Wrappers’ delight: Trends in jewellery packaging

Make the undressing as much of a thrill as what’s inside.

Packaging is no longer an afterthought but a tool to make shopping for jewellery all the more thrilling for a customer. Kathryn Bishop discovers how packaging is changing, from its collectability and design, to unusual materials.

When you close a jewellery sale, the next step is normally to present the piece in a gift box. What do you reach for when it is a £100 sale? And what do you select when it is a £1,000 sale?

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It is fair to say the type of box a customer leaves a jewellery store with will reflect the amount they have spent on the item, although in tough times stores have been known to cut costs by packaging pricey items in cheaper packaging or even charging for a packaging upgrade. But in a competitive environment, cutting corners on packaging can be seriously damaging to a store’s brand.

These days, recession or not, customers expect more from their jewellery wrapping. After all, the excitement of buying a piece of jewellery, whether it is for themselves or as a gift, does not end when they say “I’ll take it” or click to pay online. The box, the ribbon and even a little card describing their purchase should all be a basic part of gift wrapping; these elements are the lasting reminder, and will say an awful lot about the care and attention a retailer puts into each sale and into each customer.

It is easy to argue that a beautiful box can make a purchase, but not so easy to justify the expense of that beautiful box in tough times. Quality packaging is never cheap and that has been one of the reasons for recent changes in demand from jewellers who, during the recession, have placed their spending elsewhere.

Simon Feiner, managing director of Finer Packaging, says that while packaging is one of the first areas in which costs are cut, retailers and brands should keep in mind that packaging is also a key driver of sales. “Customers are always looking to save and packaging has traditionally been the first to suffer,” he explains. “But packaging sells the product and with this in mind our retail customers are slowly realising once again that what the customer walks away with is the signature of the store and this pushes them to spend more time and money in getting it right.”

Claire Weldon, managing director of The Jewellers’ Box Company, found that during the recession a number of her customers sought cheaper solutions or decided to work through their stock of packaging, and thus went quiet when it came to ordering. But, rather than make cheaper lines she stuck with maintaining the quality of her product offer. “To be honest, I see no point in trying to compete with the larger more powerful companies who buy huge amounts of boxes from China,” she says. “I have always felt we have a niche in the market and are wise to stick to it.”

As a result in the last few months Weldon has noticed that people she has not heard from for some time getting in touch to order once more. “Hopefully that means that their businesses are also picking up,” she says.

As a reaction to the recession Finer Packaging has pushed its in-house design to adapt to the changing and challenging market, where standing out from the crowd has become a must.

“We are now seeing a dramatic change and we are being asked to create special designs in a variety of materials and colours,” Feiner explains.

He notes that bolder colours are in vogue as jewellers step away from typically safe dark box colours, meaning that black can no longer be assumed the colour of luxury.

Vicky Leyshon, head of design at Gecko, said that the gifting element of its children’s D for Diamond collection pushed the company to keep its gift wrapping sharp and current – something it updated last year with bright pink and blue boxes and bags. “It is equally important that the packaging is eye-catching and fun as well as retaining the preciousness of the brand,” she explains.

At The Jewellers’ Box Company leather boxes reign, and everything is made to order specially for the customer, taking into account company colours and sizes of the jewellery. Its hand-made leather boxes are lined with Italian fabric and are made in a wide range of colours, including turquoise, fuchsia and dark bottle green. “There is more emphasis on [retailers’] brand look these days as everyone is being encouraged to create a brand, so we are asked to incorporate specific colours and so forth,” Weldon explains.

Packaging should add to the theatre of purchasing jewellery; after all, Tiffany & Co. would not be the same without its turquoise box, something that women and men alike recognise as a symbol of luxury and romance.

At retailer Stephen Einhorn packaging has gone a step further and is, quite literally, smashing. Its breakable heart-shaped packaging is likely unique among retailers in the UK, and adds a talking point to any gifting purchase.

The patented heart-shaped plaster packaging was designed by the store’s eponymous founder and is handmade in its London workshop. The packaging is created in two halves and when the purchse is placed inside it is sealed with heat. The packaging is available in a range of colours and while it costs shoppers an additional £37, the added wow-factor it brings is worth the money, particularly for gifts.

“I originally designed the heartbreak packaging to go with a women’s necklace called the Caged Heart," says Einhorn. "Both designs were, and still are, about playing around with all the feelings of love and the high and lows.”

At London retailer Nicholas James, packaging has long been a part of its drive to stand out from the crowd. When it first opened in 1999 it realised that it needed jewellery boxes with impact and so had a collection of bespoke Perspex boxes made in various bright shades including green, orange and purple, to fit with the colour scheme of its shop. The boxes were an instant hit, so much so that customers began collecting them, asking for a different colour with each purchase.

As time went on this type of packaging, while unique, proved costly. “We reverted back to off-the-shelf boxes for some time, but found them inferior to the original packaging,” explains Nicholas Fitch, founder of Nicholas James. “I believe you should always sell a ring or item of jewellery in a box that matches its value.”

As a result Fitch put the feelers out to replace the original costly boxes, and found that Noble packaging came through. “They did a lot of research and development with us and I can’t say enough how accommodating they were,” he says.

Feiner says that packaging is also becoming very important for new product or brand launches, as part of the consumer’s experience of something brand new. “Very often the packaging is the force behind the success of the actual product itself,” he states. “Companies are investing more and more in designing something that will become instantly recognisable and more sought after.”

At jewellery brand Lily & Lotty, packaging was of utmost importance at the brand’s inauguration to the UK market. Its founder Graham Stock selected bright turquoise and grey packaging for its mainline collections, while a deep coral shade was chosen for its children’s range, both selected to make maximum and memorable impact for customers.

Leyshon also kept the customer in mind for the update to D for Diamond’s packaging. “Packaging should not just be a container for the product, but should add to the experience of the purchase as well as the recipient’s excitement when receiving it. Having a stand-out design helps the brand make a colourful impact at point of sale and crowded window displays that grabs the attention of shoppers in this highly competitive market,” she says.

Meanwhile, Weldon says that while packaging demands can vary from retailer to retailer, those who are happy to put a £300 ring into a £6 box are the ones who believe the whole experience of buying jewellery is important. “[We supply] true keepsake boxes, rather like those of old that were handed down from generation to generation with a favourite piece of jewellery,” she explains. “As I often say to customers, our boxes do not get thrown away like so many.”

As the Fairtrade Fairmined and recycled realms have highlighted the importance of traceability and provenance in the materials used to make jewellery itself, the packaging industry is thus beginning to meet the demands of jewellers with equally ethical wrapping.

Fitch explains that ethical packaging is becoming ever-more imperative for him as a retailer. “I think packaging is hugely important and I wonder if inevitably the industry will turn to environmentally friendly packaging," he says. "We’re obliged to look at the options.”

Feiner agrees. “We are seeing more requests for something different with the use of cardboards and other recyclable materials," he says. "Retailers are becoming more environmentally friendly in the use of their materials.”

For Weldon, the way in which the company works is also of importance. “The leather we use is vegetable tanned, which is better for the environment," she explains. "We are a fair trade company in that we work with small groups of artisans in Bangladesh on a fair trade basis. I think a lot of customers are happy with our philosophy and appreciate the work we have done with our artisans to get their work to an internationally respected standard.”

So while a simple cardboard box might be a cheap way of wrapping up a sale, considering everything from the colour of packaging to its materials, as well as logo designs and extras such as ribbon, gift cards and tissue all add up to what will be a lasting memory – and a reason to return to your shop again and again.


This article was taken from the December 2012 issue of Professional Jeweller. To read the issue online, click here.



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