While September is the official kick-off to pumpkin spice season, it’s also when the fashion world revs up. After a sleepy summer, four different major fashion weeks—New York City, London, Paris, and Milan—take place from September to October, giving fashionistas a cheat sheet for what they can expect to wear come spring.
The jewelry world is watching, too, banking on high-design derivatives, trending colors and silhouettes, and front-row patrons in their own sartorial splendor to lure in style-hungry shoppers. Keep reading to see what’s on point for new men’s designs (hint: plenty!), how jewelers can curate fashion show content with their own in-store complementary jewels, and how to serve up glorious entry-level style to shoppers on a budget.
You’ve Got Male
The men’s jewelry trend shows no signs of stopping. From brooches on the red carpet—we’re thinking of you, Michael B. Jordan, in your Tiffany & Co. at this year’s Oscars—to Timothée Chalamet, the latest devotee of pearls, men’s collections continue to mushroom at every major trade show, and with good reason.
The demand is there, and research from “The Plumb Club Industry and Market Insights 2023” backs it up. “The increasing acceptance of jewelry among men is propelling the growth of the market,” states the report.
Prime Art & Jewel
The rise in those identifying as gender fluid plays a role, too, as gender-neutral jewelry—often not overtly feminine—appeals to many and is inspiring many a new look.
“Men’s jewelry is undergoing a surge in popularity, with men using jewelry as a tool to reflect their individuality and style,” says Prime Art & Jewel’sSusie Wilty, director of sales.
“For ages, men relied only on watches to achieve personal style, but now, with the influence of male style icons who have paved the way in expressing themselves via jewelry, the men’s jewelry trend is having a moment,” confirms Fran Mastoloni, a principal at Mastoloni Pearls, which debuted its first men’s line at the 2023 JCK Las Vegas show.
The collection features bracelets and necklaces in brushed sterling silver and 14k yellow gold mixed with leather and, not surprisingly, a pearl—a Tahitian. The response from retailers and press? “Very positive,” he notes.
If clients appear bewildered by such fresh style, start the sales presentation with traditional items—dog tags and signet rings. According to Valerie Fletcher, vice president of design and product development atODI, they’re unfussy. In the arena of the more meaningful, try a religious pendant.
“Silver or alternative metals are another good place to start for the customer who is hesitant to invest a lot of money or afraid they will damage their jewelry due to work or lifestyle,” she adds.
Wilty, too, is offering a bit of tradition in brushed and polished gunmetal colors for bracelets and necklaces. She’s also seeing high demand for “high-quality chains in different designs,” she explains.
One super cool style that hasn’t yet gone mainstream—but should—is a thin black diamond tennis necklace, worn alone or layered with companion styles, maintains Fletcher.
“It can be a little bit rock or goth, but still minimal, understated, and tailored,” she says. “It’s the little black dress of men’s jewelry.”
Other popular styles are pieces with textured, matte, or satin finishes with clean lines in yellow gold. “Elongated pendants, black diamonds, and carved/floral designs are doing well,” she confirms.
At Prime Art & Jewel, dark colors are also trending in gunmetal plating on sterling silver and black sapphires, a stark contrast to offerings from long ago.
“Years ago, men’s jewelry was all about gold chains and pinky rings, and the landscape has changed so much since then!” she laughs, clearly with a Sopranos-type caricature in mind.
But just because many men’s styles are on the bulkier side doesn’t mean there’s not an alternative.Shah Luxury’s Puja Malpani insists that the men’s category is going through a transition. They want more personalization, better materials and designs, and even full custom.
“Retail stores who can accommodate these buyers will control a piece of the industry that is in a current power vacuum,” she says. “Style for men’s jewelry is shifting away from larger ‘manly’ designs.
Fashion trendsetters are wearing more traditionally feminine designs. We will see smaller chained diamond bracelets, pearls, and smaller-faced watches enter rural areas—as they have already begun in larger markets. We are seeing trendsetters wearing single large diamond pendants, much like you may have sold their wife last year.”
Welcome this new style wave and encourage women to gift their guys something other than a watch. You might be pleasantly surprised, as so many merchants are realizing.
“The magic happens in the scale and comprehensive ability to change and customize,” adds Malpani.
Runway to Reality
When the calendar turns to September, the fashion world is giddy with excitement, but are jewelers? You should be. That’s because while the former finalizes last-minute runway presentations, the latter should get pen and paper ready to note the new couture debuting at fashion shows worldwide. Runway presentations dictate the next season’s necklines, silhouettes, and colors, all important takeaways for jewelers who’ll be accessorizing the new frocks.
“People always read magazines and surf social media for fashion trends, usually highlighted around September and February,” confirms Kendra Bridelle, president of IDD Luxe. “Jewelry is an accessory to be paired with those fashion trends.”
To wit, her brand’s Rising Star earrings are the fun, flirty, and feminine touch to pair with fall business suits or “additional movement to the liquid dress trend,” she adds.
For sure, jewelry frames fashion, according to Shah Luxury’sPuja Malpani. “Jewelers have to understand that our product tends to be the bookends, in that the fashion trends will dictate what style of jewelry will match, and therefore sell,” she explains.
