Columns Andrea Hill: Luxury Jewelry Must Carve a New, More Meaningful Path Our customers just don’t know how exciting, beautiful, and relevant jewelry can be. Published 5 years ago on June 14, 2016 By Andrea Hill Share Tweet INDIVIDUALITY is in, keeping-up-with-the-Joneses is out. Environmental stewardship is in, unconscious consumerism is out. Social awareness is in, ostentatious wealth is out. Thoughtful acquisition is in, conspicuous consumption is out. No wonder luxury jewelry is having a hard time. Which isn’t news. We’ve been watching the closures, consolidations, and down-sizings of luxury jewelry stores for years now. But it’s still newsworthy, because luxury jewelry hasn’t carved a new, meaningful path yet, an approach that responds to these changing values which not only refuse to go away, but instead, continue to build momentum. Advertisement Hedda Schupak conducted a very important interview in the Centurion Newsletter in April with third-generation “überluxury jeweler” Jonathan Dorfman, who recently closed his ultra-luxury jewelry store in Boston. Everyone in the jewelry industry should read this interview. The article addresses the issues of changing consumer tastes, social awareness, and values. But it also points to an element that has been masking the true impact of the changes in the US consumer. Societies where ostentatious wealth and social competition still have some oxygen — China, Russia, and oil-rich Arabic nations — are now suffering economically. During the past ten years these populations have bolstered the luxury jewelry market while the American consumer was turning her attention to other things. Now, as this foreign buyer steps away from the cash-register, the dramatic changes in our domestic market are painfully obvious. The Solution is Already Here There is a jewelry offering that is highly individualistic, often pays greater attention to sustainability, and delivers an experience of art, hand-craft, and the type of preciousness that is handed from generation to generation. It is designer jewelry, art jewelry, jewelry made by master jewelers in their studios. For the conscientious consumer, the story of fine jewelry made by artisans who still get their hands dirty is a compelling story; a story of skill built over years, a story of craftspeople who opted out of the more typical salaried/hourly path to pursue a life of art and creativity, a story of artists who have a passion to create beautiful, wearable things. Craftsmanship is in. Stories are in. Retailers totally focused on selling pearl button earrings, 1.0 tcw white diamond studs, 3-stone rings, and 4Cs-driven engagement rings cannot engage the new consumer. Manufacturers focused on creating the same designs they always have, en masse in China, can’t either. And by new consumer I don’t mean just the Millennials. I also mean the women my age (50s – 60s) who have changed right along with our young adult children, who often look at life very differently than we did when we were first starting out. The Jewelry is Out There Of course, artisan/designer jewelry is not new. It’s out there; online, in boutiques, in museum stores and specialty stores … and sometimes, in jewelry stores, though the list of jewelry stores that truly focus on artisan/designer jewelry is small. Everyone in the artisan/designer segment of the jewelry business shares the same list of about 200 stores that truly get how to sell artisan/designer jewelry. There are several thousand more jewelry stores offering personalization of jewelry through customization and/or original design, many of them using CAD. Still, as an industry we are doing a poor job of telling this story to consumers, so unless they stumble into the store or onto the website, they just don’t know how exciting, beautiful, meaningful, and relevant jewelry can be. Let’s Tell the Story of Artisan/Designer Jewelry The dairy industry suffered badly after the low-fat movement began. Suddenly, dairy was out due to a change in consumer values. The industry realized that it had to respond with a broader message, and they did, with “Milk. It does a body good.” As an industry, we should shift to talking about jewelry in terms of art. We should be talking about its hand-made aspects, and how exciting it is when we combine the newest technologies (CAD, scanning) with old-world techniques. We should be telling the stories of the people who make and design jewelry. Advertisement We must be investing in and committed to sustainability, protecting the environment and the communities dependent on mineral and metal extraction for a living. And then, when this aspect of our industry is authentic, we