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Fashion vs. fine - fine jewelry - Apparel Merchandising

If all the world's a stage, ponder for a moment the vital role played by costume jewelry--particularly for those not holding season tickets in the orchestra section.

Discount stores have for years relied on "fashion" jewelry lines to build incremental soft lines sales. With more competition and sophistication among the vendors in this category, it has become easier to offer on-trend looks in quick-turning presentations. But now marketers are grappling with ways to keep volume growing, and they've turned to costume jewelry's rich relation.

Fine jewelry's surge in the mass channel has set up a retail dichotomy.

"In costume jewelry, the trend is for the week. And now, with customers seeing no great trend in costume, they are trading up for a more long-lasting commodity in fine jewelry, where the quality of the jewelry they buy withstands use," says Jane Thompson, divisional merchandise manager at Caldor, Norwalk, Conn.

The trade-up is not always much of a leap for customers. Thompson adds, "We can offer trends in fine jewelry at comparable price points: great earrings and bracelets under $20 from 10-karat to 14-karat gold."

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