Men’s jewellery may represent a small percentage of the market, but it’s a sector that is increasingly growing and proving itself to be important to business.
This year’s Father’s Day was hailed a great success by leading suppliers in the jewellery industry, many of which witnessed better than expected and/ or recorded breaking sales, and so far 2018 has promised a bright future for this area of the market.
In fact, if there is one thing men’s jewellery suppliers can agree on, it’s that there is a real thirst for men’s accessories at the moment.
“We have seen an increase in popularity of our ChloBo Man range after putting more focus on our men’s pieces this year, over last,” shares ChloBo creative director, Chloe Moss, adding: “We are definitely seeing a growth in sales and actions on our website on our men’s section as well as male subscribers and followers on social channels. Over Father’s Day our sales on men’s pieces did better than ever which shows there is definitely potential to grow this area of our brand more.”
Sales for Unique & Co’s men’s jewellery offering increased by 9% last year, and 2018 show no signs of the momentum slowing down.
Company founder, Daniel Ozel, comments: “This year started very promising, with a further growth, despite the more difficult general market situation. Over the last few years men’s jewellery has become more and more popular. As one of the leading companies for men’s jewellery in the UK, with probably the biggest collection, we have seen an increased interest in general and more retail shops taking the collection on. Further sales with our existing retailers have also been growing constantly over the years.”
For industry supplier Gecko, its men’s jewellery brand, Fred Bennett, has delivered a strong performance this year, mostly driven by bracelets, with sales of these up 30% on last year so far. Moreover, despite being around for 15 years, the brand still opens new accounts every week.
Deakin & Francis is also having a fantastic year, with new ranges become instant hits, and the opening of its first retail store further elevating the brand and attracting new customers.
Elsewhere, British jewellery brand Henryka is planning to develop its offering for men following unexpected growth over the last 12 months.
Henryka founder, Anna Emmett, explains: “We have been pleasantly surprised by the growth in popularity of our men’s jewellery designs this year, especially in the lead up to Father’s Day. We have always offered a broad range of cufflinks, but since stepping into the wholesale space our customers have come to know the breadth of our collections, and we have encouraged them to look at all facets of our range.
She continues: “We have seen increasing interest in our men’s jewellery, and it is an area that we are planning to develop over the next six months.”
As interest grows for men’s jewellery, bracelets continue to dominate sales, with the stacking and layering trend that is popular for females, also taking the lead in this sector.
Unique & Co founder, Daniel Ozel, shares: “For us the biggest trend is layering and stacking wristwear. Our collection of bracelets with multiple strands do extremely well.”
Ozel adds: “For us the bestsellers are still leather bracelets in combination with beads and nice clasps. Our best sellers are the Principal bracelet and Black Horn Peace bracelet, both simple yet strong silver and black horn stone pieces.”
Continuing on with the layering and stacking trend, necklaces are also selling well for men’s jewellery suppliers, with modern interpretations of tags, gun metal hues, and silver chains of varying weights, lengths, and sizes, pulling in sales within this category.
For men looking to adorn their everyday outfits, a splash of colour is increasingly welcome. Whether a hint of rose gold or popular blue, or something more vibrant and unusual, male consumers are now turning to accessories to brighten up casual wear.
“Colour is starting to emerge more and more — coloured stones more so than metals,” shares founder of fine men’s jewellery brand Oscar Graves, with Gecko creative director, Desiree Pringle, adding: “We have noticed more of a trend for multi-colour items and have more of this launching in our new collection in September.”
When it comes to formal attire, good old fashioned cufflinks are enjoying a revival, with consumers experimenting with more playful and personal designs.
Deakin & Francis creative director, Henry Deakin, shares: “Personalisation has been a big trend this year — from our enameled cufflink initials to the desire to have special initials or meaningful numbers hand-engraved. Here at Deakin & Francis we are masters in the field of bespoke and this has also been increasingly popular. Whether that’s a truly unique pair of cufflinks or a personal, hand-painted design — whatever a customer chooses we can guarantee the finished result will be of the highest standards. And we don’t except this trend to disappear anytime soon.”
Oscar Graves introduced cufflinks this year and says sales have been phenomenal, while other brands have seen a steady lift in sales — particularly with these being bought as gifts.
On the fine jewellery side, suppliers say men are sticking to white metals for wedding rings, whether white gold, palladium, platinum — or even silver in a bid to keep costs down.
Hockley Mint’s product development manager, Poppy Elder, says: “Men’s wedding jewellery remains fairly traditional, with white metals still the most popular. We’ve even seen some demand for silver wedding bands for men who aren’t used to wearing jewellery and want to keep costs down as much as possible — which also allows them to be able to spend a bit more on the ladies bands.”
Charles Green MD, Oli Sutton, adds: “Given the current high price of palladium 950, we’ve seen our top end platinum gents wedding rings sales increase, and the same can be said of our more affordable palladium 500 range.”
Experts are also noting a rise in men adding a second colour to designs, whether to nod to their partners ring, or to add another dimension to a classic.
In terms of style, men are sticking to more traditional wedding bands, but are enjoying experimenting with personal elements. However, for most gents, bespoke wedding ring elements tend to veer on the safe side.
