In 10 years shoppers will pay for shopping using embedded technology.

The future of jewellery retail could be transformed by payment systems borrowed straight from the pages of science fiction.

By the middle of the next decade, customers could be paying you for their purchases with nothing more than a handshake or by using communication devices embedded into creative jewellery pieces.


That means Professional Jeweller readers in just over 10 years could be selling jewellery that pays for itself, predicts a report entitled Pay Your Way 2025, which was commissioned by the UK Payments Council.

The report charts the opinions of more than 4,000 UK adults on how they expect their retail habits to change in relation to payment technology, and compares those opinions to the forecasts of futurologist Dr Ian Pearson on where technology could lead us in the next decade.

The survey found that more than half of Brits (51%) expect to be able to pay by scanning their thumbprint in the year 2025. They also expect to be occupying a digitally enabled home, with almost two thirds (65%) of people expecting to have their lights, ovens and computers triggered by speech.

Pearson thinks these ideas are not radical enough. He believes technology will allow for data to be transmitted through electronic impulses on the skin, allowing a transaction to be registered via a normal handshake.

Payment using digital jewellery could arrive even sooner as the technology to transmit and receive a data signal continues to shrink in size. Jewellery could be designed to accept signals from tiny Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips.

Rings could also instantly verify signatures, using embedded accelerometers that monitor the G-forces created when a hand is waved around. This would allow them to register a virtual wave of a pen that is as unique and trusted as a real signature.

The technology, argues Pearson, will digitise and transmit gestures and actions that we do every day today in a way that will form a secure transaction and contract between customers and retailers.

“Technology will adapt to us, making it easier to pay for things, even for people who dislike technology,” he suggests. “As in so many other areas, the more advanced technology becomes, the less visible it will be, and the more human.”

The concept of jewellery as a payment tool is far from far fetched. Designer Benjamin Payton has already created a range of rings embedded with the technology used for London transport payment device the Oyster card. Instead of having to carry a credit card-sized card around, commuters can simply wave his rings at gates instead.

The jump from Oyster cards to debit or credit cards is small, and in the watch industry a company called Watch2Pay already has a watch in production that is fitted with a MasterCard chip that allows wearers to use it to pay for items wherever contactless payment is accepted.

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