The Next Big Thing

The annals of gem and jewelry marketing history are filled with great accomplishments. In the last two decades alone, we’ve enjoyed the “crystal craze,” mood rings and Pet Rocks.

What have we done lately, though, to grab the public’s attention? Nothing. So the time is perfect for the next big thing. But before we start dreaming, let’s look back through history at some marketing ideas that didn’t get off the ground so that we aren’t doomed to repeat them.

Did you know that the gemstone tumbler was almost created back in Biblical times? In Kings 2, Chapter 3, Verse 4, Jackson 5, a story is told of a wandering prophet named Eucalyptus who has a vision of a giant machine into which bad people are tossed. It spins them around in a great slurry until their souls are clean. Unfortunately, he mistook the rough gem material in his dream for people. Deciding to keep this horrible nightmare to himself, he actually delayed the invention of the tumbler by over a thousand years.

And what about the Sheboygan Ring Puller? It could have been a household name, but it isn’t. The tool was invented back in the 1920’s by an ironsmith named Dullard Brown, from Sheboygan, Wisconsin. His wife complained during her first pregnancy of swollen fingers at night, making it difficult to take her wedding band off, which she would place on the bedside table. Dullard’s invention looked like a cross between pliers and a cookie cutter.

Although the device worked well in the first trimester, at about day 110 Dullard squeezed and twisted a little too hard and his wife’s finger came off with the ring. After news of the accident spread throughout the town, a local company interested in manufacturing the Ring Puller immediately scuttled their plans, and it never went to market. The baby was born without complications ... Mrs. Brown had insisted that no forceps be used.

Finally, there’s Eunice Kretzler, of Redlands, California. One day in 1982, while eating a hot fudge sundae, she accidentally spilled chocolate onto an emerald ring she was wearing. After licking the sauce off the stone, she noticed that it continued to impart a delightful aroma. Inspired, she began creating and selling “fragrant chocolate gemstone rings” through a local retail jeweler.

The product did carry the advertised scent, but a few early buyers needed dental work after apparently mistaking the gemstones for actual candy and biting into them. Discouraged by her insurance carrier from continuing her work in gemstone chocolafication, she abandoned the lapidary field altogether and started writing a book of recipes for chicken pot pie.

Marketing handcrafted jewelry takes creativity, guile and the willingness to take chances. Whether you get your ideas from a crazy dream, a common problem you experience, or from being a sloppy eater, consider this:

You’ll never know if they’ll work unless you try. Some of your ideas might wind up like the Sheboygan Ring Puller.

But, on the other hand, you might be onto the next big thing.