Looking ahead to 2024, there’s a lot for jewelers to consider. What will change, what’s important for merchants to know, and what can we lose in the new year (beyond those elusive 10 pounds)? Inspiration and craftsmanship are the soul of most jewelry businesses, but business insights certainly don’t hurt. To wit, manufacturers for some of the world’s biggest merchants weigh in on what’s on their minds for next year. Topics include trends, cutting-edge tech tools clients should know and possibly utilize, and the ongoing importance of offering perfectly personalized gifts—or at least plenty of options for self-purchasers to adequately express themselves. Enjoy a robust new year of sales!
A new year calls for a fresh trend forecast, and there are a lot of predictions surfacing in major manufacturers’ crystal balls. From color trends to design directions, makers have a lot of ideas for you to unpack and ponder for 2024 sales.
First, consider metal trends—yellow gold is soaring back into style. Whether jewels be karat gold or gold-over-silver, the rich natural hue of gold is a total vibe among shoppers. In vermeil, value seekers can get a “large fashion piece with a diamond accent at an affordable price,” notes Jennifer Dressing, executive vice president of product development and merchandising for KP Sanghvi. The diamond jewelry maker has a slew of new offerings featuring florals, pyramid motifs, and plenty of bangles.
Others also see the yellow gold movement. Surbhi Jain, marketing director, Shefi Diamonds, calls its emergence “a cyclical pattern that occurs every few years.”
Valerie Fletcher, vice president of design and product development at ODI/Original Designs, maintains that her buyers want gold in its most natural hue—“rich, radiant, and yellow.” Theresa Namie, merchandise manager, Ostbye, agrees. “Yellow gold will continue to be strong as well as two-tone looks.”
On the flip side, Fletcher also sees platinum as being desired. “It’s naturally white and doesn’t require plating,” she adds about the rarest precious metal.
In gemstone colors, any shade of blue still moves, while others are predicting vibrant shades of green, teal, orange, and purple based on fall 2023 runway couture shows.
“In gemstones, we foresee emerald will be a standout as well as amethyst, aquamarine, and citrine in all shades,” says Namie. “We anticipate having new color designs by June 2024.”
Lali Jewels execs, meanwhile, are banking on pastel shades. “Yellow metal and pastel gems complement each other,” says Perilynn Glasner, marketing and design director. “We feel that aquamarine, morganite, green amethyst, and ametrine will be popular.”
In the wedding jewelry category, high-end classic styles and quasi-custom numbers should continue moving. Shefi Diamonds views its elevated classics, including center stone size-enhancing halos, as the “perfect blend of classic and contemporary,” according to Jain.
Ostbye’s Namie is unveiling new bridal styles executed to the exact specifications of her merchants. “Retailers have been asking for classic bridal and expanded designs in our wraps and inserts so brides can make a unique set without having to go custom,” she says.
And Imperial Pearl recently unveiled a wedding-inspired campaign that positions its fave gem as the ideal gift for brides and bridesmaids.
The “She said yes, now celebrate with pearls” campaign features two curated collections and “stunning displays,” says Kathy Grenier, vice president of business development.
“We’re encouraging retailers to merchandise the collections close to their engagement and wedding rings. We’ll build on this in 2024 with more limited collections and targeted social advertising.”
And though the lab-grown diamond (LGD) industry has been volatile, manufacturers still see a special place for the product: in fashion. Shah Luxury principal Neil Shah talks about high-profile jewelers who’ve bedazzled Air Jordans in diamonds as a perfect place for LGDs to shine.
“Whether in shoes or other accessories, there are all kinds of ways for lab-growns to collaborate with other parts of culture,” he says. “I think fashion will be big with lab-growns. I’ve not seen it yet, but over the next year or two, we could see it. Culture is trending toward more self-expression. The point of jewelry is self-expression, and that’s now happening with street wear and sneakers. Jewelry needs to be reconnected to that market.”
High Tech Tools
Technology is a jeweler’s secret weapon for making incredible designs for consumers to covet. While most shoppers will never know about the amount of research and development and training needed to execute the most complicated designs, some important manufacturers are relying on technological advances that should be on your radar.
For starters, in the realm of production, some large outfits lean on direct resin casting (DRC) to produce custom jobs quickly and at a lower cost.
“Here we skip the model-making process and take the design from CAD straight to casting,” says Valerie Fletcher, vice president of design and product development at ODI/Original Designs. “Another benefit is that you can do much more intricate and complex designs, which would be difficult or impossible to do using a traditional mold and achieve more detailed surface finishes. DRC has revolutionized our bracelet business, because we can print a whole bracelet, already linked. This eliminates assembly and soldering, keeping the finish impeccable.”
More magic happens by way of custom numerical control or CNC machines that cut metal tubes or plates into any form. Among them: machined bands, name necklaces, designs with negative space, and intricate patterns.
“Since there is no casting involved, finishes are sharp, clean, and virtually porosity free,” adds Fletcher.
