If you’re not promoting pearls in your retail business, you’re missing out on a product that appeals to self-purchasing Millennials and middle-aged women alike; comes in a variety of types, colors, shapes, sizes, and price points; and is considered the hottest fashion trend, perfect bridal jewel, and can’t-go-wrong gift.
“Luxury fashion brands have been the leader in positioning pearls among Millennials, contributed to youth and Millennials no longer equating pearls to older people (not your grandma’s),” says Cora-Lee Colaizzi, director of marketing and catalogs and senior merchandiser, Quality Gold, Fairfield, Ohio.
Not only are pearls on runways for top fashion brands like Chanel, Oscar de la Renta, Prabal Gurung, and Stella McCartney, celebrities, royalty, socialites, influencers, and bloggers are accessorizing in pearls. Because Millennials are especially in tune with pop-culture and constantly connected with social media, they see their favorite figures adorned in pearls, underscores Dana Cali, Marketing and Communications for Mastoloni Pearls, New York.
For 2019, Cali sees simplicity and nature among the prevailing design themes in pearl jewelry, classic or couture. “Simple statement pieces with organic and geometric influences are trending,” she cites. “Nothing too busy or impractical, traditional or classic designs are updated with a more modern twist in pieces that are more everyday as opposed to special occasion.”
Hoop earrings are important in all sizes and styles, as are simple, delicate princess-length chain necklaces; bar necklaces with single pearl drops; pearl tassel earrings and necklaces; designs with unique pearl shape and color combinations; open-style pearl rings; and geometric cage pendants. Moreover, luminescent mother-of-pearl and high-polished sterling silver designs are popular, reports Wendy Fox, Senior Director of Sales-Independent Division, The Richline Group, New York City, for the pearl brand Honora.
Trends identified in 2018 by The Knot, mega online wedding networking hub, reveal that brides are not only wearing pearl jewelry, but also working pearls through their hair and favoring dresses with pearls sewn onto the fabric.
Kathy Grenier, Vice President of Business Development for the Providence, Rhode Island based Imperial Pearl attributes recent royal weddings where gems and pearls were adornments-of-choice, as inspiring trends for Akoya pearls with emeralds, rubies and sapphires set in yellow gold. With the popularity of rose gold in wedding rings, Imperial’s latest line couples Akoya or pink freshwater pearls with morganite set in this metal.
Brides favor classic pearl styles, particularly stud earrings and strands that can be worn long past the wedding day, she says. Studs are especially popular with add-ons like jackets and drops that can easily change a look. Earrings are No. 1, sees Cali, simple designs, nothing too over the top, with front-back convertible styles preferred — classic styles with a contemporary twist!
Grenier underscores that pearls remain the ideal gift for so many occasions, celebrating friendships, milestones and successes — from important anniversaries and birthdays to a graduation, new job or promotion. Even Vogue just told its readers to “Forget Diamonds” explaining “Why Pearls Are the Perfect Gift for Valentine’s Day!”
Box sets make it easy for gift givers to delight gift recipients, says Fox. The pearl brand is introducing freshwater pearl stud earrings and pendant necklace sets in silver. Grenier also cites greater demand for pearls for girls, noting Imperial’s Pearl-by-Pearl is launching two to three suites of pearl jewelry in the collection. The item is popular as a gift for new moms to build a necklace for their daughters.
Cali considers freshwater pearls perfect for gift giving because of the variety of colors and shapes, luster, iridescence, and price! “Styles range from simple button studs and floating pendants to 54- and 100-inch endless style ropes in an array of color and shape combinations,” she says. “You can wear them so many ways. It’s a lot of look for a reasonable cost.” Freshwater pearls have become go-to gifts for the bridal party, as you can even match dress color.
Customers expect jewelers to carry a selection of pearl items, core and fashion styles within their collections, says Colaizzi. She encourages jewelers to merchandise their cases with cost competitive merchandise that is perfect for accessorizing bridal parties, to wear for business and casual, and to gift.
Cali advocates jewelers include pearls in their bridal displays and merchandise in such a way that customers can visualize all the different ways pearls can be incorporated into the celebration. “It’s a great way to secure add-on sales for the bridal party, mother-of-the-bride, rehearsal dinner, and wedding day,” she says.
“We try to infuse a little bit of something for everyone into our collections,” describes Fox. “We always like to include a modern twist to a classic, trend areas in both silver and gold, and revisit our design archive to bring back some vintage-inspired looks. This season we were inspired to bring back a take on a Honora classic from the 1990s called “Palline”. We’ve taken some of the silhouettes, the iconic beading, and reinvented the look in two-tone silver and gold.”
Engage with customers, run promotions, contests and giveaways, Cali cheers. “It’s important to take advantage of stories on Instagram and Facebook, in addition to scheduled posts,” she says. “Stories increase your visibility and are a great way to boost engagement, specifically with the poll, question/answer, and emoji slider features.” She also suggests think beyond single product shots on white backgrounds to show customers how to style pearls.
Cali notes that retailers consistently sell more pearls during pearl-focused events than full-store. “The most successful events are those with unique, compelling and interactive themes,” she says. “You know your customers and their interests better than anyone; play to those interests and engage them.”
Some suggestions: “If you’re in a more conservative, classic area, opt for a Chanel, Jackie O or royal family theme. If your customer base is into the trends of a younger age or located in a more fast-paced area, grab their attention with a fun, interactive theme such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s, mermaid/underwater or couture/fashion week.”