The Future is Fine in Fashion

The rise of self-purchasing women is influencing key product categories for 2019, notably color stones, pearls and diamond fashion jewelry. JCK’s State of the Industry 2018 says female self-purchasers are changing ideas about who should buy jewelry and for what reasons, and growing the business while doing so.

Sixty-five percent of jewelers polled by JCK had seen either considerable or somewhat more female self-purchasers, with 71 percent of these consumers spending more than $500 on their purchases. In fact, the average price point for a female self-purchaser is $1,200.

Bruce Cleaver, CEO, De Beers Group advocates jewelers offer a selection of diamond jewelry that appeals to women looking to celebrate a personal milestone or self-reward. This should become as much a focus for jewelers, he advises, as bridal and other milestone-related jewelry.

Brands are seizing the opportunity to empower self-purchasing women. Original Designs’ latest campaign, “I am a Woman”, compares the qualities of a woman to that of a diamond—beauty, strength, brilliance. Clever taglines make the connection like “Beautiful in all shapes, sizes and colors”, “You can’t break me”, and “I thrive under pressure”. The campaign celebrates the journeys we go through that like a diamond make us unique, says Valerie Fletcher, vice president of design and product development for the NYC-based manufacturer.

Fine jewelry brands are evolving faster and creating new diamond fashion collections to appeal to a younger consumer, cites Paola De Luca, founder and creative director for the Italian luxury marketing firm, The Futurist, publisher of TrendVision. “They’re more attuned to addressing trends like the stacking of rings or dressing up the ears with14K gold and diamonds at accessible prices.”

Diamond jewelry has been the most popular type of jewelry in the U.S. market with a more than 45 percent share in 2018, exceeding gold jewelry at nearly 35 percent, finds TrendVision. De Beers’ research shows an increase in the percentage of people buying diamonds just because they love a design.

And, the diamond designs women are buying are vintage-inspired, especially Art Deco; interesting and unusual, like mixed diamond shapes and sizes in dangle earrings; and classics with a twist, describes Allison Peck for the NYC-based jewelry manufacturer Color Merchants, citing its flex-eternity and spiral diamond bands, and Dashing Diamonds on gold hoops and bead chain.

Expect to see lab-grown diamonds continue to rise in popularity in fine fashion jewelry, especially since De Beers jumped into the category with its own brand, filling a void it said for fun, pretty lab grown diamond fashion jewelry that doesn’t cost a lot.

According to JCK’s State of the Industry 2018 report, lab-grown diamonds are up for one in five jewelers that sell them, and among the top three popular products for 36 percent. In fact, 62 percent of those selling lab-grown diamonds report a sales’ increase from 2017 to 2018, and 78 percent expect that to grow in 2019.

Color & Pearls

Research by the Los Angeles-based MVI Marketing finds that women who buy fine jewelry, particularly younger women want more variety in color and fashion styles represented in jewelry stores. “They say they’re interested in more color to go with their outfits, with at least one quarter expecting to buy fine jewelry set with a gemstone or pearl at least once in this year,” says CEO Martin Hurwitz.

Peck sees color, specifically semi-precious as a leading product category (think topaz, amethyst, citrine and garnet). Also, fancy cuts and different settings add a modern twist to classic designs, like gemstone rings with elongated ovals and marquises set east-to-west.

Like color stones, the variety in type, shape and color of pearls continues to inspire more companies to create finished jewelry with cultured pearls. In fact, JCK’s State of the Industry Report finds pearls in modern jewelry designs among the top three trends for 21 percent of jewelers and gem beads for 12 percent.
To describe the kinds of pearl jewelry trending today, Kathy Grenier, vice president of business development, Imperial Pearl, Providence, Rhode Island, uses adjectives like modern, beautiful, and wearable. She cites shape and color as top draws, noting examples like baroque and keshi, and a greater emphasis on Tahitian pearls, and pearls mixed with other gemstones.

Men’s Jewelry

Men’s jewelry is another key category with growth opportunities for both women buying for men and men buying for themselves. Alisa Bunger, director of Sales, B88 Division for the Dallas-based Prime Art & Jewel says popular designs appeal to features that men are looking for, while also appealing to female gift givers.

Cultural norms are blurring the line separating gender roles, as reflected in the jewelry sector with men today exploring new consumer realities, reports TrendVision. “Images of a hyper-masculine man in business clothing not wearing any jewelry are fading away,” says De Luca. “Men have become more image-conscious, especially Millennials.” She cites a survey by Noise/The Intelligence Group, a youth focused marketing agency in New York that finds 34 percent of men polled willing to pay premium prices for luxury accessories.

A Sept. 11, 2018 article in The New York Times, “The New Appeal of Men’s Jewelry”, attributes Instagram and Snapchat as fueling men’s growing interest in style. Guys do selfies showing off what they’re wearing. Millennials are driving men’s jewelry sales in the U.S., generating half of the growth, followed by Gen Z and X, finds the market research firm NPD Group.

Scott Rauch, president of SHR Jewelry Group, New York, manufacturer of men’s jewelry, including the Esquire brand, says men have taken to the stacking trend when it comes to bracelets, mixing metals and materials like leather and beads.

The trend among Millennials to personalize is inspiring tremendous interest in signet rings for men (and women, too), says Cynthia Speight, marketing manager for IB Goodman, Newport, Kentucky.

Alisa Bunger, director of sales for the B88 Division of the Dallas-based Prime Art & Jewel identifies silver as a preferred metal for men, because it pairs well with leather, gold, and gem inlay for accessories that are easy to wear.

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