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Jewellery Care














It's Personal: Defining Personalised Jewellery

The personalised jewellery category continues to evolve, and jewellers are questioning which pieces should and should not be included. As EMILY MOBBS discovers, it’s not easy to define.

A new year has dawned and one indisputable fact remains: the yearning for personalised product is as strong as ever. Consumers are demanding control of their buying destiny, placing a unique stamp on everything from Vegemite jars and Magnum ice creams to leather handbags and sneakers.

Jewellery has long been considered a personalised purchase. Once upon a time, all jewellery was bespoke – but in a climate of mass production and swelling product lines, retailers, suppliers and consumers could be forgiven for asking themselves what is personalised jewellery? Is it limited to custom-made pieces or does it include jewellery engraved with a personal message? Do items that allow consumers to customise with interchangeable elements fall under the personalised jewellery banner?

"Pandora tapped into the power of the ‘emotional connection’ by creating charms that represented a memory"

The matter is complex to say the least. To provide clarification, Jeweller suggested to a cross-section of local retailers and suppliers that personalised jewellery be defined as an item where the purchaser has input and control over, the final appearance and/or creation of the actual piece, not just the way it’s worn. Further to this, the category could be divided into five sub-categories or strands: customised, individualised, custom-made, one-of-a-kind and sentimental.

Asha Martin, founder of Life Cycle Urns, says she agrees with the definition and inclusion of the five sub-categories. Martin’s business specialises in the deeply personal product of cremation jewellery. The range includes cremation-urn pendants and charm beads designed to hold a keepsake such as dried flowers, a lock of hair or cremation ashes.

Martin believes it’s important to define the category and ensure the industry aligns itself with wider consumer perceptions.

Phil Edwards is managing director of Duraflex Group Australia, which distributes brands including Thomas Sabo, Nikki Lissoni and Engelsrufer. He too agrees with the definition, adding that providing clarification on this broad sector assists in managing consumer expectations.

Redefining the category
Duraflex Group Australia
Duraflex Group Australia

Not surprisingly, there is a unanimous belief among the jewellers and suppliers contacted that being aware of and sensitive to customer perceptions is a critical component of success in the sector; however, not everyone is in agreement about what constitutes personalised jewellery.

Several suppliers contended the inclusion of the one-of-a-kind category, whereby a wearer has no involvement in the design of a piece but is nevertheless a personal purchase, because of its unique and often irreplaceable qualities.

“While one-of-a-kind pieces are undoubtedly unique, often the wearer has no input into the creation or appearance of the product, which is the essence of personalisation,” Les Georgettes vice president Frederic Brunel-Acquaviva says.

Life Cycle Urns
Life Cycle Urns

“The DNA of Les Georgettes is that the wearer is actively involved in the piece’s creation, which they can continuously transform with interchangeable elements,” he explains of the range that offers metal jewellery with reversible and interchangeable colourful-band insets.

“With Les Georgettes, it is possible to unknowingly create one-of-a-kind pieces yet this is secondary to the personalisation of the jewellery.”

Love Lockets marketing and brand manager, Hayley Birtles-Eades expresses similar sentiments.

“One-of-a-kind is not personalised, especially if the completed piece does not have the ability to change at will,” she states, adding, “This obviously doesn’t apply to custom-made pieces that have been personally designed or requested by the purchaser.”

JLM International
JLM International

In addition, Birtles-Eades believes ‘wholesale custom’ should be included under the personalised jewellery banner.

“Wholesale custom is defined as allowing the wholesalers [suppliers] to custom-build the brand representation in-store, choosing the collections that they believe will speak to their retail customers,” she explains.

Birtles-Eades is not the only respondent to suggest additional sub-categories and products. Alessandro Gensini, marketing manager of Nomination Italy, which is distributed locally by Timesupply, proposes the ‘life bracelet’.

Gensini says this new sub-category reflects the brand’s Composable bracelet made of a series of interchangeable links.

Love in a Jewel
Love in a Jewel

“We always say Composable is jewellery for the entire life as the wearer can start their bracelet as a child and continue to add links throughout their whole life,” Gensini explains. “These are links that tell your passions, your love, your family, your goals, etc. It’s a ‘life’ bracelet, if you can call it this .”

Phillip Schmidt from Platinumsmith produces custom-made pieces and while he says the descriptions sound realistic, he is concerned that overuse of the term personalised jewellery is having a negative effect.

