Jewelry design trends are shifting away from mass-produced looks and back to designs with personal meaning. The maturity that characterizes more developed consumer markets like the United States is fueling the quest for personalization. Customization is the new sign of success and luxury. Equally, it’s well suited to our frugal economic environment as shoppers want the most meaning and value from their jewelry purchases.
Empowering consumers with custom options will remain an important marketing tactic in the coming years. Whether your business includes a bench jeweler or arrangements with manufacturers and workshops to outsource jobs, jewelers offering some form of personalization can enhance the buying experience. Even the most minor of custom services can help separate your business from the competition. How companies manage customization processes will dictate their ability to attract and retain customers and generate profit.
Many jewelry designers and manufacturers today give their retail clients the possibility to alter choice of metals and gems (type and color), stone size, and even setting style in their collections, often with quick turnaround time. This service gives jewelers greater flexibility in closing a sale by expanding customer choice to personalize an existing style they like. Determine what’s possible with your vendors, most are open to changes, within reason, to satisfy requests.
“We’ve realized the world is changing and consumers are demanding more unique, personalized jewelry designs, and we continue to educate our own customers in the many ways they can easily achieve this demand,” describes Bob Cox, vice president business development for Stuller of Lafayette, Louisiana. Among Stuller’s customization programs are CounterSketch™ Studio, a 3D jewelry design software by Gemvision that lets jewelers expand their inventory digitally with flexible designs that eliminate the overhead and limitations of live inventory; Matrix Design Software by Gemvision that lets jewelers create custom jewelry from scratch and send it directly to Stuller’s CAM Services for manufacturing; and 3C: Choose/Change/Create™ that lets jewelers develop an infinitely flexible inventory from a stock of more than 200,000 items.
Moreover, many jewelers inspire customization by carrying loose gems and semi mounts, describes Richard Greenwood for the Greenwood Group, New York. “Heirloom gems in a new remount or a different center stone for a favorite setting are among the many design directions possible to create a custom experience. Consumers are more educated and aware of what’s out there and more open to the possibilities if given options.”
Liz Chatelain, president of MVI Marketing of Paso Robles, California notes that the remount market is expected to explode in the coming years as the 18-45 year-old crowd is inheriting an enormous amount of fine jewelry from their parents, which will continue to fuel demand for re-design. Hailed a form of recycling, she says it typically does not induce guilt, and customers are more apt to spend on labor, added metal and side stones.
Another form of customization comes in adaptable pieces that switch out different design elements to create new looks. Akash Sethi, vice president marketing for Tara & Sons, New York, cites growing demand for styles that are versatile. One example is the pearl house’s 3-in-1 earrings with the option to wear a black or white South Sea pearl drop with a diamond jacket that can also be worn on its own. Styles that can be stacked and mixed and matched like bangle bracelets and gem-set bands also encourage a personal approach.
Perhaps the epitome of do-it-yourself custom design is in the centuries old tradition of charm collecting, with the current bead phenomenon its latest evolution. “The appeal of charms and beads is in the ability to create a unique piece of jewelry that expresses the wearer’s lifestyle, and the explosion of this business speaks to the strength of personalization on the market,” hails Mark Hanna, chief marketing officer for Richline, New York.
Every client is a potential custom jewelry sale—from the teen starting a classic charm bracelet to the engaged-couple designing their wedding rings to the daughter who inherited jewelry she’d like to redesign.