Female jewelers shine at department stores

Female jewelers shine at department stores
A moonstone ring and pendant top designed by Izumi Abe.

Female jewelry designers are increasing their presence. Many of their pieces have distinctive characteristics and designs that take the wearer into account and can be worn casually, attracting fashion-conscious women. Their designs are also not generally influenced by the fashion of the moment.

Department stores promote these budding designers by prominently displaying their work, while companies encourage the women to continue to produce original designs.

Izumi Abe, who learned jewelry production in New York, recently displayed her works in the accessory section of Matsuya Ginza department store in Tokyo. These works use moonstone, turquoise and old Venetian glass among other materials and are priced mainly between ¥20,000 (S$228.4) to ¥40,000.

For several years now, the section, which features different brands each week, increasingly showcases the work of female designers, according to Tomoka Hashimoto, who is in charge of purchasing stock.

"They are pretty artistic," Hashimoto said. "Also, many of them are meticulously designed by female designers using sensibilities that consider their female customers' needs, such as having light weight, easy-to-use clasps and one piece with multiple uses."

Isetan Shinjuku department store in Tokyo also endeavours to discover and promote female jewelry designers that "surprise and move customers with their attractive and original products."

The store, in collaboration with a jewelry design school in Tokyo, has chosen three graduates of the school. The store met with the designers and arranged for the three women to make original pieces in a yearlong project.

Yurika Hibi, 27, one of the designers, said, "I designed my pieces so they can be worn even with daily clothing." Her pearl and sapphire pieces were charming. A ring was priced at ¥162,000. Their pieces were sold in December, and will be sold again in March at the store.

Refic in Tokyo has also helped female designers sell their products.

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The Yomiuri Shimbun Izumi Abe explains her jewelry pieces. The company managed to secure retail space at a commercial facility for about 80 brands to sell their products in turn. Roughly 90 per cent of their designers are women, according to Takeya Morita, 39, who heads the company.

"Many of them aren't easily influenced by what is in vogue, but rather value their own design style," Morita said. "The appeal of products of female designers is that they are so distinctive."

The company currently has a shop in the Shibuya Hikarie commercial complex in Tokyo. It will also open a store in a commercial facility that will open at JR Osaka Station this spring.

In some cases, female jewelry artists attract regular customers to their distinctive designs and have managed to set up their own shops.

Sirisiri sells jewelry items using glass decorated by traditional Edo kiriko cut glass techniques, rattan and acrylic materials. They are mainly priced between ¥30,000 and ¥40,000.

Naho Okamoto, 33, who produced these items, said the designs were the result of her allergy to some metals. Due to the problem, she could wear very few jewelry pieces.

After selling her pieces at select shops, she opened her own store in Minato Ward, Tokyo, in January, as she wanted to explain her pieces to visitors personally.

"I want to continue making pieces that have a compelling presence that aren't influenced by fashion," she said.

Takako Komiya, senior director of the Japan Jewellery Designers Association, said: "Female designers have begun actively promoting their products. Department stores began paying attention to designers who produced distinctive design styles. It means the Japanese jewelry market has matured and wants more characteristic products.

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