Bridal Q&A: Kirsti Atherton, David M Robinson

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Canary Wharf store specialist on the web and why ethics are crucial.

The February 2013 issue of Professional Jeweller is dedicated to the wedding jewellery market and the emerging trends and market evolutions that will shape it in 2013. Here Kirsti Atherton, jewellery and watch specialist at David M Robinson at Canary Wharf, London, on solitaires being in and palladium being out, why the internet is for information only and the importance of a transparent supply chain.

Professional Jeweller: At David M Robinson what have been the main changes to the wedding market over the past year?
Kirsti Atherton: We have found that the internet has proven to give a vast amount of information for the clients. Our clients are far more informed than a few years ago and do tend to have their own ideas and specifics. Trends are also followed more so than ever.

PJ: You mention online becoming more important, but for David M Robinson customers is this for browsing or buying?
KA: Clients do tend to look online for ideas and styles, however nine times out of 10 clients do like to come in store a speak to a specialist, whom will guide them through the process and advise them of all the aspects of buying these very special items.

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PJ: Are wedding shoppers at your store price conscious?
KA: Yes, over the last few years clients have become far more price conscious. We understand that when planning and costing a wedding, the total can be extremely frightening and that the thought of spending a further lump sum on rings can seem even more so. However, these rings are worn every day, so cutting corners on probably one of the most important parts of the special day is not the way forwards.

PJ: For your shoppers, what is the most popular engagement ring style?
KA: Single solitaires are still by far the strongest style, whether it is with an Asher cut diamond, round brilliant or emerald cut diamond. Single solitaires with four claws set in platinum are the most popular. Coloured stones like rubies or sapphires set in clusters are still very popular since the engagement of Kate Middleton and Prince William.

PJ: And the metal of choice?
KA: Platinum every time. It’s hard wearing, very rare and holds its original white colour. This has been the popular metal for the last few years. Palladium has not proven to be popular at all and we have probably been asked a handful of times. However once platinum is advised this has always been preferred.

PJ: What about extra added sparkle – are diamond-set wedding bands faring well in store?
KA: Diamond-set wedding bands for ladies are the most popular. Gents do not really wear diamond-set wedding bands, however it’s not completely unheard of and the style has increased over the last couple of years.

PJ: Is a flush fit of wedding and engagement ring important to your customers?
KA: It depends on the client’s requirements. I like to have a fitted wedding band, I find it easier to wear and it’s less likely to be uncomfortable. I also find they are less likely to lose their shape and catch.

PJ: Does ethical come into the purchasing decision for wedding shoppers at David M Robinson?
KA: Clients do care about ethical rings and this plays a huge part in the purchasing. One of the most frequently asked questions is ‘Are your stones conflict free and is your gold fair trade?’. We do tend to advise clients in the initial consultation that we only use conflict-free materials. This is a very important factor for us at David M Robinson and the more people made aware the better.

PJ: We have noted an increase in demand for bespoke wedding jewellery – do you see that as a trend that still has growth?
KA: Bespoke has always been a big part of the jewellery industry and has become very popular recently. Clients now have their own ideas and designs that they would like to incorporate into the design to give it that personal touch.

PJ: Do you expect 2013’s wedding shoppers be flashier than 2012 or more conservative?
KA: I think it depends on the trend over the next year. However, classic designs will always be a winner as these stay a traditional style and a true favourite.

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