In the world of craft shows, there are some big do's and dont's when it comes to displays for jewelry. I try to carefully consider every aspect of my displays when I'm working on putting them together, and my main points of concern are as follows:
It is important that the display not overwhelm the jewelry itself, and I've had a few displays that got far more compliments than the jewelry on it. I've even had people ask to purchase my homemade displays, or ask me to make one for them. (which in and of itself wasn't a bad thing, it was a lot of fun designing one for someone else!) Nonetheless, the most important part of your display is that the jewelry looks stunning and the display itself is not attention getting.
Laying jewelry (and many other products) flat on a table has to big negative effects - it makes it far to easy to walk right on past your table without noticing a thing, and it can give the appearance of a yard sale table. Neither of these are good, so using vertical displays and risers as well as taller tables can help push your display into eye contact range.
My back doesn't appreciate heavy displays, so I have to make sure that everything I use is as light as possible. Fortunately the jewelry I sell isn't heavy at all, but some of the ceramic trays I use are!
When I'm at a craft show shopping, I am looking for quirky, unique, handmade things that each have their own special story and are hopefully one of a kind. When I see a display that utilizes jeweler's trays heavily or otherwise looks kind of like something you'd see in a mall, I almost invariably ignore that stand. It's not to be mean, it's because I know from experience booths like that rarely have anything I'd be interested in. In fact, I'm usually more interested in the table with a few things carefully laid out even if it breaks all the other rules. The idea is somewhere in the middle - a display that looks professional but doesn't look like it could have come from any store in your city.
We're all trying to earn money from shows rather than break the bank setting up for it. I usually have a pretty firm budget about what I'll pay for the items I need. I know that as I earn money I can buy an expensive piece here or there that will improve my display - and simple, inexpensive things can make gorgeous displays with a little effort and know how.
Once upon a time I thought it would be fun to use origami to display jewelry... it looked pretty cool when initially set up, but as people handled it, some pieces came unfolded and others weren't solid or heavy enough to continue standing up properly. I learned that displays need to be durable in the way that they will withstand people walking by and touching them without falling over, collapsing, or coming undone halfway through the day. This usually isn't a problem with purchased displays, more so with the ones I make. When I make them, the fewer moving parts there are, the better!
-how well it shows the jewelry off
Of course this is the most important part. Sure you can find a cheap piece of something to sit your earrings on but will it play them up to their best? Probably not. Some earrings look best on cards, others look best freely hanging. Bangles can look great in just about any setting, but chain bracelets can look limp and less inviting if not displayed right. It is important to have a variety of types of displays and I like to have more than I need. Since my jewelry is handmade and each piece is unique, the same setup won't work each time as my stock constantly changes.
With all of this in mind, here are some of my favorite ways to display jewelry.
- Most earrings go on cards and are then hung from some type of rack. Currently, I am using a metal grid display with Christmas ornament hooks to hang them and in the past I used converted lamps. The lamps were great, but I learned to keep them as plain as possible to keep the focus on the jewelry. The deconstructed lamp shades can also be sat on a lazy susan so that they can be turned. (I had the finial's on somewhat loosely so that the lampshades turned freely) Other earrings are laid down or hung without cards from bars or little wire displays
- The craft stores is a great place to get displays - check the unfinished wood items for a treasure trove of ideas. It is there that I got two different sizes of wooden trays intended to have mosaic added to them. They kind of look like mini serving trays, and I will be sanding and painting them, and adding a fixture to the back so that they can hold a necklace and stand up like easels. There are also items that can be painted and used as risers like trays and crates, and a multitude of other fun things. (I've decided to make using these options a post of their own... I could post several paragraphs just on painting!)
- I do use a few busts for necklaces, simply because there are necklaces I make that cannot have justice done to them by laying down or hanging flat. They have to be displayed on a neck in order to convey that they are indeed necklaces and not just sculptures. Most of my necklaces are on chains or cords, and can be hung in picture frames or on the aforementioned mini trays, or laid out flat.
- For the jewelry I'm laying out flat, I like to take some sort of dish and fill it with something that is visually attractive but also not too busy. I'd use sand, except that it would get all over my jewelry and be a mess to use. Sand just happens to be the ideal in non busy because the particles are so small. I know many people use beans or rice, but for me it's too "off" white and busy of a backdrop for my jewelry. I'm going to try out some little glass pebbles (about rice size) and see how that works. Other options are putting a piece of fabric in the bowl on top of a filler of your choice, not using any filler at all, or using dried moss as a filler. It retains its gorgeous green color and provides a lovely backdrop especially for metal or light colored jewelry.
- For rings and bracelets, I have yet to figure out what I prefer as a display. The bracelets will probably end up laid out flat in one of my trays or draped over something. Rings do seem to work best in trays or individual boxes, but I will have to come up with a solution for them as I have quite a few to display.
These are the fairly inexpensive displays I've come up with for my table, feel free to share in the comments any ideas you've had!!