should be telling that story loud and clear. Am I suggesting one of the jewelry industry associations or magazines should step up and do this for us? No. I think they can play a role, an important role, but I believe that all of us — retailers, manufacturers, diamantaires, designers, consultants, everyone — need to embrace where consumers are now, get on board, and start telling a different story. Individuality is in. Social awareness and environmental stewardship are in. Thoughtful acquisition is in. Craftsmanship is in. Advertisement Stories are in. Artisan jewelry is in. Let’s all get out there and stay relevant. This article is an online extra for INSTORE Online. Related Topics: Andrea Hillinspirationjewelry designjewelry designers click to Comment(Comment) Up Next Edahn Golan: The Lab-Grown Consumer Numbers That You Need To Know Don't Miss Edahn Golan: Diamond Business Was Buzzing At Vegas Shows Andrea Hill Andrea Hill is owner of Hill Management Group, with three brands serving the jewelry industry. Learn more at hill-management.com. Continue Reading Advertisement SPONSORED VIDEO Wilkerson Testimonials Retirement Made Easy with Wilkerson The store was a landmark in Topeka, Kansas, but after 80 years in business, it was time for Briman’s Leading Jewelers to close up shop. Third generation jeweler and owner Rob Briman says the decision wasn’t easy, but the sale that followed was — all thanks to Wilkerson. Briman had decided a year prior to the summer 2020 sale that he wanted to retire. With a pandemic in full force, he had plenty of questions and concerns. “We had no real way to know if we were going to be successful or have a failure on our hands,” says Briman. “We didn’t know what to expect.” But with Wilkerson in charge, the experience was “fantastic” and now there’s plenty of time for relaxing and enjoying a more secure retirement. “I would recommend Wilkerson to any retailer considering a going-out-of-business sale,” says Briman. “They’ll help you reach your financial goal. Our experience was a tremendous success.” You may like COVID-19: Getting Back to Work — How to Produce Marketing Content That Works [Webinar Replay] Has the Jewelry Industry (Finally) Realized the Future is Female? Female Jewelry Store Owners Are Finding Strength in Numbers Promoted Headlines Digital Warrior: A Conversation with GemFind’s Alex Fetanat GemFind A Sales Meeting Platform for The 21st Century The Plumb Club With Average Retails of $250, This Is One Brand You Won’t Want to Miss! Chic Pistachio Advertisement Latest Trending Videos Press Releases5 hours ago Gembridge Announces Global Industry Ambassador Network Press Releases6 hours ago Christopher Designs Celebrates 40th Anniversary Press Releases1 day ago GJEPC Signs MoU with eBay Press Releases1 day ago Joseph Varjabedian Passed Away Due to COVID-19 Headlines2 days ago Signet to Raise Its Minimum Wage to $15/Hour Fun5 days ago 54 Funny Memes That Will Make You Say ‘Yup, That’s Life in Retail!’ Headlines3 weeks ago $5.8M in Fake Rolexes Seized in Cincinnati Photo Gallery3 weeks ago 19 Celebrities Show Off Their Stunning Engagement Rings [Updated] Headlines2 weeks ago Hawaii Jewelry Sellers Carjacked, Robbed of $200,000+ in Merchandise Headlines4 weeks ago Kendra Scott Steps Down as CEO of Jewelry Company She Founded Sponsored Content4 days ago Digital Warrior: A Conversation with GemFind’s Alex Fetanat Jimmy Degroot1 week ago Video: Sharpen Your Bridal Jewelry Presentations Sponsored Content1 week ago With Average Retails of $250, This Is One Brand You Won’t Want to Miss! Jimmy Degroot2 weeks ago Video: Maximize on the Opportunities That 2020 Brought the Jewelry Industry Category Spotlight3 weeks ago New Display Materials Help Merchandise GIA-Graded Diamond and Gemstones Advertisement Advertisement SubscribeBULLETINS INSTORE helps you become a better jeweler with the biggest daily news headlines and useful tips. (Mailed 5x per week.) Facebook Latest Comments Most Popular Fun5 days ago 54 Funny Memes That Will Make You Say ‘Yup, That’s Life in Retail!’ Headlines1 week ago Paris Hilton’s Engagement Ring May Be Worth $1M+ Headlines1 week ago $5.2M in Fake Cartier Jewelry Seized in Kentucky Headlines3 days ago Bergio Acquires Online Jewelry Retailer Aphrodite’s Benchmarks1 week ago These Jewelry Retailers Grab Shoppers’ Interest with Inventive Displays Hot Sellers1 week ago These Were the Top-Selling Jewelry Brands and Categories in January, According To Our Brain Squad Columns4 days ago 3 Tips to Becoming the Most Resilient Jewelry Store Owner You Know Sponsored Content1 week ago With Average Retails of $250, This Is One Brand You Won’t Want to Miss!