The Little Things


I'm in the midst of prepping for the upcoming Seattle Gift Show. As part of that, I'm stocking my toolbox (a rolling three-chamber dealie with a rounded top that I lovingly refer to as 'R2' - as in 'R2D2', get it?!) and filling a crate with miscellaneous items to be used as props in the New Product display. I throw all kinds of stuff in there because I never know what I'll need - until that small item shows up allllll by it's lonesome little self, desperate for some proppin' to make it shine!

The photos here illustrate how just about anything can be used to lift, elevate, spotlight, and assist in the visual presentation of small items like jewelry. Even bubble wrap, as seen above, adds a playful element to the colorful and contemporary beaded jewelry and gives it a sense of movement.

Placing necklaces around the necks of these stunning glass vases causes them to curve and drape, just as they would when worn on a woman's body.

Jewelry is created to be worn on a living, moving, breathing body - and it usually looks its best when the prop makes the necklace or bracelet curve and sway and reflect light, much like our arms and necks & shoulders do when we wear it. Earrings are meant to sway from our ears, so lying them flat to show them off is just a sure-fire way to make them look bland. Hang 'em from something, drape them over or on top of fluid fabric...anything to give a sense of movement. Even rings look best when worn - if you've ever gone to Tiifany's to just try on a huge rock, you know that it only really begins to sparkle and shine when it is slipped onto your finger and you lift your hand to the light. It's all truly just rocks and metals, until it moves and catches the light!

Props should reflect the nature (pun intended) of the product, as well...these chunks of bark add texture and roughness, which draws attention to the smoothness and shiny surface of the stones used in the jewelry.

Sorry the lighting in these photos is so off... but you can still see that using even simple photos on paper and adding jewelry to them in a playful way, brings a spark to already beautiful merchandise. This exemplifies a typical last-minute brainstorm situation: I was given a ziplock baggie of eight pieces of teeeny tiny jewelry to put into a large display area. (Oh yeah, and make it look STUNNING! ahem.) I paged through a tourist magazine nearby, found an article on the Chinese New Year celebration and subsequent art exhibit at a museum, and started cutting out the photos. I also went to the exhibitors' booth and grabbed a few of her postcards to use.

The lovely face of the statue in the photo works well with the 'heart' shapes of the jewelry, her ears obviously lent themselves to a pair of dangling earrings, and the modern black/white/gold combination of props actually elevated the product from simply 'sweet' & 'delicate' to 'classic'. (Damn, I'm good!) They loved it, BTW.

My friend June Beach is a jewelry designer with an eye for color and display. She makes the most amazing things, including beach glass / sea glass jewelry. When she photographs it, what props do you think she uses? Why, sand and driftwood, of course! Do visit her blog at Beach Haus Designs for more great jewelry display ideas. (She sells wholesale, too!)


If you are exhibiting jewelry at a show, or arranging some in a display case in your store, remember to get creative with props and add movement to your displays!

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my take on retail visual design:

"The thing is, retail design is driven by psychology. It is by manipulating space, visuals, lighting, sound, smell, and mood that we influence customers to enter, stay, browse, buy, and return. It is an endless exercise in change, endurance, growth, education, and imagination that enables retailers to stay on top of their game and at the forefront of their customer's minds. Yes, what you sell IS important - but even the very best merchandise won't sell at full price if it's presented in torn boxes on dirty shelves in a store that is too crowded to turn around in. Visual impact is a huge part of business, and utilizing the principles that have been proven to work can help you build a better business." ~ DWK