Jackie-Stone-articleJacqueline Stone is the chief creative officer of her company, Salt + Stone, working primarily with private clients to build custom engagement rings and wedding bands.Ever heard of Tom Binns Designs? Maybe the name rings a bell. Launched in 2007, this designer’s work was splashed over all the pages of every major fashion magazine from Glamour to Vogue. His proportions were magnificent. The medium? Ground-breaking. He was one of the first designers to play with the space between fashion and fine and dyed freshwater pearls in every color of the rainbow. It took my breath away when Jennifer Aniston graced the cover of a magazine wearing nothing but a rainbow of cascading pearls in hues of red, orange and yellow. And let’s not forget Michelle Pfeiffer sporting a lengthy pearl-encrusted number on the cover of InStyle, July 2009.

Where is Tom Binns now? Does anyone know? I went to TomBinnsDesign.com, which is now in German and definitely isn’t all about jewelry. His Facebook page hasn’t been updated since 2014. When I tried to call the phone number listed it just rang continuously. I almost cried.

For me, my search for answers in the tale of Tom Binns brought to mind the question, does celebrity placement necessarily equate to increased sales?

It’s awards seasons. The Golden Globes, Emmys and Oscars have us all making popcorn dates with our besties so we can ooh and ahh at all the magnificent gems to grace the lobes of gorgeous starlets as they saunter across the red carpet.

Take away the business aspect and the awards season gives jewelers their place to shine. Factor money back in and it’s not always the wisest move. Does it give the jeweler publicity and prestige? Yes. Does it lead to direct sales? Most likely not. In my mind celebrity placements are equivalent to advertising versus strategic marketing.

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Let’s test my theory. The online blogger recaps of the red carpet baubles are splashy and fun, but take a closer look and you won’t pick up on any new or relatively unknown designers. Naomi Watts has a Bulgari diamond-encrusted snake wrapped around her neck, Emily Blunt sports garden-inspired earrings dripping in bling by Lorraine Swartz and Jessica Alba sparkles so brightly in a diamond necklace by Harry Winston that we can barely see her! I see no one sporting bling created by the magician Alishan, the impeccable craftsmanship of Aaron Henry or the elegance of Spencer Fine Jewels. Heck, even the superstar of our trade, Mr. Todd Reed, doesn’t seem to be making a cameo. Have I missed something? Perhaps.

I posed the question to some jewelry designers whom I respect and admire. Kevin Potter of Potter USA stated, “I have made pieces for famous people. The first time I did I thought I’d be flooded with work and unfortunately there was absolutely no change. The second time I was a little more realistic. I have made a few pieces over the years and can honestly say it’s had no effect on my business other than a good sale.”

Priyanka Murthy of Arya Esha, a 2015 JCK Rising Star, might have a different opinion. 


The emerging designer has seen her work grace the décolletage of many a famous starlet. Has it directly boosted her bottom line? No, but Ms. Murthy understands the power and long-term benefits of advertising. Potential buyers see her grace the pages of the glossies and are intrigued.

When I approached her at JCK Las Vegas last year I was convinced her work was worn by so many leading ladies due to a huge publicity campaign. I was shocked to discover my assumption was dead wrong. Priyanka calls the celebrities and/or their stylists or agents herself. She’s had a ton of doors slammed in her face, but she doesn’t take it personally. She knows for every 10 inquires only one might be a yes. This gal has gumption! I admire her guts and drive.

If you have time available to hustle and make the difficult phone calls, by all means go for it. Most emerging designers don’t have this luxury and don’t necessarily need this to be their focus in the beginning. As I learned from one of my awesome mentors, the fabulous Cindy Edelstein, too many newbies jump into the public relations game way too soon. She encouraged me to put my focus back where I really needed it: sales and strategic marketing to my target clientele.  

What does this mean for the rest of us emerging designers?

Well, like most things in life, balance is key. I dream one day my jewelry will be worn by the likes of Kate Winslet, but for now I need to put a lot more energy into my benchwork and building relationships slowly with emerging designer friendly retailers (FYI, Squash Blossom is probably my favorite.)

Or maybe I need to dream bigger. Lately I’ve been fantasizing about a glittering sea of yellow diamonds and golden birds being worn by one of my best friends, Maggie Belle Caplis. Stopped while sauntering down the red carpet she’ll proclaim, “Oh this old thing? Jackie told me to wear it for good luck. I’m up for best actress after all.”

Jacqueline Stone has a background in finance, marketing, advertising, product development, fine jewelry manufacturing, design and sourcing. She is the chief creative officer of her company, Salt + Stone, working primarily with private clients to build custom engagement rings and wedding bands.




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