“Given the hunger of big companies to create market value, it seems any term that is in vogue is going to be bastardised and eventually redundant,” Schmidt states. “That is, any term that worked well for artisan jewellers – you can give up on ‘artisan’ too – will be good when it is used by the highly skilled makers, and then become a thorn in our sides soon after when the money players take it from us and market their class of offering the same way and thus make us look very bad.”

Nomination
Nomination

Further to this, Tracy van Oostrum questions whether certain products deserve the personalised jewellery classification. Van Oostrum is co-founder of Love in a Jewel, which specialises in pendants containing a personalised message that is permanently sealed before being given to the wearer.

“Pandora tapped into the power of the ‘emotional connection’ by creating charms that represented a memory; however, this is really just millions of people wearing the same charms,” van Oostrum says.

It’s a conundrum that has existed in the industry for years: is a charm bracelet or necklace constructed from mass-produced components an example of personalised jewellery?

Les Georgettes
Les Georgettes

“Jewellery such as charms, inscribed pendants and lockets that hold crystals bring a perception of ‘custom-made’ jewellery to the masses,” van Oostrum continues. “People who perhaps cannot afford a bespoke piece can have a similar feeling with an item where they can choose elements of it or adapt it to how they want it.

“Love in a Jewel is taking personalised jewellery to the next level. This is not a generic ‘personalised’ symbol that thousands of other people are wearing; this is real personal love inside a beautiful pendant forever.”

She concludes that there might only be two categories: the perception of personalised jewellery and actual personalised jewellery.

Crossing borders
Platinumsmith
Platinumsmith

In analysing such a broad category at a time when consumer expectations are undergoing significant change, it becomes apparent that some items may not fit neatly into one sub-category.

“Just as the line between fine and fashion jewellery has blurred over the years, so have the strands of personalised jewellery,” Brunel- Acquaviva says, adding that Les Georgettes continues to imagine new ways to expand the hybrid concept of custom-made and customisable jewellery.

“Les Georgettes is a pioneer in this respect due to mixing together different strands of personalisation,” he states. “Firstly, customers can create their own piece to match their personal style with their jewellery size, design and finish of choice. This creation can then be combined with customisable elements such as interchangeable, reversible coloured bands for infinite style possibilities, thus transforming their piece of jewellery time and time again.”

Love Lockets
Love Lockets

Gensini believes that the Composable collection also crosses several sub-categories. In addition to being customised, he explains the range is also individualised as the latest offering consists of double links with gold, rose gold or silver plaquettes that can be engraved.

“Composable is also sentimental jewellery,” Gensini continues. “Our links with zodiac signs, birthstones, initials and numbers allow the wearer to communicate the emotions and values of the people who wear it.”

Similarly, Jodie Tilia, director of JLM International, which distributes Dyrberg Kern, believes the brand’s Compliments range falls under numerous strands.

“This range is a ‘design your own ring’ concept that fits both the customised and sentimental categories,” she explains, adding, “The offering consists of interchangeable ring toppers with accompanying sentiments such as ‘freedom’, ‘love’ and ‘strength’.”

Meeting customer needs
Love in a Jewel
Love in a Jewel

Does Tilia agree with the proposed definition?

“Yes, but with the added dimension to the ‘umbrella’ concept of personalised jewellery as something that provides insight and background into the person’s character, as you state in the sentimental strand. We see this as the shared motive behind all five categories,” she says, reiterating the importance of understanding and meeting customer expectations.

“Dyrberg Kern wants to dig deeper, to understand what it is the consumer wants with personalised jewellery,” Tilia explains.

She adds that the Danish brand identifies an increasing trend towards the conscious consumer, one that is mindful about how a purchase reflects on their public persona.

Style Rocks
Style Rocks

“It is no longer enough to only be ‘on trend’ or merely ‘political’; you need to also tell a specific story with the conscious choices,” Tilia continues. “In other words, standing out from the crowd, but preferably within a given set of invisible rules –probably set by brands, marketers, influencers and other commercial stakeholders. This is where personalised jewellery fits like a glove.”

Brunel-Acquaviva says the industry can only define this category to an extent because it is ever evolving to meet consumer demands.

“We at Les Georgettes engage in a dialogue with our customer to continually add more ways to personalise their jewellery and accessories,” he states. “Instead of setting limitations, we constantly interact with our clients, letting them define the ways in which personalisation as a category evolves.”