Shah Luxury built a platform of tools for customization, including 3D visualization, 360-degree views, virtual try-on capabilities, hologram visualization features, and a “phygital” (blending digital experiences with physical ones) ring builder experience.
“We did that because we wanted to engage consumers and eliminate the fear in the customization process,” says company principal Neil Shah.
Another new project? An AI design studio. “It’s getting a strong response,” he adds. “It inspires ideas.”
For Richline Group, 3D printing eliminates “two or three different production steps,” says Moss Makhoulian, senior vice president. “[3D printing] is great for sculpted or carved items or intricate pieces with fine details.”
Theresa Namie, merchandise manager, Ostbye, relies on The Edge software to provide relevant product information to her retailers. Another huge benefit of using The Edge? Knowing exactly what’s selling through. “We have linked with The Edge to provide our customers that use their program an advantage to their inventory control,” she says.
Custom wholesale websites, too, created for retailers to quickly order collections, are top of mind at The Kingswood Company, maker of the Clean + Care line of jewelry cleaners and accessories.
ccording to Heather Brown, vice president of content and editorial, consumer demand for jewelry care and cleaning kits is growing—a fact that prompted the jewelry care kit maker to make an easy-to-navigate experience for merchants to obtain new offerings or best sellers. Through user-friendly site navigation and the brand’s own beautiful aesthetic, the website “differentiates Clean + Care from other jewelry care brands,” she says.
Finally, sometimes an innovative setting is the only technological innovation that matters, especially for beautiful jewelry. Consider the SkySet collection of diamond jewelry from IDD Luxe, which has a proprietary floating effect that offers unobstructed diamond views and up to 70% more visible surface area.
“The technological advancements in this collection invite more light to flow through the diamonds,” explains Julian Purifoy, marketing manager. “The SkySetting eliminates the need for prongs and allows for a larger diamond surface area with openings on the sides and bottom of the stone.”
Jewelry speaks volumes without saying a word, which is why it’s considered a highly personal gift to give. Not knowing a recipient’s interests or taste can backfire in a big way on well-intentioned givers; gift or not, nobody want to feel obligated to wear a piece that doesn’t reflect his or her personal style.
Thankfully, jewelry experts have some tips to avoid gifting mishaps. Start by pondering everything you know about the recipient before you set foot in a store. It sounds elementary—and it is—but too few gift givers truly consider the recipient before making a purchase.
Knowing a person’s birthday is a good first step. Knowledge of this paves the way for one of a jeweler’s most popular categories—birthstone jewelry. Merchants typically load up on these styles because they’re a strong seller, a point that both Ostbye and ODI/Original Designs know well.
“The birthstone collections can easily stack together so you can make a unique stackable ring that tells the story of those you love,” says Valerie Fletcher, vice president of design and product development at ODI/Original Designs.
Depending on the quality of stones used as well as the manufacturing process, birthstone jewels appeal equally to entry-level and high-end shoppers and every character on earth. “Our birthstone collection can fit any personality,” confirms Theresa Namie, merchandise manager, Ostbye.
Next in popularity are jewels with symbolism, messages, or engravable elements. Think signet rings, bracelets with engravable bars, medallions with religious icons, or beloved motifs like a person’s favorite flower. Charms fall into this arena as well, given they’re accessible and easy to add to year after year.
At Ostbye, Namie sees initials, animals, and starbursts as best sellers as well as diamond-accented message jewels from its Diamond Diva collection in sterling silver.
The Richline Group has a deep inventory of Hispanic-inspired jewels and charms for its big-box merchants, while Shah Luxury has built up an inventory in engravable offerings and has a wide capacity to accommodate total custom jobs.
Shah Luxury principal, Neil Shah, says that customers love to put their own ideas into finished jewelry forms. A case in point: the client who put the design of the back half of his Lamborghini on the shoulder of a ring. Others featured deceased pets on pendants, meaningful mountain ranges, and even the silhouette of a Stradivarius viola on an engagement ring.
“Consumers love making their mark in a design and picking elements that are significant to them,” he says.
At ODI/Original Designs, there are many ways to make jewels extra special and unique to recipients or wearers. Clients can laser engrave super-personalized looks like thumbprints or words and messages. Custom CAD designs are another option, as are styles from sentimental jewelry collections like its “I Love You to the Moon & Back.”
“It’s a universal expression of love that can be used in a variety of relationships, from romantic to familial to platonic,” says Fletcher. “Its versatility makes it a popular choice for gift giving.”
Its Enhanceables collection is another clever offering, featuring 3-in-1 pendants that can be shared between two people and worn three different ways on one person.
Finally, custom nameplates cut by custom numerical control, or CNC, machines can spell out a moniker or even an entire signature. Creating school sports jewelry, logos, or even beloved charitable references are another easy way to let wearers know that you know what they like.
“I wouldn’t say personalization is as important as self-expression,” says Fletcher. “But making a statement with symbols, colors, and textures is more prominent now.”