ASTORIA — The holiday season is an important season for businesses across the spectrum, but the season of giving is particularly important for jewelers big and small.
Thirty-three percent of all engagements happen between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, according to WeddingWire, a wedding planning site. That fact, plus Christmas presents, means the period accounts for 36 percent of jewelry store sales, according figures from the Economics & Statistics Administration.
“Twenty-five percent of engagements happen during the holidays, which is significant,” said Holly, co-owner of McHone Jewelers along with her husband Kevin.
“We do 25 percent of our business during the holidays. That’s typical,” she said. Crafting custom jewelry is the focus for the business, located at 1150 Commercial Street in Astoria.
“We’re always busy with custom pieces around the holidays,” she said. The nature of the giving season lends to increased sales.
“Then there’s the sentimental nature of giving something personal,” McHone said. “Jewelry is very popular for that.”
Since opening their doors more than 12 years ago, the family-run jewelry business has witnessed trends in the industry and has built their business around listening to the customer.
“We still predominantly see diamonds for engagements and wedding,” McHone said. “But saphires in any color are becoming more popular. If you want something different, you can go with a sapphire and make it more unique.” A preference for silver has since shifted to varying colors of gold.
“Everybody wanted white gold,” McHone said. “But now they’re going more with yellow gold.” Aside from traditional silver and gold rings, the store started carrying alternative metal pieces about eight years ago with a growing demand for more durable rings. With a hardness twice that of traditional gold and silver, alloys such as titanium have become more popular, particularly for those in more rugged occupations including logging and fishing.
“They’re a great alternative for guys who use their hands a lot,” McHone said. Titanium is also corrosion resistant and more durable for when working in the wet environments that are prevalent in the Pacific Northwest. The store also creates jewelry with local stones and agates.
“A lot of people love that we have Oregon stones,” McHone said.
“We have Oregon sunstone, opal and agates. Keeping it local is very important not only for Oregon customers but also our tourists.”
The material and shape of a ring is not only influenced by personality, preference and budget, but also profession. A ring designed for the rigors of logging or fishing profession would come with a different set of considerations compared to a piece destined for someone medical field, where wearing gloves necessitates a lower profile.
“A lot of people in the medical field need a lower profile because they’re putting gloves on all the time,” McHone said. The custom jewelry is designed using a computer-aided design and drafting program (CADD).
“We can do just about any design you can think of. We design just about everything with CADD program,” McHone said. “And we then mill a wax model or we use our new 3D printer.” The possibilities for custom jewelry creation are nearly limitless, one customer, a Coast Guard rescue swimmer, had a ring crafted from a piece of steel he hung off of while in the helicopter. It typically takes four to six weeks from design to construction when it comes to custom jewelry. In-house laser repairs is also available making extensive jewelry repair possible.
“We’ve just always tried to keep evolving and changing with technology within the business, not just designs,” McHone said.
“The most important aspect is listening to the customer, so they get what they want.”