FEATURE: Golden Opportunities

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A round-up of the 9ct gold brands fighting back in the UK market.

9ct gold lost it place in the market as gold prices rose but brands are pushing back with products that might be lighter weight but hit those all important price points. Rachael Taylor reports.

Gold as a colour is totally in vogue, and vermeil sales have been rocketing. But as consumers’ love for yellow metals holds faster than their plating, a hunger for the real thing has returned and there are brands that are savvy enough to get creative with gold to offer lower price points that you might expect.

As the silver jewellery market exploded we have often talked about the repositioning of silver as a luxury product and described how it has come to plug the gap in the market that was once filled by 9ct gold before 9ct gold priced itself out of that space.

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In the pre-price hike days of jewellery retailing, 9ct gold was an easy sell. It was cheap enough to be ringing through the tills at the likes of Argos and H Samuel and was seen as a relatively inexpensive gift. This all changed, however, as the price of gold set off on a well-documented upward pull.

Soon 9ct gold jewellery was not only no longer an option for gift shoppers and self purchasers, it was not an option for jewellery retailers. While 18ct sales held fast, led by the wedding market, and 24ct gold stayed steady in the Asian market, 9ct lost its identity. But now it seems to be making a comeback.

London Road is a jewellery brand that has been pushing into the market since its launch two and a half years ago and has done so with 9ct gold jewellery. The brand recently exhibited at IJL and co-owner and creative director Suzanne Adams says that it has developed a cult following thanks to its lower prices points, which it keeps below £500.

“Our family has been doing fine jewellery for three generations, so when we launched London Road we wanted to [continue to] use those skills and traditions,” says Adams.

She says that the soaring price of gold created a gap in the market for jewellery priced between £150 and £500, and says that London Road has filled this gap. Adams adds that every decision that the brand makes, be that about design, manufacturing or material choices is all done with the end goal of hitting those all important price points, and it is a technique that Adams says is paying off. “We are starting to see some of our first stockists come back for repeat business, which is great for a new brand, but we want to build on that success with more accounts,” she says.

Another 9ct gold brand pushing into the market is Blush, which is a sister brand to Ti Sento. The Blush brand officially launched in the UK at The Jewellery Show London in June through distributor IBB Amsterdam, although it is still very much in the testing stages of its development.

Blush has been selling in Amsterdam for some time now as a 14ct gold brand. The decision was made to use 9ct gold for the UK market and the brand offers jewellery – some set with CZs, Swarovski pearls or with ceramic details – in white, yellow or rose gold with retail prices starting at as little as £30 and peaking at £800.

Gecko has also been concentrating on offering an affordable gold range and has been selling its 9ct gold line under the banner Elements Gold. The jewellery in the range has retail price points of between £150 and £300.

The designers at Elements Gold have got creative with weight content to deliver 9ct gold pieces that are lightweight, but hit those all-important lower price points and do so with real gold, not plate, and in some designs an array of coloured gemstones.

Clever designs from the collection include 9ct gold teardrop-shape earrings that appear to be solid gold drops but are actually hollowed out and so have a much lower price, wholesaling for £63.60. Other designs include floral motifs that appear to have more metal content than they do, and again have low prices.

As with affordable platinum, creating affordable gold lines is all about illusion – dropping weight where you can to lower the price. Quality is more of an issue with gold, however, as the softer nature of the metal means that as the weight drops off, the designs become more fragile, but there are companies with huge expertise in the field getting creative to ensure that it is not impossible for 9ct gold to find its way back into the market. While silver might have taken over the metal’s place, there is still room for solid gold at the lower end of the market and even more importantly there is demand.
 

 

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