JLM International
JLM International

According to StyleRocks founder Pascale Helyar-Moray, the industry definition of personalised jewellery doesn’t always align with the one held by consumers.

“For us at StyleRocks particularly, while our elements aren’t interchangeable, we do offer the ability to choose a jewellery ‘template’, and then tweak it by metal, gemstone, pearl colour, etc,” she explains. “Additionally, each of our pieces is made for each order so, going by Jeweller’s definitions, we offer custom-made, customised jewellery; however, in the eyes of the consumer, we are simply offering custom jewellery.”

Further, Helyar-Moray suggests that personalised should not be the overriding ‘umbrella’ category but rather another sub-category.

Duraflex
Duraflex

“The average consumer thinks of personalised as falling under the individualised category,” she says, adding, “I do think personalised should be its own sub-category, alongside sentimental, custom-made and so on.”

With this in mind, Helyar-Moray says she would change the name of the individualised strand to ‘DNA’ and amend the definition so that it only included jewellery with unique features like fingerprints and photographs.

The new personalised sub-category would then be defined as jewellery made unique by the addition of name engraving, initials engraving or a personal message, according to Helyar-Moray: “If we now accept that we have six sub-categories then perhaps the umbrella category is that of ‘personality jewellery’?”

Love in a Jewel’s van Oostrum isn’t even sure the sector needs to be defined by categories, and says it might be more interesting to ask the bigger question of why personalised jewellery of all shapes and sizes is becoming so popular.

Nomination
Nomination

“Is it because there is a subconscious need in such a throw-away society to own things that actually matter? Is it because consumers want more control or is personalised jewellery so popular because love and precious memories never go out of fashion?”

It’s never going to be easy to reach a conclusive agreement on a product category that was borne out of design and creativity, but is today exploited by savvy marketers. Perhaps rather than developing a one-size-fits-all definition, the important task is to ensure that salespeople understand the customers’ perceptions of personalised jewellery and use wording that aligns accordingly.

In this regard, at least the sales experience will be as personal as the jewellery.

 

Personalised jewellery

To provide clarification on this ever-evolving category, Jeweller has developed its own definition of personalised jewellery and sought the views of local retailers and suppliers.

Style Rocks
Style Rocks

According to Jeweller, personalised jewellery can be divided into five sub-categories:


1. Customised

Jewellery that allows the wearer to customise a piece and separate components to their own style using a selection of interchangeable elements (beads, charms, interchangeable rings and more). While the interchangeable elements are often manufactured on a large scale, the wearer will create and customise their own combination, which can signify milestones or simply represent individual taste/style. This means no two jewellery items will be the same.

.................................................................................................................................

2. Individualised

Jewellery that allows the purchaser to add a unique feature to their piece, such as name engraving, personal message, fingerprint, photograph or even DNA, that ties it forever to the individual.

......................................................................................................

3. Custom-made

Unique, custom-made jewellery which allows the wearer to dictate the exact specifications of a piece, from the selection of metal and design to the choice of gemstones. The items are made-to-order by manufacturing jewellers, based on a customer’s request and input.

............................................................................................

4. One-of-a-kind

This is an interesting and growing segment of the market. It differs from the above three sub-categories in that the wearer has no involvement in the piece’s creation or final appearance; however, the item is one-of-a-kind because it consists of at least one unique element that differentiates it from any other existing piece. The purchaser is therefore selecting a ‘personalised’ product that is unique and irreplaceable.

.........................................................................................................................

5. Sentimental

This jewellery provides insight and background into a person’s character but, like the above sub-category, the wearer has no involvement in the piece’s creation or final appearance. Examples include star sign and birthstone jewellery.

 

GALLERY

Duraflex Group Australia
Duraflex Group Australia
Life Cycle Urns
Life Cycle Urns

JLM International
JLM International
Love in a Jewel
Love in a Jewel

Nomination
Nomination
Les Georgettes
Les Georgettes

Platinumsmith
Platinumsmith
Love Lockets
Love Lockets

Love in a Jewel
Love in a Jewel
Style Rocks
Style Rocks

JLM International
JLM International
Duraflex
Duraflex

Nomination
Nomination
Style Rocks
Style Rocks












ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Emily Mobbs • Editor

Emily Mobbs is editor of Jeweller . She has more than 8 years' experience in trade publishing and reports on various aspects of the jewellery industry.









Friday, 20 July, 2018 07:15am
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