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Pearls














The Resurgence of Pearls

The word is out: the timeless pearl has had a serious fashion transformation. TALIA PAZ reports on the latest trends set to emerge within the pearl-jewellery category this year.

US fashion bible Vogue got it right when it recently declared that the classic pearl had returned with a modern twist.

Recent international catwalks have featured models sashaying down the runways with pearls adorning anklets, hair pieces and pendants, pushing the gem further away from its traditional, old-fashioned status and propelling its modern iterations towards the spotlight.

"Long gone are the days of traditional twinsets and pearls. Today, pearls can be modern, youthful and cool."

High-profile designers are bursting at the seams with fresh offerings, and retailers and suppliers are taking notice by re-inventing the pearl as a fashion-forward staple.

“Long gone are the days of traditional twinsets and pearls,” says Roselee Modica, head designer of Australian jewellery brand Jan Logan.

“Today, pearls can be modern, youthful and cool. They continue to have a timeless appeal and an ageless charm; however, new design techniques have really pushed the boundaries in terms of what we can do with the material.”

New vibes

Justin Linney is the creative director of Linneys, a Perth-based retailer known for South Sea pearls. According to Linney, “modern and minimalist” pearl jewellery designs will be all the rage this year.

Allure South Sea Pearls
Allure South Sea Pearls

“For the last few years we have seen pearls in the fashion spotlight and this is translating into fine jewellery design,” Linney says. “Women want to look good while feeling comfortable so the ‘effortless style’ is in fashion at the moment. We have also seen many of our clients layering jewellery. Rather than wearing one pendant, some people wear two or three and challenge the ways that pearl jewellery is normally worn.”

Gretchen Wainscott, who is the director of Firucci, a family-owned business specialising in jewellery sourced from Europe, states that metals mixed with pearls will also create a “modern, trendier style” this season.

“There are a lot of geometric motifs – think circles and squares – mixed with pearls to create some interesting earrings, which is an exciting change to classic hook or stud styles,” Wainscott explains. “Yellow gold is also set to make a comeback after the past three to four years of rose gold being on trend.”

Ikecho
Ikecho

Pearls for Girls is a pearl retailer based in Noosa Heads, Queensland. When asked about the pearl jewellery trends expected to take centre stage this year, co-founder David Parker notes that the local market’s penchant for carefree designs will more than likely influence style choices.

“The Australian market enjoys simplicity in design,” Parker says, adding, “Much of our customer base is from country Australia. These women like designs that can be worn in the heat and with collared shirts. Many city customers also enjoy functional jewellery to suit our climate and design needs.

“On the whole, simple designs and larger pearls are popular. I think freshwater pearls will continue to dominate, due to affordability, and the incredible variety of pearl shapes the Chinese producers can offer us as jewellery designers.”

Atlas Pearls
Atlas Pearls

Atlas Pearls specialises in the supply of South Sea pearls to the local and international market, and managing director Pierre Fallourd is also optimistic about the gem’s reinvention which is expected to stay fresh in the year ahead.

“Both silver and white South Sea pearls and Tahitians are in vogue, and we will see many baroque pearls return to favour,” Fallourd says. “Earrings and pendants are and will remain the most popular categories, but we are seeing an emerging trend in unique strands. The variety of South Sea pearls allows the creation of unusually matched strands combining different pearl shapes and size graduation, making each strand a signature piece.”

Modica explains that creative pearl choices will rise in popularity in 2018, noting that Jan Logan recently launched a collection that focuses on South Sea baroque pearls offset with coloured precious gemstones in statement earrings, pendants, rings and chokers.

Firucci
Firucci

“Trends come and go but I think pearls have this allure of being timeless,” she adds. “I definitely think pearls have fashion relevance in today’s jewellery landscape, and will continue to be a popular choice. In saying that, I think the new and creative use of pearls is something we are seeing more of.”

Speaking of new and creative uses of pearls, there’s been displays of just that paraded on the international stage. According to Wainscott, this is an advantage to the industry in Australia.

