I was going to post this in a couple of the jeweler's forums and then realized that lots of other folks look at and buy jewelry, so I'd be missing out on some information from people not in my media! This question is in regards to the two main styles of jewelry display... under glass/in cases and out open. If one attends any of the "big dog" art shows as we've discussed in the past, one would notice that all the jewelry presented is predominately displayed under glass in cases. (The artist may have some exposed displays with earrings, etc., but the bulk is under glass.) For some jewelers, particularly those that work in gold and gemstones, this is a matter of security. For others, while the bulk of their work might be considered "high end" and therefore needing to be in cases for security purposes, it might also be because it is more professional looking and, well, the whole "if everyone else has things under glass then I must do so too" mentality. At most mid-level, etc. shows, however, most jewelry displays are on busts and out in the open. I've seen some fabulous looking booths and displays that really compliment the work, but if a booth is crowded, I can see how it would be easy to have something walk off... The question I pose is, since jewelry is such a tactile purchase (people like to touch it and try it on and handle it, etc.), does having things "under glass" detract individuals from looking at jewelry more closely? Is there the mental block of "If it's in a case I probably can't afford it"? Does "out open" displays just look too unprofessional for "big shows"? How do you deal with security and/or a manhandling crowd?

If you make jewelry, share what types of displays you use and why, and any tips you'd be willing to share. If you are a looker of jewelry, what do you think when you see a display under glass versus out in the open? What are obstacles that keep you from buying? What encourages you (besides the seller, of course...) to look more and buy more?

I'm just very curious as we've had several conversations about this subject in some of my local art groups and wondered what a more diverse crowd of artists thinks...


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  • I just started using 2 glass cases to put the expensive pieces in. To draw customers into the booth, I keep an earring rack on top of each case, with low price points at the top of the rack. I have one open-air table in the booth w/carded earrings in a tray. That table drew in customers that were nervous about the cases & would've otherwise skipped my booth. 

    My sales have improved since I switched to the glass cases, but that might be because my work is so delicate & tiny that they were not showing well on traditional busts. The other bonus is there's only one tray to straighten up after customers (can't believe how people just toss things willy-nilly). Jewelry stays cleaner!

  • I came across this thread in my search for a source for the glass or acrylic jewelry showcases for shows.  Would anyone like to share a source for them please?  Thanks in advance!
    • I recently had theft from my open air jewelry booth which totaled over $1,100. It happened so fast as it was a team hitting various booths. I have since invested about $400 in locking acrylic cases from DisplayWarehouse.com They are a great reputable company in Southern California. I ordered 2 hexagon shaped 2 shelf counter top units and one rectangular 2 shelf counter top. The first to arrive was the rectangular unit which was damaged in transit. I contacted them via phone right away and they asked for email pictures, which I did send and they told me to keep the damaged one and sent a whole new unit without charging additional for S&H. Each unit was shipped separately and no others were received damaged. I would recommend them as a source for display cases.
  • Hi there - I'm gearing up for my second season of shows, and I am going to get some kind of glass (or acrylic, will get to that question in a second) displays. The main reason, for me, is theft - I had 3 or 4 bracelets stolen from me (pretty pricey ones) in the 4 shows I did last year, even though I had a second set of eyes, and am pretty savvy (I grew up in Chicago and am quite used to being suspicious of people's behavior - ha). Also, I think that I'm in between high end and lower end style jewelry, so it's possible that glass covers will give me the extra "cachet" for that boutique crowd; the shows I did last year all seemed to have jewelers who did well with sales when they had stuff under glass.


    I have decided to build my own displays - a lot cheaper than the ones you buy, and are collapsible. I've been seeing them a lot at shows.


    One question, if anyone has an answer: any pro/cons about acrylic? It's a lot lighter, and less prone to breakage than glass; but I've heard that it can scratch more easily. I've also heard the current generation of acrylic (can't remember the special name) doesn't have the scratch problem - but I've found it to be TWICE as expensive as glass! So, I can't decide what to use. Any thoughts?

    • The sides of my cases are acrylic and I made bubble wrap envelopes for all of them. My brother in law helped me set them up last weekend and thought I must have replaced them because they looked new. I said no I just pack them carefully and make sure to clean them. I have a couple of scuffs that I put towards the back on the side.
      • Are the tops glass, or acrylic too? I also think of weight as a factor, as well as I didn't know how combining glass and acrylic would look...so if you combine, that would be really good to know!  I think I might go the acrylic route...if I use your bubble wrap method. Thanks.
        • Lexan is the name of toughest product I know of. There may be newer, tougher stuff out now, but Lexan is what we used to cover huge stained glass windows in churches. It is harder to scratch and doesn't yellow like plexiglass does. It is more expensive, but will last much longer.
    • I like acrylic, mostly for the reduced breakage factor. It is very haard to cut yourself on plastic!   The high cost acrylic is probably polycarbonate, superstrong - but very hard to work with.   I find that acrylic does have less of a glare problem....
  • I actually have both set-ups... very nice displays with cases and outside of cases.  I have both because I applied to and was accepted to a show that specifically stated that all jewelry needed to be under glass.  (Sidebar... imagine how ticked off I was when I invested quite a bit in the new displays only to arrive at the venue to see PLENTY of jewelers using open air displays... was NOT a happy camper!)  What I struggle with now, particularly if it's a new show to me, is which display to bring.  I don't have the hauling capacity to bring both (and all the stuff that goes with each), and I'm just struggling to figure this out.  I sort-of wish shows would actually state their requirements so it's not such a difficult decision!  I brought my case displays to a show recently that I probably sould have been all open air, and I wonder if my sales were lessened because I was one of only 2 under glass, although I had the prices out and clearly marked, and even had items on top of the cases for people to see and touch.  I just wonder what others do in selecting what to take display-wise... I was also hoping a "viewer or two" would chime in as to what makes them look or not look at items in a case.

  • I used to have everything out in the open but as I have upgraded my booth to get into better shows I now have two glass jewelry cases.  I still have somethings out in the open but pieces that are small or more expensive go in the case.  If someone is looking at the case and talking about a piece I bring it out and let them know it is no problem to bring anything out of the case for them to see and try on.  I do try to have prices visible when possible.  As for earrings, I have them on cards which are velcroed to my armstrong panels.  I did have the prices on the back of the earring card but am going to move them to the front as people are hesitant to pull the card off the panel.  I think this may also deter teens trying to steal earrings (Only theft I ever had - knock on wood). I do think the cases give an upscale look to the booth.
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