The Silver Bullet

Silver is one of the brightest stars of the jewelry world today, offering an almost limitless array of styles, designs and price points. According to recent polling by the Silver Promotion Service (SPS), marketing arm of the Silver Institute, 46% of sales are female self-purchase, 34% gift giving.

The versatility of silver is part of what makes it so popular. Silver’s unique blend of characteristics make it the perfect metal for creating quality jewelry that is both timely and timeless.

“Silver provides designers with a limitless canvas to compose works of jewelry art,” tells Gloria Maccaroni, director of brand development for the SPS. “Manufacturers appreciate the ease in which silver can be worked, leveraging its malleability and ductility to turn the designer’s dreams into reality. Fine jewelers have welcomed silver with open arms, and as the availability of new styles, brands, qualities and prices have risen, consumers enjoy a range of options.”

With looks ranging from bold to delicate, blazingly bright to softly textured, silver jewelry offers enormous possibilities, touts Maccaroni. “No other precious metal can compare to the combination of affordability and beauty found in silver.”

Key Trends

For 2017, Maccaroni cites earrings a focus in the category, particularly new takes on hoop styles. There has been a growing trend for interesting earring treatments big on the red carpet. “Hoops are becoming important again, but in a fresh way — textured, sculpted, organic forms, and set with stones,” she describes.

Bold links are coming on strong too, in shorter length chain necklaces with pendants, says Maccaroni. In bracelets, many brands have taken stacking to layering cuffs, and bolo is the new bangle! In rings, designs are going up, down and across fingers, with negative space, hinged, spiraled, and stacked.

Karen Crowe, merchandising and marketing for Quality Gold in Fairfield, Ohio concurs that earring is the trend category—citing more climbers, threaders and front and back styles in silver. She also cites silver chain a top seller. And, anything adjustable in necklaces and bracelets is trending. “The versatility and one-size-fits-all concept is driving sales.”

Blackened silver, especially partnered with brushed white silver; floral motifs; and texture (hammered, repoussé, etched, granulated…) are key design directions in silver jewelry, says Maccaroni. The use of gold and gold plating is prevalent.

Eve Chiles for Breuning, Lawrenceville, Georgia cites two-tone and tri-color designs among the brand’s bestsellers—mixing silver with rose or yellow gold plating, and/or blackened. She says undulating designs; leaf inspirations; and geometric patterns are among the most popular looks.

Silver with yellow gold plating in Y-necklaces and lariats, anything Boho or Cali style, are bestsellers for Alison & Ivy brand under Fantasy Diamond Corp., Chicago, says Marketing Director Crystal Oyler Slagle. For gift giving, the brand does well with mother and family inspired jewelry in its Posh Mommy collection—with handwriting or personalized pieces trendy.

Maccaroni sees silver with gemstones and pearls an important and growing segment of the market. Signature to her style, Atlanta designer Sara Blaine, a Benchmark brand, incorporates in her silver designs pearls and mother of pearl, and gems like topaz, garnet, peridot, and different quartz. The silver gives her design flexibility to create lifestyle jewelry that’s wearable, fashionable and affordable.

Many brands also are including more silver for men. There’s an uptick in interest and demand for menswear, reports Maccaroni, especially silver fashion cufflinks as more young men are back to wearing French cuff shirts. She also sees demand for men’s silver bracelets and bands, describing the category on the cusp of major growth. Blackened, weave designs, animal motifs, and mixed with leather are all key directions in this segment.

Bridal Bump

Expect to see more silver jewelry promoted in the wedding category for gift giving between the couple and bridal party, and as wedding day accessories—a campaign SPS launched last year and will expand in 2017 in advertising, promotions, trunk shows, and sales tools.

According to SPS, 45% of retailers say silver remains the merchandise category providing jewelers with the best-maintained margins, with diamond jewelry second at 27%, and bridal jewelry third at 16%. With 78% of silver jewelry purchasers in the 20- to 40-age range, it makes sense to promote this category to reach this demographic and build your bridal business says Maccaroni.

Think silver birthstone, charm/tag/pendant, and pearl jewelry; cufflinks, tie tacks/lapel pins; and wedding day jewels like earrings, neckwear, bracelets and hair adornment. “With its timeless beauty and affordable price points, silver is the go-to gift for the bridal party,” says Maccaroni, “and perfect option for brides and grooms to wear on the wedding day.”