“I love seeing the amazing work that comes out of the Paris haute couture shows, as this is a very influential aspect on international fashion trends and colour forecasting for the coming year,” Wainscott says.

“Gucci did some great pearl embellishments throughout its accessories collection this year on bags, shoes, and trainers. I think these will really help bring pearls into everyday wear and to a wider age group, rather than as a special occasion piece which was traditionally worn by a more mature market.”

 Weighing in on the pearl trends domination the local market

“Women want to look good while feeling comfortable so the ‘effortless style’ is in fashion at the moment. We have also seen many of our clients layering jewellery. Rather than wearing one pendant, some people wear two or three and challenge the ways that pearl jewellery is normally worn.”

Justin Linney, Linneys

“There are a lot of geometric motifs – think circles and squares – mixed with pearls to create some interesting earrings, which is an exciting change to classic hook or stud styles. Yellow gold is also set to make a comeback after the past three to four years of rose gold being on trend.”

Gretchen Wainscott, Firucci

“Earrings and pendants are and will remain the most popular categories but we are seeing an emerging trend in unique strands. The variety of South Sea pearls allows the creation of unusually matched strands combining different pearl shapes and size graduation, making each strand a signature piece.”


Pierre Fallourd, Atlas Pearls

Market shifts
Linneys
Linneys

When reviewing recent market changes, there appears to be consensus that the developments have benefited suppliers and retailers selling pearl jewellery.

Fallourd states that the supply of freshwater pearls has significantly decreased, following the implementation of new Chinese regulations geared towards the production and exportation of better quality products.

“This is a move acknowledged by the whole industry as a positive effort to better manage supply and demand,” Fallourd explains. “It will result in better products becoming available at retail level, and an improved appreciation of pearls as a jewellery category.”

Pearls for girls
Pearls for girls

The prevalence of the Chinese baroque pearl has also impacted the local market and Parker adds that retailers would do well to provide “original, affordable designs using these pearls”.

Lindsay Youd, managing director of Western Australian-based Allure South Sea Pearls, points to an increasing preference for gold and black pearls as a major market change.

“We’ve seen a much stronger demand in the marketplace for intense gold pearls that only seems to be increasing in the tourism industry,” he says. “We’ve also become aware that the keen interest in black pearls has been reignited throughout Australia.”

The second coming

As New Zealand fashion and jewellery designer Karen Walker, whose jewellery is distributed locally by Worth & Douglas, eloquently explained in a 2017 interview with the Australian Financial Review, Millennials and Gen Zs are the generations who have “not experienced pearls as a modern piece in their wardrobe”.

Jan Logan
Jan Logan

Consequently, there are opportunities abound for retailers who want these younger and more influential generations to invest in pearls.

Youd notes that working with “a host of social media influencers” is an integral part of Allure’s plan to market its pearl offering to Millennials and Gen Z.

“[These social media influencers] develop ongoing content for Allure and we work with them as part of unique collaborations,” Youd explains.

“Working with social influencers in the fashion and lifestyle space allows us to make pearls far more accessible to a much younger generation.”

Allure South Sea Pearls
Allure South Sea Pearls

Fallourd agrees, stating that a strong digital strategy that includes the use of ambassadors is “pivotal” in order to connect pearls with younger customers.

“We regularly adjust our website features and constantly update our social media approach, both directly and through digital ambassadors,” he says, adding, “We recently added short videos featuring our brand ambassadors in an immersive pearl farm experience in Indonesia to reinforce the importance of the story behind the pearls.”

Educating those within the Millennial and Gen Z sphere is also a strategy that can help retailers to capitalise on increased pearl sales. As Modica explains, staff should go out of their way to educate the younger generations on the techniques and history behind each pearl.

Firucci
Firucci

“Unique and modern design is extremely important in showcasing the allure of the pearl to the younger generation, along with educating them on how we source our pearls and what that process involves,” she tells Jeweller.

It’s not just a case of how retailers should be capitalising on the strength of their younger customers, it’s also important to take note of what designs these generations have thus far embraced.

