2015 - What are people saying? What do we think?
The world seems to be changing at an incredible rate these days.
Technology is evolving so quickly that sci-fi writers are having trouble keeping up, and it's not just about science – fashion trends, too, seem to come and go faster than they ever have. Stronger connectivity and a growing 'share everything' culture seems to have brought about a greater confidence in experimentation, something we alluded to in our jewelry trend forecast for 2015.
With the jewelry industry being affected by this change on all kinds of fronts, we thought we'd look at what people are saying about the industry at the beginning of 2015 and give our perspective on the year's hot topics.
What they're saying: Wearable technology will make a real breakthrough this year.
What we think: We should all be pretty comfortable with the smart watch concept by now – Samsung brought out their Galaxy Gear all the way back in 2013. But back then we weren't seeing any involvement from high-profile designers, and as such this kind of thing was nowhere near the fine jewelry bracket. With the arrival of Chanel, Colette, Michael Bastian and Rebecca Minkoff on the scene, smart jewelry is rapidly becoming a fashion item rather than just a gizmo like it was before. Stacking traditional bracelets still seems to be prevailing over anything electronic at the moment. But driven perhaps by failure, tech companies are finally reaching out to design experts and we're already starting to see tech jewelry 'collections'.
At Chris & Alix, requests for lockets that play music when opened are about as close to electronic jewelry demands that we've had. But as large retailers begin to include wearable technology in their jewelry collections, we expect to receive more and more electronic requests.
What they're saying: In-house manufacturing is on the rise, driven by an increase in 3D modelling and printing.
What we think: This is really close to home for us, because in-house manufacturing has allowed us to grow our business. 3D modelling has allowed us to grow an international customer base because we've been able to send very representative images electronically, crossing oceans and timezones. Previously we relied on hand-drawn images, and jewellers would have to carve waxes by hand before the customer would get to see what their piece would really look like – a much more laborious and costly process.
The increase in jewelry grade 3D printing machines which brought about more competitive pricing for the 3D waxes, and that's helped to drive down the price for the consumer.
What they're saying: Diamond buybacks could become more common.
What we think: This is the concept of trading in a used diamond as part of an exchange for new jewelry. We've seen this mostly with gold, but also with diamonds, and the belief that it's on the rise is driven by today's aging population. We frequently get heirloom jewelry from clients to re-use and re-purpose, and within the last few months we've had some requests to take diamonds and upgrade them to larger stones with today's cut.
A lot of these heirloom jewelry diamonds are cut in ways that were popular at the turn of the century, but aren't so today. We've found vintage-style rings to be popular shares on social networks such as Pinterest and, as a result, these older diamonds may find a new niche in the market.
What they're saying: Retailers now need to become media, offering more than just jewelry – and we'll see more of this.
What we think: It's easy to see why having an online presence is so important to any retailer now, because it can make the difference between a business succeeding and not succeeding. We've found that customers come to us often more knowledgeable than in the past, and it's because prices, quotes and other information can all be found easily online by the savvy consumer.
What they're saying: Fashion is becoming more casual. JCK Magazine has forecast this year to be about soft silhouettes, pastel colours, yellow gold, natural symbols such as feathers and beads, and neckwear of all stripes.
What we think: The casual trend, and a softening of tradition, is something we're also seeing applied to engagement rings, as social norms change. While some people stick to the traditional and classic gold/platinum and diamonds or other precious gemstone, many are opting for simpler rings that emphasize an aspect of their relationship that has sentimental value.
It's set to be an interesting year!
Keep an eye on our blog – it'll be interesting to see how these trends develop throughout the year, and we'll certainly be coming back to these topics at a later date.