Shah Luxury’s karat-gold and diamond designs speak to many looks and trends, thereby serving as ideal accessories for trickle-down design influences. However, her brand believes that what’s even more important is building a community that comes together to share regional trends. “We can track things on large scales, but having conversations from store to store and community to community will help narrow down more precisely what jewelry types will work in what markets, as they are all different,” she explains. “Be open to what our next consumers consider jewelry. Ideas, as in fashion, will get more intricate, more personalized, more ‘out there,’ and jewelers must be ready to accommodate them in the same way the fashion industry has adjusted.”
And while manufacturers might stress over the short production cycles from genesis of idea to garments on the rack, jewelry retailers can easily capitalize on new looks by curating selections of relevant jewels already in store.
“At the retail level, [fashion week is] a great way to showcase pieces that you already have throughout the store,” points out Valerie Fletcher, vice president of design and product development at ODI.
Instruct salespeople to identify runway trends, followed by curation work in cases. “Create mini collections featuring inspiration photos from the runway with complementary jewelry pieces,” she suggests.
Of course, not every runway look is a fit. “The clothes and jewelry you see on the runway don’t always translate to your customer base, so it’s best to highlight trends that are simple and wearable,” adds Fletcher.
A case in point: super-low, belly-revealing waistlines. Kim Kardashian may be owning that trend as well as a diamond-studded belly chain, but most women will not dig that look. Instead, focus on a more flattering and audience-appropriate trend—like Barbie pink!
While the color is specific to the film, Viva Magenta was crowned the 2023 Pantone Color of the year way back last December, giving a year full of creative license to anyone wanting to adopt any hue from Pantone’s set colorful path.
Merchandising is super important to drive home fashion week trends. Malpani urges merchants to aggressively merchandise, and don’t forget to deliver everything as a memorable feast for the eyes. “Fashion weeks are about experience creation, and our industry will have to do the same to keep up.”
Price Point Pretties
Research shows that the average price per unit sold in jewelry stores is less than $1,500—a price with appeal to emerging jewelry collectors like Gen Z. Analysis of “The Plumb Club Industry and Market Insights 2023” report confirms that jewelry interest from that generation and Millennials “are advancing to increasingly relevant consumers with high demands, increasing disposable income, and new perceptions of jewelry as a status symbol.” What this means for jewelers is clear: have plenty of entry-level-price jewelry options on hand.
Plumb Club Members agree that a good place to start building a jewelry wardrobe is with basics—studs, hoops, pendant necklaces, and personalized and stacking styles. Stacking and layering these staples paves the way for stylish clients and multiple sales.
For starter collections, Theresa Namie, merchandise manager at Ostbye, likes hoops and studs—“These can have style, they don’t have to be plain,” she says—among other items. “Three pendants can be layered together or worn separately, and stackable rings and a flexible bracelet tie it all together,” she adds.
Valerie Fletcher, vice president of design and product development at ODI, agrees.
“Sometimes you need stacks of bangles, and sometimes you need a simple gold hoop,” she says, advising shoppers to spend the most on everyday classics, less on trendy styles. “Splurge on distinctive pieces that have a special meaning or story and are uniquely you,” she suggests. “Over time, you build a collection of meaningful and versatile jewelry.”
Ostbye has birthstone options under $1,500 retail, but it also has anniversary bands and fashion-forward numbers. “We try to feature the price points in our holiday flyer for an easy, successful holiday season,” says Namie.
One item that customers should look for once that flyer goes to press: the brand’s Double Row earrings in two-tone 10k gold with diamonds. “They give the illusion of wearing two earrings,” she explains.
At Brevani, many entry-level-price jewels are made in 14k gold with colored gemstones, like birthstones, but the designs are anything but old-fashioned.
“We’re finding that the next generation wants something new and exciting,” says Allison Peck, director of operations. “They don’t want what their mothers or grandmothers wore, they want something different.”
Within her line, that can mean open-style Toi et Moi rings with garnet, opal, topaz, or peridot and a diamond accent.
In IDD Luxe’sSkySet collection, shoppers can nab lab-grown diamond designs in 14k gold for less than $1,500. For sure, the firm aims to offer big looks to Gen Z customers at affordable price points.
“Younger generations just don’t care as much as Baby Boomers and Gen Xers that the diamonds weren’t grown in the earth but in a lab,” observes Kendra Bridelle, president.
With all these great price-point options, don’t forget to drive home the training retailers need to shop these styles to entry-level buyers. Bridelle’s biggest tip? “Always show how to layer!” she insists.
“We train retailers how to accessorize their clients,” she continues. “Never stop at one sale. We also teach them that if they don’t offer specific categories, they will lose the next-generation customer.”
Ostbye also works hard to help its merchants. “Social media is the easiest way to reach this generation, and we’re constantly working to create good content,” she says.
Experiences in store can’t hurt, either—particularly ones that motivate shoppers to explore what speaks to them. To wit, encourage clients to choose pieces that resonate with their personal style—that make them feel “confident, unique, stylish, and fun,” adds Fletcher. The theme, after all, is you. “How do you want your jewelry to make you feel?” queries Fletcher.