It’s so frustrating and disheartening when your work is knocked off. Designs are the lifeblood of a company and for another to take credit for your work is the equivalent of stealing. NY jewelry designer Wendy Brandes shared her experience earlier this year here when Top Shop “borrowed” her designs.
I find myself in a similar situation, though on a smaller scale. I recently became aware of jewelry designs that are identical and extremely similar to my own, being sold by Laura Preshong, a Boston jeweler. The owner bought jewelry from me as a regular customer back in 2010 and subsequently, I have found her name associated with jewelry I would have mistaken for my own. From internet press clippings it appears she has been selling my work since at least 2011. To be absolutely certain to not falsely accuse, I purchased a brass twig bracelet from her online store and compared it to my own sample in sterling. Holding the fake and feeling nauseous and angry, it was a snap to confirm that Laura Preshong made a mold of my work because every bud and line match exactly. There is one notable difference that is consistent with making copies -her bracelet is a hair smaller. When silicone molds are used to duplicate designs, each generation becomes slightly smaller because the molds shrink three to ten percent when curing
We live in the digital age where ideas are rapidly and widely disseminated. But this open sharing is not a license to take what you like. Honesty and integrity are still important values in today’s fast paced world. Andrea Hill, a respected consultant within the jewelry industry and public speaker, has written a blog post about this very issue. She clearly takes the position that designer knock-offs are “absolutely not!” an acceptable business practice. Andrea encourages stores to play fairly. If a designer’s work appeals, contact them, express admiration and inquire if he/she would like to be represented in your store – brick and mortar or online. By building relationships that benefit both Parties, stores can offer fresh product to their customers and cultivate new talent. Retailers have a unique opportunity to influence design and nurture new brands. Legitimate and respectful outlets for jewelry, art, clothing, music, etc. contribute to a vibrant and diverse marketplace for everyone. When influential people and businesses take advantage for their own personal benefit, it’s a sad day indeed. In the theater of fine jewelry retailers, copying the work of new designers,(in this case, from an Etsy storefront where my online presence started) is the equivalent of taking candy from babies. Beyond the obvious wrong to the original artist, one has to wonder how the management of the brands selling in a store who gets caught feels about their business parter when this kind of thing comes to light.
As for my situation, last week I sent a letter registered mail to the owner of the store asking her to cease and desist producing and selling all jewelry made with my original castings. This includes online as well as through her brick and mortar store. Below are screenshots showing the original earring and the copy available online. Want to see more images of the original Nature Inspired Jewelry? They can be found here.
Yesterday I posted something about this on Facebook and was blown away by the response. Thank you everyone for your kind words and great ideas. I love hearing from you.