One of the UK’s premier silver jewellery brands, Hot Diamonds weathered the storm that was 2020 as well as any company, largely putting 20th anniversary celebrations on hold to focus on business.
In March, with the first lockdown looming, it quickly made the bold decision to revise its budget based on the new financial outlook.
Despite spending a large portion of the year in limbo, it burst out of the gates in October when its sales team returned from furlough and was finally allowed to do what it does best: sell.
Now, the company is working on new collections for 2021 and providing additional support to retailers as it recognises that the industry is not out of the woods yet.
“It’s been such a strange year,” sighs Hot Diamonds Group head of commerce, Adryan Cresswell.
He goes on: “When Covid hit in March, we immediately revised our 2020/21 budget in light of the anticipated effects of the pandemic. We brought our costs into line with the lower sales expectations and reduced our stock replenishment formulas accordingly.”
This was unquestionably the right move given the uncertainty of the situation. However, what Hot Diamonds’ management failed to realise when reducing the budget was just how strong sales would prove to be when business opened back up.
“When our sales team returned from furlough in October,” Cresswell says, “the amount of business they wrote prior to the second lockdown took us by surprise and exceeded our revised budget significantly.
“We found retailers were determined to invest in newness, despite Covid. This was such a positive experience for the whole company, and we are grateful to our retail partners for their forward-thinking attitude and ongoing support.”
Sell-through of Hot Diamonds’ ranges has been on a steady upward trend since before the pandemic, Cresswell reports, so the company was not taken completely by surprise when its products proved popular in October.
It was, however, a relief to know that the loyalty of its retail partners and end-consumers did not waver in the absence of non-essential bricks-and-mortar retail.
The head of commerce says: “High street sales were growing quickly for Hot Diamonds from January to March, but the first lockdown interrupted this pattern.
“However, the winter sell-in, in the gap between the first and second lockdowns, showed us the appetite for the brand is still very strong and retailers are reporting excellent sell-out post second lockdown, which is driving strong replenishment orders as we speak.
“This momentum and the positivity of our retail partners has helped us greatly in what could have been a very difficult year. Despite everything, we’re positive and getting through it all OK.” He adds: “Our new concept, Storyteller, has also proven a real winner for us.”
Storyteller is a personalised jewellery concept allowing customers to create individual pendants by selecting rhodium-plated, sterling silver letters and diamond icons. The company unveiled the new offering as its sales team returned to work.
The letters and icons slide onto sterling silver chains with no need for a bail or lobster clasp, creating what Hot Diamonds calls “a clean and contemporary look”.
The New Year
Heading into the New Year, Hot Diamonds has continued to innovate and vary its offerings for retail partners.
Cresswell says the company is aware that the financial danger of the pandemic is not over, especially for smaller independents, and Hot Diamonds will help where it can.
Despite being confident that vaccines could have the industry and the wider world nearly back on track by April, Hot Diamonds wants to do all it can to ensure that its retailers feel safe in the meantime.
Cresswell says: “Something that we have been doing for a while is ensuring high street retailers can always compete with online retail.
“If a consumer finds a Hot Diamonds design sold for less online, we facilitate the retailer in matching the online price and give a further 5% goodwill discount to the consumer, defending the retailer’s margin 100%.
“This is the fair thing to do alongside controlling our online presence as much as possible.
“In addition, we offer four brand manager visits a year with sales and merchandising support, local advertising contributions, market-leading point of sales materials and creative frequently updated for free, promotion margin support, stock re-balancing and a superb after-sales service through our customer services team.”
Looking further ahead, to a post-pandemic world, whenever that may be, Hot Diamonds actually has a good deal of confidence that the smaller independent jewellers will not just survive, but thrive in the ‘new normal’.
“We have a feeling that independent retailers are going to have a good run in the next few years,” Cresswell says. “That may sound controversial given the conditions on the high street, but they are flexible, astute and the competition from larger national retailers is reducing over time.”
We are grateful to our retail partners for their forward-thinking attitude and ongoing support.”
He adds: “We also think consumers have a particular affinity with the independent that the pandemic has accentuated.”
More immediately, however, Cresswell is confident that April will prove to be the turning point for Hot Diamonds, the jewellery industry and the world.
Hot Diamonds is even delaying the release of its SS21 ranges until April to allow the storm to pass. It could turn out to be a shrewd move.
“By the time the vaccines have taken sufficient effect,” Cresswell forecasts happily, “we expect the country to be flooded with positive vibes and we anticipate a wonderful summer and cracking AW21!”
New releases for 2021
Due to the pandemic, Hot Diamonds is holding back its spring and summer jewellery releases until April. Professional Jeweller tried its best to get Adryan Cresswell, Hot Diamonds head of commerce, to spill the beans on the new collections.
“By the summer, we will have developed a new concept for our Emozioni brand which we are very excited about and which addresses the direction we see trends taking through 2021,” Cresswell explains.
Aside from that, the head of commerce remains tight-lipped, saying: “I’m bound by secrecy – and we haven’t even finished designing it yet!”
On the subject of earlier SS21 releases, he is similarly tentative, but does hint: “Our spring/summer newness will be generous in weight, using only natural precious materials and targeted to the growing consumer base now demanding genuine quality that they can enjoy for years and years, over something more disposable.”
In terms of industry trends in 2021, Hot Diamonds sees layered gold pieces becoming a popular look, and also predicts a continuing demand for sustainability and ethical practices from consumers.