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January 06, 2010

High Price Tags Explained: Why a Hen in an Egg Necklace Costs Nearly 10 Grand

The Swelle Life3-2 You can never be too educated about any one thing, and fashion is no exception. We should know something about how the goods we're buying are made and why they cost what they do. Prices can range from a £1 t-shirt from Primark (there's only one way those can be produced so cheaply, people!) to thousands of whatever currency you use to max out your plastic. The value of high fashion is largely subjective; for some the label alone is worth the cost and for others there must something special - even irreplaceable - about the piece to justify the spend, like haute couture for example. Or an expertly crafted piece of fine jewelry with a surprise inside.

And that takes us to Wendy Brandes, whose recent post, Get Smart (About Manufacturing) prompted this one. I featured Wendy last spring but if you're not yet one of her adoring fans and need a quick introduction, Wendy is a New York-based fine jewelry designer who tells a story with each of her wearable art pieces - usually a tale of a naughty, pious or tragic royal woman from the more fascinating and freaky eras in world history.

Wendy has, a few times now, written about how she prices her jewelry as she does, which is something that anyone who charges high-end prices for exquisite things should do - it lends legitimacy to the work and ultimately, fosters appreciation. Oddly, it's not the most common of practices and also, buyers don't always ask the questions; we can be a bit complacent when it comes to justifying our big buck spending (that's how the tightwads are balanced, I guess).

In some cases I think it's a lack of marketing savvy that causes a talented designer to undersell herself when her own enterprise is the point of sale. But usually it's a shop selling a range of designers, whether it be online or brick and mortar, that fails in its responsibility - I think it's a responsibility - to demonstrate why something is special, whether it be a great fit; a premium fabric; a story about what inspired the designer or a particular technique that was used to make this thing you're considering spending the rent on. We want to be convinced, yet so few actually play ball. Dumbasses. Let us assume then there is nothing special (which unfortunately is the case sometimes) and go to someone who has something to share with us.

So that's my thinking on the issue and it's no secret if you read this blog that I feel very passionately about contextual objects that are created with such love, knowledge, the benefit of a discerning eye and exceptional skill that they become art, and garnering support for the people - the independents who do it all themselves - who bring us these things (it figures into a project I'm launching in the spring).

Therefore I urge you to read Wendy's post and all of its links if you have the time, which explains in detail - you'll get an education - why her gold, silver and gem jewelry costs what it does. Once you understand how manufacturing works you can see how the processes and intricacies apply to just about anything with a price tag. And that's good information to have at the top of your brain whenever you've got your wallet in hand. And let's not forget the fun of learning why the golden egg that opens to reveal a diamond-eyed silver hen that sits on a nest with three golden eggs is worth $9,500. I certainly think it is.

You can browse Wendy's entire collection at WendyBrandes.com and be sure to read the descriptions of each piece for a tasty tidbit of delicious history.




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Oh my God, Denise, I'm fainting! I'm really honored to have inspired such a thoughtful post. You said things I wish I said!

you did such a great job here:)

I loved Wendy's post (although I feel bad that she felt that she had to explain herself AT ALL)...she is one talented lady!

What a nicely written post. I'm a huge fan of Miss Wendy, her blog and her jewelry line. XOXO, Jen


I just find your blog and I´m loving it

You got a lot of great images and posts

Did you take the picture of your banner? I like it


Ahhh to be able to buy such exquisite pieces. One day maybe.


Thank you, everyone! This is something I feel very strongly about, as you can see!

Wendy - I wish that everyone with more money than taste and brains could understand what independent designers go through to sell their work, and use their cash to support them instead of haphazardly buying a trendy 'luxury' piece that means nothing to them and will replaced in a matter of months. BAH!

Denise ♥

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