Expensive Cheap Jewelery

Lanciani Travel Jewelry offers a line of “the most exquisite jewelry offered in the market today for the woman who travels and prefers to keep her precious jewelry safe at home.” In other words, it’s fake stuff, so you can look nice without breaking the bank.

Except that it’s expensive fake stuff: “The collection includes earrings, necklaces, pins, bracelets and rings priced from $65 to $2000.” I realize that I’m not quite in the target demographic here, but still, $2000 is a lot to drop if the earring drops off. That’s more than many people spend on their good jewelry.

There is much to love here, in an astonished Veblenian postmodernist kind of way. This is costume jewelry, to be sure, but how do you convince people rich enough to afford real jewelry that they should buy the tricked-out sterling silver with cubic zirconia? By reminding them that it’s not “costume jewelry,” it’s “travel jewelry.” And by insisting that this stuff is only for the woman who already has “precious jewelry” safe at home.

Yes, that’s right—this is jewelry that lets you have the combined satisfaction of wearing jewelry and owning expensive jewelry, without actually having to, you know, wear the good stuff. The price tags, then, are an inducement to buy. The people this stuff is intented for wouldn’t be as interested if the price were lower. You have to keep away the strivers who’d wear “travel jewelry” without owning the heavy gems to back it up.

One more twist: Lanciani holds a trademark on TRAVEL JEWELRY. (That’s serial number 76077829 and registration number 2577430 for the trademark hounds out there.) I would note that JEWELRY standing alone is clearly generic for jewelry and jewelry-related services. The addition of TRAVEL makes it descriptive—but showing secondary meaning seems like an uphill battle. The most interesting possibility is that Lanciani, if push came to shove, would claim that TRAVEL JEWELRY is merely suggestive. That is, TRAVEL isn’t meant to be taken literally, this is not jewelry for travelling, this is just jewelry that has the connotations of travelling (fear of losing something valuable, glamorous jetsetters, easily portable, something you don’t keep at home).

A quick set of web searches on “travel jewelry” reveals two interesting things. First, there appears to be exactly one significant competitor also using the phrase “travel jewelry” to describe its jewelry. I wonder whether there is some trademark licensing going on. Second, Lanciani itself could do better getting searchjuice for its marks. You pretty much need to search on “Lanciani”—even logically related searches like “Lanciani and jewelry” don’t bring up their page at all.

And third, MSN Search has a long way to go in resisting SEO tactics.