The gift market has always been essential to the jewelry industry.
Fine jewelry offers the ideal solution for people searching for message-bearing gifts — those with highly personal and emotional connections, made of precious materials and designed to last.
But there have been some significant shifts in jewelry gifting, mainly based on changing attitudes among consumers, says retail market consultant Kate Peterson of Performance Concepts, Montgomery Village, Maryland.
“Today, the drive toward personalization and the individual, emotional attachment to the gift is larger than ever before, and is, in many cases, far more important than even the materials,” says Peterson. “In what some consider to be a throwback to the Art Nouveau period, what it ‘says’ outweighs what it’s made of.”
The most significant change Peterson sees has been the growth of the self-gifting market, with women leading the way. “Women across the country are adding jewelry to the list of self-purchase fashion luxuries, where a stunning pair of diamond earrings ranks right up there with a $1,200 handbag or pair of boots. Unfortunately, in many cases, retailers conditioned by years of the men-buying-for-women mentality are missing major opportunities.”
In research for The Plumb Club, the Italian trends forecasting firm The Futurist finds a more significant movement towards self-gifting, especially for younger consumers. Not only do they have disposable income, but the shifting demographics see younger people starting a family much later in life, resulting in a more self-rewarding attitude. Purchasing gifts for oneself has become a way to express one’s individuality.
De Beers’ research finds the self-gifting trend to be one of the most straightforward opportunities for growth in the jewelry industry. It advocates jewelers place as much emphasis on self-gifting as they do on bridal and other relationship-related gifting occasions (i.e., birthdays, anniversaries, and seasonal holidays).
Tells a Story
In its research, The Futurist found that most consumers surveyed would consider wearing and buying jewelry for themselves and others as gifts that make a statement and tell a story about the individual.
The most compelling motifs for self-gifting and gifting to others emerged as the “guiding stars” — the Polar Star and the Sun, universally recognized symbols for guidance, hope, and inspiration. The research inspired The Plumb Club’s Radiant Universe Collection, featuring member designs interpreting this theme.
Represented in the jewelry were literal, abstract, and elongated star and sun designs (i.e. Breuning, IStar, and MJJ Brilliant); asymmetrical rays, half-stars, and fan shapes (i.e. IDD, Verigold, and Goldstar); diamonds and gems in constellation patterns (i.e., Color Merchants and KP Sanghvi); and combinations of celestial beings (i.e., Aneri Jewels and Prime Art & Jewel).
Other famous design notes include diamond and gem-dusted/encrusted surfaces, organic and irregular pavé and clustered settings, and star shapes carved in metal and set with diamonds (i.e., Uni-Design and KGS).
Cora Lee Colaizzi, marketing director and senior merchandiser for Quality Gold, personalized products that can be engraved with initials, signatures, messages, and even fingerprints remain center stage. A recent trends report by the Fairfield, Ohio-based manufacturer identifies charms as a critical style that layers meaning to any jewelry wardrobe.
Color is Personal
Research by The Futurist identifies charms and lockets among the coveted jewels for storytelling and personal reflection. Popular design motifs are celestial and spiritual. The report also underscores consumers’ affinity with color and the variety of gem types in fashion — from sapphire and opal to moonstone and malachite. Multi-color waves, achieved within a singular design or by stacking colorful styles together, are prevalent (i.e., MWI Eloquence).
“Gemstones allow jewelers to get personal,” cheers Theresa Namie, merchandise manager for the Minneapolis, Minnesota-based manufacturer Ostbye, including diamonds and pearls. “Birthstones are the go-to design elements to personalize any piece!” She says the color versatility within birthstones and their symbolism provide enormous custom design opportunities for the jewelers who carry them.
Namie advises retailers to stock updated birthstones, thee-stone, two-stone, and journey-style designs. This is especially popular as modern mom jewelry, layering your birthstone with that of your kids or exceptional gemstones to commemorate an anniversary. She reminds us that birthstones can be bought by and for a variety of people and reasons. It’s a no-brainer to stock, as someone celebrates a birthday or anniversary every day of the year.