Even my boy Johnny Dang is hurtin'
"The look is still big, it is still bling, but people are going with smaller diamonds and lower-karat gold," trading down from 18- and 14-karat alloys to 12k, which is only 50% gold, or less, says Mr. Dang. A Vietnamese immigrant, he started out at flea markets and now has a shop in the tony Galleria mall next to Neiman Marcus. To survive, Mr. Dang is relying more often on machine-made versions of his jewelry that can cut the cost of a $10,000 handcrafted pendant in half. Mr. Dang's "grillz" sales also have fallen off 60% in the recession.