Men are increasingly being influenced by social media stars, with a rise of male bloggers promoting the importance of accessorising outfits with necklaces, bracelets, and rings.
Many male consumers are fashion savvy, and really care about what they are wearing. Like women, these shoppers will look to friends, culture, celebrities, and influencers for inspiration.
“When it comes to jewellery, it is all about trusting how it looks,” shares ChloBo’s creative director. “Whether it is masculine, on trend, or goes with an individual’s style. Those with an interest in fashion and styling look up to influencers all over the internet and media that are renowned for their style. If they see a valuable celebrity or influencer in a certain style, they will trust that it is an investment.”
Curran of Oscar Graves adds on the power of celebrity: “If David Beckham wears a tailored new suit or reveals a new tattoo, men want to emulate him. We’ve seen this first hand (pardon the pun) when Hector Bellerin of Arsenal and Spain wore ‘The Cuban’ ring by Oscar Graves at the GQ style awards in London. The interest in the piece went through the roof.”
Curran also believes women are more interested in men’s jewellery now and are beginning to encourage partners to invest in pieces.
He explains: “In our opinion, women have never been too attracted to men’s jewellery up until now. However, as we change men’s jewellery to much more style driven, tailored designs with deep colouring, women are now becoming interested and beginning to engage with their male partners at an influencing level. Simply put, men’s jewellery is now also catching the eye of women.”
Furthermore, industry professionals say a lot of men’s jewellery purchases are actually made by women. Either women coming in store with a man to persuade them to invest in a piece, or going solo and purchasing jewels as gifts for the men in their lives.
However, while the balance still airs on the side of females buying for males, men are growing in confidence and retailers are seeing a lift in self-purchases.
Daniel Ozel shares: “Quite a lot of sales for men’s jewellery are still done by females, who buy their partners jewellery as gifts, however in the last few years this has changed and more men buy it for themselves. They want to be more fashionable and trendy. So things will be more fashion driven, and they don’t only buy it for a special occasion. However men don’t want to spend too much on jewellery.”
Like other areas of the trade, customer service is very important when it comes to selling to men.
Retailers need to be aware that stepping into a jewellers may feel embarrassing or intimidating for men, especially if they are looking for themselves. Therefore, it’s important to make them feel comfortable and valued.
Aside from providing an excellent customer service, experts believe men’s jewellery needs a dedicated space in store, which men can feel comfortable browsing in.
Unique & Co’s founder explains “Men don’t research too much about jewellery like woman. They buy things more spontaneously and buy it when they see and like it. So for men it’s important to see a nice selection of jewellery which they easily can try and decide quickly. So the display and POS of product is important, but retailers also need to have a nice selection in the shop and not only a few items.”
Curran echoes: “All retail space is at a premium, when men’s jewellery gets the same opportunity to showcase their product as women, then it will begin to make a serious impact, just look at what men’s watches can achieve.”
Department stores are leading the way and allocating a specific space for men’s jewellery to breathe and attract its target audience.
Thomas Sabo has also played with this idea at its flagship in London where it has opened a dedicated men’s jewellery suite dubbed the ‘Rebel Room’.
The brand’s new managing director, Tony Bjork, shares: “We think men’s jewellery is a huge opportunity that no one has taken and we want to take that opportunity. Communication wise, we are talking about it more than ever before, and in our store in South Morton Street we have made an environment where we believe men can specifically focus and feel comfortable shopping.”
When asked what retailers can do the boost men’s jewellery sales, he replies: “I think they can do a lot because the male shoppers are out there and we also see a lot of women actually buying for men. So first of all you need a good assortment and you also need a place in your store so it doesn’t feel like going to the women’s underwear department looking for something.”
Ozel adds: “As a brand we will further invest heavily in new products and marketing. We have to develop and offer more innovation in product, but also marketing. The marketing is important to make men aware to wear more jewellery. From a retailer perspective I think they need to give it more attention and space in the shops, because there is still quite a lot of potential and growth possible in this segment. If they can attract more men to their shops, they will profit and sell also more ladies jewellery.”
Alongside providing physical space in stores, retailers must not forget to shout out about the men’s jewellery online as well. Some brands have gone so far as to create separate social channels for the men’s offering, in order to deliver a strong and clear message to a targeted group.
Whether separate or as part of the store and brand’s already established channel, it’s important to showcase images to inspire styling, and highlight gifting potentials.
This is where the brands can help with marketing materials. The majority of men’s jewellery suppliers are equipped with product images, model shots, social media campaigns and more. They will also be able to tell you what’s selling well across the board, and what others are doing to drive sales of their products.
Anchor & Crew brand development manager, Chris Warner, concludes: “Our team predicts that the men’s jewellery trend will never be as big as something like the women’s charm bracelet craze or how men love to purchase three or more watches, but those who are struggling to realise that the male consumer is absolutely worth satisfying are undoubtedly missing out on the potential for a strong portion toward their sales. We feel that the UK are slowly realising men’s jewellery’s worth, but it can definitely be said at a much slower rate than some of the foreign markets we have experience in.
“Men will, and very much do now, want to style accessories too, and by this fact Anchor & Crew has gone from strength to strength.”
MAIN IMAGE CREDIT: Deakin & Francis