chain breaks or an earring is lost or a stone needs to be replaced, it is easy to contact the designers to get problems solved. No robots to talk to and endless buttons to be pressed. Just pick up the phone and speak with the designer or send an email. Easy.
It is also easy to work with an artist to design a custom piece together. Every day in my boutique I am working with someone to customize a piece. Whether it is a quick fix like making dangling earrings into clip on’s or a custom design that requires more time, customers love the fact that they were part of the process.
Piece of Art
You are buying a piece of art when you choose to shop from a designer. There is a connection between the two of you when you opt to purchase something that came from the heart of the artist. Hours of sketching, traditional metalworking, stone setting, sawing, hammering, polishing, etc. go into an artisan created piece of jewelry. You will not only get the beautiful piece, but the story behind the jewelry and the fact that you have invested in the livelihood of an independent working artist.
By purchasing from an independent designer directly or through a small local business in your community, you are playing a role in making the ‘American Dream’ a reality.
Each time I sell a piece of jewelry created by one of the jewelry designers I represent in my boutique, I send them a text message and we both celebrate. Customers should be aware of the fact that actual happy dances are performed when a sale is made. Each sale is a moment of justification, encouragement and joy. Your support of independent jewelry designers and their small businesses not only makes you a gift giving rock star, but you also become part of an artists journey to help them create the life that they love.
By Eileen Baumeister McIntyre
The writer, Eileen Baumeister McIntyre, is an independent artist and jewelry designer and the proprietor of Garden of Silver, a small business, in Westhampton Beach, New York. She represents female independent jewelry designers from the United States and Canada.