In 2017 a modest Q4 growth set the seal on a positive year for global gold jewellery demand, but the UK still remained troubled by Brexit concerns.
Furthermore, hallmarking figures for the annual year recorded a 16.7% dip in the number of gold articles hallmarked, with 9ct and 18ct both taking a hit.
However, things are looking brighter for jewels crafted in the precious metals as early data for 2018 paints an optimistic picture and the general consensus is that things are slowly improving and stabilising.
In the World Gold Council’s Gold Demand Trends Q1 2018 report it revealed jewellery demand was up in the UK by 1% – a small, yet significant feat considering last year’s results – and although Q1 hallmarking figures cited a 1.5% fall in the number of gold items hallmarked, this is another small, yet significant improvement as during the same time last year the precious metal was down by 19%.
For brands selling gold jewellery in the UK, either straight to the consumer, or via wholesale, sales are stronger than expected considering the consequences of leaving the European Union are still yet to be confirmed.
For Italian fine jewellery brand Fope 2018 has got off to a fantastic start with consumers investing in its timeless yet contemporary designs, and for British jewellery manufacturer Curteis both 9ct and 18ct gold has been performing well.
Elsewhere, British jewellery designer Mark Milton has seen an increase in the volume of gold pieces being sold.
The designer shares with Professional Jeweller: “More and more retailers are coming back to gold jewellery. We have been gradually building
up our gold stockists for quite some time and we are continuing to do that this year.
“Gold prices remain high but we’re confident we can convince our customers that gold jewellery will outlive the other metals. Our recent sales figures show that retailers continue to buy gold, albeit very carefully, despite the high price,” adds Mark Milton, founder of the eponymous brand.
When the pound first collapsed against the dollar it had an impact on Hertfordshire-based jewellery maker, Amore, but the business took immediate action to remedy the consequences and now the brand is reaping the rewards.
Amore founder, Barry Mislin, shares: “Now that gold is stable and gold jewellery is making a revival we are not worried about the price. The consumer has got used to the higher prices, along with the retailers, and I believe the public spend money on jewellery thinking it’s nice to purchase something of perceived value rather than a bit of worthless silver. So I see this as a real positive for the jewellery trade going forward and hopefully we will see gold jewellery sales returning to levels not seen for many years.”
The challenge for Amore has actually been getting in front of the retailer in the first place.
Mislin explains: “Generally we are doing much better with our gold, diamond and gemstone jewellery and we are finding much more of an appetite for our gold lines than the Amore Argento Silver. Having said that it’s been slow so far this year, when we do actually get in front of retailers they love the Amore collections and the orders are very healthy, but it’s getting in front of them that is proving difficult.”
Over at WB the Jewellery Creative Jewellery Group both Domino Jewellery and Gecko have enjoyed a strong performance from gold during the start of the year.
Gecko creative director, Desiree Pringle, shares with us: “We have beaten plan every month this year on sales of our Elements Gold collection, which is fantastic. We will launch our next main collection this month, which we are really excited about, as we have some real winners in there and have shot a gorgeous new model campaign to support it.”
Retailers have also reported a rise in gold sales, with those Professional Jeweller has visited on its monthly cityscapes citing bridal and fine jewellery purchase are currently more prominent than silver.
While it might be a case of ‘slow and steady’, if this trend continues the market should be in an even better position this time next year.
When it comes to what trends are pulling in gold jewellery sales, a variety are driving business for UK jewellers.
In terms of metal colour, yellow gold is still having its time to shine, with the Meghan Markle effect continuing to influence British shoppers.
Nanis founder, Laura Bicego, says: “Shining, bright and charming: the trends over the last months has the warm colour of the yellow gold. Gold has already become a must, on the catwalks, on celebrities, and for bloggers and influencers.”
In addition younger consumers are still opting for rose gold.
Rox managing director, Kyron Keogh, explains: “Rose gold continues to be a popular choice for our younger clients — particularly in the Miss ROX range. We’ve also noticed a slight increase in the number of couples opting for rose gold engagement rings.”
Fope’s marketing manager, Valentina Bertoldo, adds: “Fope doesn’t particularly follow trends. Our collections are based on timeless designs and even though we keep launching new lines, our main innovation (and a trend that we set) refers to the Flex’it bracelets and rings. Having said so, we are witnessing a growing interest in rose gold in the UK.”
For Birmingham-based fine jewellery and bridal manufacturer, Domino, the personalisation trend is causing demand for mixed metal designs to rise. “We have seen an increase in demand for coloured metal — particularly yellow gold, but also for mixed metal designs,” shares Domino’s marketing co-ordinator, Chantelle Serrell-Cooke. She continues: “I think this is due to the personalisation trend, consumers are becoming more willing to play around with metal colour to create their own individual look.”
The personalisation trend has also made stacking fine jewellery a dominant trend, while the popularity of demi-fine pieces allows consumers to layer gold designs easily.
Curteis sales manager, Claire Davies, shares: “A crossover of trends merged over the last six months. Femininity, demi-fine and classic forms were all evident in the success of our gold collections. When expanding this collection, we included more delicate and timeless pieces to echo these trends. These designs also enabled us to offer layering to our customers which was another sought after look over the last six months.”
“Sales on demi-fine plain gold and gold with diamond has been brilliant, and traditional cluster sets in both precious and semi-precious stones have been great,” says Gecko’s creative director, with Keogh from Rox adding: “Our Miss ROX range is handcrafted in white, yellow and rose gold which is always hugely popular. Featuring delicate diamond pieces it’s a range which really appeals to our younger customers, offering the thrill of diamonds whilst staying chic and modern.”
On the other side of the fence, suppliers are also noting an uplift in consumers investing in heavier, and more statement style, gold pieces. Looking ahead, Davies from Curteis says: “In contrast to the last six months, we foresee a wave of heavier gold styles coming through. An
influx of our heavier traditional pieces have been selling through recently which is evidence of this.”
A look on the stands at Baselworld shows bold earrings will be the trend of the summer, with hoops and tassels both making a comeback.
And of course, personalisation will continue to pull in sales for fine jewellery retailers, from adding personal elements to existing products, to designing pieces from scratch and investing in bespoke commissions.
In particular, personalisation dominates the bridal jewellery market, with modern brides wanting engagement rings and weddings bands that are completely unique to them.
Throughout history, gold jewellery has always had a place in the market, even during the big branded silver boom, but what does the future look like for pieces crafted in the precious metal?
Mark Milton says: “It’s been around since before the ancient Egyptians — so I’m confident it will still be around and sought after 10,000 years from now! There was a time when gold jewellery was only accessible to the wealthy and it wasn’t part of the mass market — and to some extent, there are echoes of that again when the gold price is very high. However, I’m confident we will see a new growth period over the coming years so long as the gold price settles.”
Curteis echoes that price is key, with Davies saying if the price of gold stays stable throughout the year then it will continue pulling business from silver.
In order for it to stay relevant no matter the cost though, jewellers and suppliers need to make sure they are catering to the next generation of gold buyers, with experts saying a mixture of modern and traditional pieces will serve bricks and mortar stores well.
“We strongly believe in the UK gold jewellery market. We have launched Nanis less than one year ago and have already achieved amazing results,” shares Laura Bicego, with David Clark, managing director of W E Clark & Son adding: “It is my feeling that the demand will continue upwards this year.”
Keogh sums it up well as he concludes: “They say some things never go out of style and gold jewellery is a shining example of that.”