I must admit I am fascinated by the stunning men’s jewellery to be found at Lord Coconut. The wealth of Australian talent in jewellery design, the innovative designs, the quirky and the humorous – all add up to one exciting concept. Just as appealing to me is that Mark at Lord Coconut has understood the male psyche in establishing a store which reflects the aesthetic of the original Lord Coconut, with not a hint of pink or glitter anywhere. Mark also encourages creativity with the many exhibitions he has on offer in 2014. So whether it is to buy a special piece online or in store, or to visit the exhibitions, prepare to be astounded at this ‘Emporium of Wonder’.
When did you commence your business, Lord Coconut?
Lord Coconut the store first opened its doors on 5th April 2011 although there is a long family history in retailing going back to 1891 when Lord Coconut himself opened his first private gallery, his ‘Emporium of Wonder’.
What is the idea behind the store?
On top of the long family connection with running retail stores, Melbourne is known as one of the eminent contemporary jewellery communities in the world. Upon further research, it was established that although there were many stores within Melbourne catering for female clientele, they only held a limited range of jewellery for men. With an increased interest in the urban dandy and the rise of the steam punk aesthetic, it became clear that there was an opportunity to open a dedicated jewellery store for men. The Australian contemporary jewellery community has embraced the Lord Coconut concept with open arms to such an extent that we cannot stock all jewellers who approach us to show their work.
All our jewellery stock is handcrafted within Australia by local artisans, jewellers and designers.
What is the idea behind the fit out of the store? And where can we find you?
The store fit-out is a modern interpretation of what Lord Coconut’s Emporium of Wonder may have looked like in 1891. It became clear when researching the contemporary jewellery industry and men’s buying habits that the store would need to look inviting to men and be interesting in its own right to ensure male shoppers were comfortable entering the store and spending time looking through the range of over 400 jewellery pieces. We knew we had the right look when within the first few days of opening we had two brothers come in, one a fashion designer and the other a mechanic and hunter. They both commented how comfortable they felt in the store and each indicated different aspects of the store which they liked best that, when combined, hit the nail on the head in what we were trying to achieve visually and stock wise with the store.
We can found at Level 4, Carlow House, 289 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, 3000.
You also sell online. What sets your online store apart? Can you send items anywhere in the world?
Our online store is an important part of our business as not only do we sell online, the store acts as an online catalogue where over 80% of our customers who come into the store have looked through our range of jewellery online first.
For online purchase, we ship within Australia via Express Post for free.
We ship standard post anywhere in the world for a flat $15.
Since you’ve set up Lord Coconut, have you seen a trend in more men becoming aware of, and buying, jewellery items?
There has been a distinct change in the mix of what we sell since the store has opened. The majority of sales when we first started were cufflinks which are often seen as a safe jewellery purchase. Over time the number and variety of rings sold has increased incredibly and now outsell cufflinks.
The majority of customers who purchase a ring from our store are purchasing their first ring (often after being given a pair of our cufflinks). This change is often a result of the positive feedback they have received about the little bit of art on their shirt sleeves. It gives them confidence that purchasing a ring will now be seen as a safer option than first thought and gives them the confidence they may have been lacking earlier when it comes to choosing and wearing a ring.
Architectural ring by Kath O’Neil (image by Travis Fryer)
And what demographic do you most appeal to?
We cater for a large demographic, both straight and gay, male and female from the mid-twenties right up to the mid-sixties. It would be easier from a marketing perspective to have a more defined demographic but alas we cater to a broad spectrum of the community. Surprisingly, perhaps, we sell about 20% of our products to women for themselves as the designs are attractive to both sexes. However, men can be confident that everything in the store has been designed and created with them in mind.
Do men tend to buy jewellery for themselves, because they see it as an essential part of their outfit, or are they more likely to be given the items as a gift from partners who want to update their look?
Ring sales tend to be men purchasing for themselves, cufflink purchases are usually women purchasing them for a gift whilst our necklaces, bracelet, lapel pins and tie bars are purchased by both men and women, for themselves or as a gift.
What items do men tend to buy more of – your best sellers for example?
The anatomical range of cufflinks by Beth Croce (hearts, teeth, lungs, livers etc) are a consistent seller along with the re-purposed watch movement cufflinks by Janty Fry.
