Jewelry shoppers at the mall may flock to the latest trends. But at spiritual stores, sales of necklaces, bracelets and gemstones tend to be driven more by individual considerations, retailers interviewed for this article said.
“It’s not one size fits all. The jewelry that we sell really varies by what people need,” explained Marie Sobanski, owner of The Shamanic Vine in Kalamazoo, Mich. At inspirational stores like The Shamanic Vine, gemstones are often associated with metaphysical properties like love, healing, prosperity and good fortune. “There are so many ailments people can have, so there’s no one gemstone that sells better than the rest,” said Sobanski. “It’s a real roller coaster; everyone’s looking for something different.”
At The Veiled Crow in Cranston, RI., shoppers often come in looking for healing gems to suit their particular circumstance, from illness to broken hearts, said Owner Tracy Lawrence. “They like to know what each stone stands for,” she said. No particular item stands out as a top seller at the 750-square-foot boutique, Lawrence added, because “jewelry is like that — it’s just so individual.”
That said, certain trends are evident for 2020. In contrast to the 1990s-style chokers that have dominated fashion jewelry recently, spiritual shoppers are gravitating toward much longer necklaces this year, retailers report. Especially popular right now are so-called mala necklaces, which feature 108 beads that correspond to the repetition of a particular mantra.
“Our customers prefer longer necklaces,” said Lawrence at The Veiled Crow. “They’re easy to wear.”
Lengthy, mala style beaded necklaces are also the favorites for customers at Timbuktu, a boutique in Woodstock, N.Y. All kinds of stones are popular, said Owner Jaime Surgil, with labradorite and colorful crystals selling especially strongly. “We sell so many different kinds of beaded necklaces and bracelets, and they all do well, depending on who’s buying,” said Surgil. She herself is an artist and designs much of the jewelry for her own boutique.
In quirky Woodstock — where the clientele is a mix of locals, weekenders and vacationers — tastes in jewelry run the gamut. And while some are drawn by gemstones’ purported qualities, others are simply aesthetes looking for a beautiful piece or a one-of-a-kind gift. “I love all the various stones, and I mix them up all the time. I like what I like, and I buy what I like,” said Surgil. “And people also seem to like what I like.” It’s a formula that works; Surgil’s business has thrived in the New York resort town for 24 years.
Across the country in Santa Barbara, Calif., Teresa Taylor has noticed the vogue for longer, flowy, mala-style necklaces among the customers at her boutique, Paradise Found. Her store specializes in handcrafted metal jewelry from Golden State artisans, many of whom are local to Santa Barbara County. “Our jewelry is mostly handmade with love pieces,” said Taylor.
Despite the vogue for all-natural products — especially in California — Taylor said fiber jewelry has not taken off as a category for the store, apart from an inexpensive line of crocheted fiber pieces set with beads. “I think it’s just not as durable,” observed the retailer of fiber jewelry. “If you have a beautiful stone, you want to set in a way that lasts.” The organic textures of fiber, however, are popular in metal iterations, Taylor added. “We’ve got gorgeous, exquisite, hand crocheted silver and recycled metal settings that people love.”
At Paradise Found, the best-selling gemstones are moonstone and labradorite, which both have a dreamy, silvery white glow. “There’s an aliveness to them,”
explained Taylor. “They just have that beautiful flash, that chatoyancy. And the moonstone is a very feminine stone.”
Moonstone has also been very popular this year at Journey Home, a 1,000-square-foot store in Ventura, Calif. Amethyst is always a classic and a favorite with customers, said longtime Manager and Buyer Chloe Michaud. She added that onyx and shungite, both lustrous, black carbon-based stones, have also gotten a lot of interest from customers lately.
Top selling styles, however, tend to vary by age group, Michaud said. “Younger people will go for either the raw, wrapped pieces, or every day, daintier items that they can dress up and down, such as pendants,” she said. More mature clients, Michaud noted, are drawn to bolder, statement pieces, which are often vintage; these gemstone shoppers also more likely to be interested in higher quality cut and clarity.
Journey Home was one of the first stores of its kind in Ventura County, Michaud noted, and has been selling artisan wares for 32 years. The store does a brisk business in inexpensive, easy-to-wear jewelry: earrings, pendants, sterling silver chains sold separately by length, and stretchy, beaded casual bracelets. “Rose quartz, amethyst, that’s everyday wear, and they make great gifts, too,” noted Michaud. “We really do sell a lot of those.”