A look back on the major issues that shaped business this year.
It’s that time again when we get all reflective. As the jewellery industry prepares to push into 2013 and a brand new year of trading. Rachael Taylor looks back on the major issues of 2012 and the key lessons to be taken from the past 12 months.
THERE IS A REAL DESIRE FOR BESPOKE JEWELS
Shoppers have increasingly leaned towards a product that they can make their own. This fascination first reared its head with the concept of personalisable jewellery such as beads and charms that allowed shoppers to build up unique combinations from a mass-produced selection. Now that trend is moving on with shoppers showing a real desire for bespoke fine jewels, whether that be a slight tweak to an existing design or a commission from scratch. Retailers and brands have answered this call with new bespoke divisions, workshops and design services. Even the multiples have got on board with the likes of Ernest Jones, Goldsmiths and even H Samuel giving shoppers the chance to buy a unique piece.
COSTUME JEWELLERY HAS ITS PLACE IN JEWELLERS
Base metal was never to cross the threshold of most jewellers, until 2012 that is. As the recession continued to bite and precious metal prices soldiered on in an upward trajectory many retailers admitted defeat and allowed base metal creations, such as the popular crystal bead bracelets, take shelf space. Rather than being negative, this move has turned out to be a real financial lift for many a store as the jewellery industry capitalised on the back of one of the biggest phenomenons to hit jewellery for a few years.
CREATING A DIFFERENTIATED DIAMOND OFFER CAN HELP AVOID PRICE WARS
2012 really has been the year of the diamond with a difference. We have had extra facets, diamond brand names, diamonds that kiss, patented cluster settings designed to make small stones look like a large solitaire, ethical diamonds, tiny certified diamonds and even diamonds engraved with the names of football clubs. As the marketplace has suffered at the hands of faceless online diamond dealers happy to make a tiny margin and undercut the high street, retailers have searched for a point of difference to compete on other things than price, and it seems that the diamond wholesalers have been only too happy to help out with ideas.
RETAIL INNOVATION IS NO LONGER OPTIONAL
The pages of magazines such as Professional Jeweller have long been filled with warnings about standing still. The message, it would seem, has been received loud and clear this year with many stores innovating, be that through refits or opening additional shops dedicated to a sole brand or fashion jewellery, or more traditional retailers kickstarting e-tail offers and social media campaigns. Those that have failed to do so have more often than not been found in the same magazines announcing closures.
THE JEWELLERY INDUSTRY WILL RISE UP AGAINST FAKES AND COPY CATS
When Tatty Devine appeared on the BBC to publicise its battle with Claire’s Accessories it brought a long-suffered issue of high street shops copying jewellers to the fore. Its success has inspired many others to pick up the gauntlet and fight to protect original design. Elsewhere major brands, such as Links of London, have stood up to counterfeiters, employing specialists to seek out websites selling fakes and shut them down. Trading Standards, meanwhile, has been diligent in scouring car boot sales and market stalls for fakes to seize.
CASH FOR GOLD MUST BE REGULATED
The boom in cash for gold services on the high street has given the industry a much-needed lift in difficult times but it has also caused a lot of negative press thanks to some dubious companies setting up shop. Criminals have also used it to make fencing jewellery easier than ever, making thefts targeting jewellers suddenly more attractive. While cashing in gold is still a business avenue worth pursuing, regulation is needed. In answer to this, retailers are signing up to a voluntary Gold Standard introduced by a group of organisations including the BJA to make the whole process more traceable and to try and cut crime.
LUXURY JEWELLERY DOESN’T NEED TO BE STUFFY
This year we have seen a clear shift in luxury brands trying to shake off the stuffy shackles associated with brands of their station. Asprey got arty, Faberge got trendy, Van Cleef threw open its doors to teach mere mortals about jewels and Chopard teamed with Disney for a haute joallerie collaboration based on its famous cartoon princesses. As we have learned from these uber-luxe brands, the luxury goods consumer is younger at heart, if not in age, and a new dialogue needs to be adopted to sell to them.
WE ARE STILL IN LOVE WITH TEAM GB
Last year we were revelling, in a post-royal wedding glow, in the fact that it’s great to be British, and this year is no different. It’s been another winner for Team GB with the Olympics and Diamond Jubilee keeping those patriotic feelings burning, as well as making everyone else around the globe want to be British; a good thing all round for British jewellery design domestically and internationally.
FUTUREPROOFING THE INDUSTRY IS KEY
The recession has brought with it job cuts and manufacturing shifts to the Far East, and it could be quite easy to let old jewellery traditions and skills fall out of use in the UK, but we’re certainly not ready to do that. British manufacturers have been working hard to claw back production to the UK, making more jobs, while much-publicised apprenticeship schemes are working hard to encourage jewellery businesses to inject some fresh blood into their businesses and train up a new generation of jewellers, and educational facilities are reinvigorating courses to attract students into the trade.
HOW TO GET CREATIVE TO MAKE PRECIOUS JEWELS MORE AFFORDABLE
While we have mentioned that fashion jewellery has been a major influencer in 2012, manufacturers and designers have been working creatively to realise designs with sensible price points in precious metals. While the common denominator is to use less metal, the interpretations have been wide, sparking fresh innovation, from working with large hollow shapes, utilising negative space, mixing precious with materials such as rubber and cord and utilising ancient techniques such as filigree.
This article was taken from the December 2012 issue of Professional Jeweller. To read the issue online, click here.