When it comes to wedding rings, the Boston ring by Ali Alexander is always in the top two. This ring has a level of tactileness to it that is reminiscent of your grandfathers’ wedding ring. It’s designed to look a bit bruised and battered with a finish that requires it to be touched.
The other popular wedding ring is the Flange ring by David Parker. This ring is made with an external band of titanium with an inner sleeve of gold. It’s a perfect mix of the modernity of titanium and the tradition of gold may be one of the most technically proficient jewelers in Melbourne.
Swallow cufflinks by Metal Couture (image by Travis Fryer)
You have some really quirky items for sale – for example tooth cufflinks, and brain cufflinks. Do guys tend to go for the quirky to add a bit of a twist, rather than plainer timeless designs?
When it comes to weddings, men tend to purchase the plainer timeless designs whilst away from their wedding, guys tend to go a little bit more quirky such as the Ship ring by Metal Couture. It always amazes me that you can never tell which guy will go for which piece of jewellery. Looks will always be deceiving.
What other items do you stock (other than men’s jewellery items)?
We also stock an amazing range of masculine jewellery boxes by Innocente which are made out of Huon Pine and powder coated steel. A perfect place to store any man’s growing collection of jewellery.
Due to the look and feel of the store, we also sell a great selection of natural history inspired contemporary art along with the majority of decorative items used throughout the store.
With Love wedding rings by Ginkoh Jewellery (image by Travis Fryer)
Can you give us some gift suggestions for the groom and/or fathers of the wedding party?
Apart from the obvious choice of cufflinks, tie bars are making a big comeback and the deco range of sterling silver tie slides by Kath O’Neill at $99 each make an ideal gift.
We are also starting to sell more of our nickel or brass money clips by Ginkoh Jewellery. These make an ideal gift and the groomsmen can carry some cash in their jacket pockets with a wallet ruining the fall of the suit.
What items of jewellery would you suggest that men purchase for their wedding outfit, to look sharp and co-ordinated?
To look extra sharp on the wedding day a set of cufflinks and a tie bar, sitting high on the chest as the Europeans do, are the must haves. To take your look to the next level, a signet ring on the right pinky finger will make you look a million dollars. As for the co-ordinated concept, the fashion is to mix and match a lot more so it does not look so staged.
You regularly hold exhibitions. Can you describe what you have in store for 2014?
We run a number of jewellery and jewellery inspired exhibitions throughout the year. These include:
– DEAR FATHER – is based upon the concept that Lord Coconut has gone off travelling the world circa 1900. At each country visited, he sent home to his father a small gift and a postcard. Participating jewellers and artisans will be given a blank postcard of that era and are required to write home to Lord Coconut’s father and include a small gift which they have made which represents the country visited.
– BINARY – a celebration of all things computers (main frames, desk tops, laptops, smart phones, tablets and the like, even the odd gaming console thrown in) with this exhibition of works created by local jewellers, designers and artisans.
– ART OF THE CUFF – a collection of French cuffs which have been painted on, modified, deconstructed, sculpted and embroidered on by a selection of over 50 local artists, jewelers and designers.
– THE MELBOURNE CUFFLINK – The 2nd annual Melbourne Cufflink exhibition and acquisitive student prize to the value of $500 whereby local jewellery students from RMIT, Box Hill Institute and NMIT are encouraged to produce and enter a pair of cufflinks into the exhibition.
Cicada cufflinks by Katzinka Tschierschky (image by Travis Fryer)
In your downtime, what do you like to do that is ‘so Melbourne’?
Not sure if it is ‘so Melbourne’ but the fact that I can walk to my preferred cinema it’s got to be movies, movies and more movies. They’ve gotta be art house, you’ve got to see them at The Kino or as part of the Melbourne International Film Festival and they’ve got to make you feel something. Good, bad or ugly, a worthwhile movie has to leave you feeling something when you walk out towards the light at the end of the film.
Thank you Mark for telling us about Lord Coconut. Isn’t the jewellery stunning? To find out more about Lord Coconut please visit the website.
All the pieces shown above are available from Lord Coconut.
Headshot by Travis Fryer.