By Ashley Davis
Wendy Brandes will be exhibiting at Couture this year, where she will offer select retailers a new concierge service.
New York—In the decade-plus since she launched her namesake brand, Wendy Brandes has witnessed a great deal of change in fine jewelry retail.

From consignment to online shopping, pressure has increased on retailers and designers alike.

Now, Brandes has developed a new approach to business she feels will be easier for all parties involved: a concierge service that will allow retailers to order her one-of-a-kind pieces on loan for a two-week period to show their clientele.

If a piece sells, the retailer will add their typical mark-up; if a customer passes, the retailer can simply return it.

In a press release, Brandes explained she was inspired to create the concierge service after exhibiting at the 2016 JCK Luxury show; buyers were attracted to Brandes’ one-of-a-kind pieces but were hesitant to commit to them.

The concierge service allows retailers to select pieces specifically for their clients and show them in an intimate, one-on-one setting without any financial strings attached, giving customers access to Wendy Brandes—and her most creative and labor intensive pieces—that might not have known the brand otherwise.

“My customers know me personally,” Brandes said. “They’ve followed my blog for 10-plus years; they tweet with me until 3 a.m., and they call upon me to make some of their most emotionally significant jewelry dreams come true, like their engagement rings or wedding bands. I want to partner with retailers who have the same level of closeness with their customers. And for those who don’t have that level of authenticity yet, I want to help them create it by giving them the tools to make those connections.

She added, “We encourage our partners to keep tabs on birthdays, anniversaries and other momentous occasions in their customers’ lives. When the time comes, treat them to a glass of champagne and a one-on-one try-on of something they truly can’t get anywhere else.”

Brandes soft-launched the service in 2017 to a few retailers: Hummingbird Jewelers in Rhinebeck, New York; Steve Quick Jeweler in Chicago, Illinois; and Alexander Jewelers in Columbus, Ohio.

Alexander Jewelers’ store manager, Shane Hampton, discovered Brandes on the Couture show’s website and subsequently ordered eight one-of-a-kind pieces on loan to show a client.

Hampton said, “Alexanders Jewelers was founded with the guiding principles of exclusive individualism, and the Wendy Brandes brand fits those principles exactly. We could not be more excited to introduce the Midwest to her innovative and ground-breaking, one-of-a-kind designs.”

Brandes is rolling out the service officially this spring at the Couture show, where she will be exhibiting.

As the program develops, Eryn Patton-Decker, the company’s head of brand development, said, “We are keeping a tight list of partners because exclusivity is what has always driven our brand. Our customers outside of New York City are looking for our signature details, like hidden diamonds and secret compartments, as well as an uncommon level of workmanship. And we’re ready to work with retailers to bring it to them, with Couture being the ideal place to make new connections across the country.”

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