By October the spring season has well and truly sprung. The birds are chirping, flowers are blooming and clothing stores are filling shelves with the latest trend-driven pieces.
It’s a time of year when consumers retire their heavy winter wardrobes and go in search of fresh ways to revitalise their look but, as any astute jeweller would have observed, a change in weather doesn’t only affect the rag trade.Fashionistas are increasingly using jewellery to set new season tones, which means now is the perfect opportunity for retailers to examine their offering to ensure their pieces are meeting the standards of stylish customers.
According to Jacqui Ma, head of footwear and accessories for global trend forecasting service WGSN, jewellers should be considering simpler pieces this spring as she believes the “chunky” style jewellery that has dominated the market for years is losing favour to a less-is-more aesthetic.
“Over the last couple of seasons we have seen jewellery become smaller, finer, more delicate with a move away from the chunkier styles to the more personal, which tends to be more delicate,” she explains.
Ma’s comments are in tune with a recent article on Vogue.com.au that profiled the increased desire for finer-sized jewellery: “Lately, we’ve spotted more than a few Vogue staffers either wearing or surreptitiously browsing for delicate jewellery on their desktop. It got us thinking about whether everyone has ditched the statement piece (bib necklace, cocktail ring, ear cuff) in favour of layers of the finest chain necklaces, smallest stud earrings and most inconspicuous rings.”
It’s an approach that hasn’t gone unnoticed by local jewellery designers.
Tanja Kovacevic established her business Petite Grand in 2010 following a 15-year career in the fashion industry. Her collection is a mix of delicate bracelets, earrings, necklaces and rings.
“I think generally fashion has moved towards a more simple, clean and delicate look while still being strong and directional,” Kovacevic says of the recent shift in style.Australian-born jeweller Samantha Wills has also introduced a jewellery range known as the Fine collection that is rooted in subtlety. The decision to launch such a line is a good indication this is not some fleeting trend, given its aesthetic is dramatically different from the one that Wills typically employs.
The jewellery designer has built a strong following for statement pieces incorporating large coloured gemstones – A-list stars Nicole Ritchie, Kate Hudson, Pink and Beyonce are reportedly all fans – so the decision to develop a collection where a less-is-more mantra applies wasn’t taken lightly.
“I had wanted to do a fine collection for a long time but when I first saw fine making a big comeback in Europe a few years ago, I really struggled to see how the SW woman would wear fine – her style was so statement,” Wills explains. “I think my job as a creative director was to introduce the category as it is a long-term trend but invest in showing our existing customer how to wear fine and costume together.”
Another jeweller who is capitalising on this demand with her range of jewellery is Claire Aristides, whose eponymous line centres on a host of super-fine bracelets and necklaces.
While this restrained approach to adornment appears to be having a “fashion moment,” the Sydney-based jeweller who has previously worked for Swarovski and UK fashion brand Reiss says her inspiration comes from the emotive nature of jewellery rather than from following fashion industry trends.“Often my customer is buying a gift for a friend’s 21st, 40th or an anniversary present so the jewellery is incredibly sentimental and special,” Aristides explains.
“This is something I embrace and why I love what I do so much.” This sentiment might also lay further claim to Ma’s comment regarding a desire for jewellery that has a more personal connection to the wearer.
Other trends set to entice
When asked to summarise the key trends in her latest collection, Aristides nominates #armcandy and #ringstacking – that’s layering and stacking of bracelets and rings for the hashtag uninitiated.
Gold in all colours also plays a central role in the current range. Aristides says while rose gold is enormously popular, another trend lies in the mixing of the metal’s different colours: “People are wearing yellow with rose and some white gold; the rules have been broken.”
Taking the notion of mixing one step further is Carly Paiker, who operates her jewellery business of the same name.
“In our summer collection you will see a lot of mixed materials including stainless steel, hand-woven silk and cotton threads, semi precious druzy stones and crystal,” she explains.Paiker adds that the collection is full of extremes, ranging from “very chunky” statement cuffs and chokers to ultra-fine delicate pendants and rings.
A mix-and-match of styles and materials is a feature in one of the main trends identified by Maia Adams, co-director of global jewellery trend analysis and market intelligence agency Adorn Insight.
The trend, which Adams dubs “cultural fusion”, takes inspiration from the concept of the world being a global village and is characterised by an east-meets-west fusion of aesthetics.
“This is a real opportunity to explore mixed media solutions, even in fine jewellery. Think brightly-hued leather straps hung with precious metal charms,” she says, adding that key styles include the stacking of bangles in all materials, whether that be beaded, wrapped, printed or carved.
Adams also has advice that might prove useful during sales discussions: “Offer your customer solutions that allow her to tell a story about her life’s journeys, either physical or emotional. Collectibles, charms, motifs, medals and coins that reference different cultures all work well here.”
For consumers looking to inject glamour into their wardrobes, Adams predicts the “glam slam” trend will be another look popular for those in Australia. She says encapsulating the spirit of this “luxe-infused, ultra-feminine” trend is all about dainty florals, classic cuts and lashings of sparkle, whether this takes the form of cocktail rings, bejewelled bangles or long earrings in pendant and chandelier styles.
Materials including rose gold, white metals, yellow diamonds, morganite, opals and pearls are also expected to work well.Ma too notes that opals and pearls are among the key 2014 trends tracked by WGSN. “The popularity of pearls and opals have also indicated a fresh attraction to natural stones and semi-precious materials,” she says, making specific reference to how pearl jewellery has gained a new cache among the youth market following catwalk appearances by fashion brands like Chanel.
For the record, opal still appears to carry its long-held stigma in the local market despite its position as Australia’s national gemstone. As the international fashion circuit continues its fascination with the gemstone, however, is it only a matter of time before it’s finally accepted by consumers Down Under? Watch this space.
While it’s important to be able to acknowledge the hottest trends on the catwalk and anticipate what customers will demand, Ma has this last piece of advice for retailers: “On a final note, it is also important to consider the flow of trends and, if you are a retailer, your place in the market. For example, some jewellery trends such as neon, charm bracelets and friendship bands start on street level and work their way to higher-end brands.”
Social media is also proving to be a useful medium for tracking what’s hot in jewellery.
“We can talk about jewellery trends in terms of the smaller micro trend level, which is hugely influenced these days by social media, namely Pinterest and Tumblr,” Ma explains, adding that WGSN has started publishing forecasting reports like Top jewellery Instagrams that inspire and Top 5 wedding jewellery Pinterest accounts.
The takeaway here is that there’s now a myriad of ways to stay abreast of the jewellery styles set to sell in the coming season, whether that be international runways, trend reports, social media or by simply keeping an ear to the ground.
When it comes to sourcing inspiration and finding a new design aesthetic, the fashion jewellery category is undergoing some much-needed change. There are plenty of styles to suit varying tastes this season but it’s unanimous that the overarching look is here is the rise of delicate, barely there jewellery – a sector enjoying a resurgence that is anything but subtle.
The Finer things in life