One interesting fact is that many very good companies are not famous while some with good but not excellent products are well known in the field. Marketing is the reason. For instance, the "designer" jewelry made of sterling with gold accents by "David Yurman" is pretty well known. In my opinion, it is overpriced. I don't care for this jewelry while others will prefer a "Yurman" piece above all others. Tastes vary.
Marketing affects taste, too, I suspect. Marketing is a large, large aspect in the "famous" nature of a particular manufacturer. I was in the state of Virginia the fall and happened into a Finks store.
A good 3 showcases were nothing but Yurman items. There is a minimum amount a store must display in order to be a Yurman seller. As I here it, about 3 showcases is a minimum. That is why those who can sink a lot into one line will carry the line and promote it. For instance, Saks carries the line as well as Neiman Marcus. Such large stores can essentially have a "David Yurman" sub-department! That is marketing, speaking of famous but not always the best goods.
Tiffany and Company is certainly well known. This is for good reason: Name recognition built up over years in the business. Products are of generally very good quality and much is promoted of "designer" items with a designers name used for recognition of a particular line of jewelry sold by Tiffany.
Think of the little sterling luggage tags Tiffany produced long ago and we find folks holding on to those bits of metal like it was platinum instead of silver. Of course, the tag has the famous Tiffany name stamped in. Without the name, this would be another simple silver charm.
With Tiffany, the word "quality" is inherent in the name. You see, this question is much more involved than a list of manufacturers. I will now give you some names of manufacturers who do excellent work and produce very good jewelry items.
Some are famous to "those who have heard about them" and some are not famous at all outside the jewelry trade. Pubic recognition is often altogether different from recognition within the trade. This list is very short.
Many manufacturers are out there who would be at the top of a product quality list and short on name brand recognition. Here are a few manufacturers I consider tops in what they do: Jostens. Class rings (as for school graduations, etc.) Art Carved. Wedding rings and Class rings Hearts Afire.
A recently "name branded" diamond of the "hearts and arrows" type, now expanding into jewelry. Jabel, Finished jewelry and findings(parts for jewelers to use such as solitaire mountings). This company is not well known and I believe they lag several years behind the market in design. Yet, the product is excellent. Oscar Hyman.
This company is known by high-end jewelry purchasers. The products are superb in design, technical and finishing work and in the wonderfully well matched gemstones. They make rings, bracelets, etc. with many diamonds and beautifully cut and matched colored gems of high quality. Stuller, this is a findings house now expanding into the finished jewelry field. Based in Lafayette, Louisiana, this company started small but has grown tremendously.
Stuller is not a brand name recognized by the public. However, with the retail jeweler, this company gets high marks for quality. I am not very familiar with the finished goods but expect the quality to be high. I am sure this list is disappointing to you. There are many other manufacturers who should be there but I have to go with what I have seen. The Asian influenced has much to do with what is sold today comes from foreign manufacturers.
Look at Taiwan, China and Thailand and you will see the sources for much of the goods sold by companies such as Wall Mart, J.C. Penney and many others including mall chain stores. This was not the case years ago but is the common event today. Some of the imported goods are well done and much is not. Price is the dictator here, beyond name recognition or quality.
Unfortunately, the average consumer is not educated in determining quality of jewelry and neither are many sales people who have the job to sell the product, as if selling socks or umbrellas. Is it Brand-Name recognition? Ten years into the Branding Revolution, 95 jewelers out of 100 will say that they can't sell or tell one branded diamond from another. Or, if they can, then their sales associates sure can't.(And you should hear these people talk about their employees.) "I've never once had a customer," says this store's manager, "who came through my door asking for [the nationally branded diamond he's just sold onto]. But we average two significant [brand-name designer] sales a week - and always to customers who came in asking for him.
That's branding." Curiously, this store doesn't carry Rolex or Breitling, though they have done so in the past. Some jewelry are now being manufactured featuring diamonds from the fairly recent introduction of "blue ice" or "Canadian Ice", diamonds from a strike in the Northern Territories.
I see a real future for diamonds from Canada. Marketing is underway and the appeal is good, as I see it.
Victor Epand is the owner of http://www.JewerlyGift.biz, a huge online jewelry superstore featuring the greatest selection of jewelry including personalizable items. Clearance Sale items are here: http://www.jewelrygift.biz/collection/clearance-sales.html .