Linney notes that pearl rings, chokers and traditional-turned-chic stud earrings are some of the trends at the forefront:

“We have noticed Gen Z’s visiting our showrooms and requesting a wide variety of designs. Some examples of this are simple pearl rings on thin bands, creating a modern and simplistic look. Another trend we have seen emerging and expect to continue in 2018 is pearl chokers.”

Atlas Pearls
Atlas Pearls

However, Linney believes the most popular type of pearl jewellery with the younger generation is pearl stud earrings.

“I have noticed the demand for pearl studs increasing as pearls have been used more on fashion runways, therefore educating the younger generation that pearls aren’t just for their parents and grandparents,” he explains, adding, “We hope to see the demand for pearls continue to be strong as the awareness of pearls in the younger market increases.”

So many choices, so little time

According to Youd, the global trend of personalisation that shows no sign of slowing any time soon has also influenced consumer choices when it comes to pearl jewellery.

Allure South Sea Pearls
Allure South Sea Pearls

“Our customers are now more than ever enjoying the opportunity to customise their most-treasured pieces of jewellery; we give them the chance to choose their pearl and gold colour, which works to create a piece truly unique to the wearer,” Youd explains.

Fallourd has similar sentiments, noting that although customers have maintained a “desire for quality silver and white South Sea pearl jewellery,” preferences for limited-edition luxury items and personalised pearl jewellery will continue coming to the forefront.

“Atlas pearls with yellow and white gold settings remain a popular choice; taste is definitely moving towards limited-edition luxury items,” Fallourd adds.

Wainscott comments that evolving consumer preferences dictate a penchant for unique pieces.

Atlas Pearls
Atlas Pearls

“We have found that our clients want unusual pieces that you can’t find everywhere. There is a lot of mass-market jewellery around now, and being able to offer new, exciting designs that aren’t in every store window appeals to a discerning consumer,” she concludes.

The pearl renaissance doesn’t seem to be quieting down as consumers seek unique design options and modern interpretations of the classic pearl.

Retailers would do well to capitalise on this demand by paying attention to the gem that is inspiring some of the most influential jewellery trends in 2018.

Greater for Aussie pearls


It was announced in September 2017 that Australian South Sea pearls had been certified sustainable by the independent ‘gold standard’ Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

Linneys
Linneys

The South Sea pearl industry of Western Australia and the Northern Territory received certification after an 18-month assessment and represented the first time a wild pearl fishery achieved MSC accreditation.

This certification enables Australian South Sea pearl producers to use the MSC eco-label on pearls sourced from the wild Pinctada maxima pearl oyster fishery, providing potential marketing opportunities for suppliers and retailers.

MSC program director oceania Anne Gabriel told Jeweller that the West Australian pearl fishery and MSC are working to establish a new chain of custody process for pearls to be used in jewellery, to ensure traceability.

“We know there is an increasing consumer expectation for businesses to incorporate sustainability into operations and services across a multitude of industries, jewellery included,” Gabriel said, adding, “However, as this is the first non-consumable seafood product to achieve MSC certification, the NGO is working in uncharted territory in the development of the pearl traceability standard.”

When speaking with Jeweller in September last year, Pearl Producers Association executive director Aaron Irving said that pearl suppliers and jewellery retailers wishing to use the MSC eco-label were required to apply for chain of custody certification via the organisation.

The MSC is a London-based international non-profit organisation founded in 1996. Its eco-label and certification program recognises and rewards sustainable fishing practices.


GALLERY

Allure South Sea Pearls
Allure South Sea Pearls
Ikecho
Ikecho

Atlas Pearls
Atlas Pearls
Firucci
Firucci

Linneys
Linneys
Pearls for girls
Pearls for girls

Jan Logan
Jan Logan
Allure South Sea Pearls
Allure South Sea Pearls

Firucci
Firucci
Atlas Pearls
Atlas Pearls

Allure South Sea Pearls
Allure South Sea Pearls
Atlas Pearls
Atlas Pearls

Linneys
Linneys












ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Talia Paz • Staff Journalist

Talia Paz is a staff journalist for Jeweller, and has more than three years' experience as a freelance journalist for national and international publications, covering a wide range of industries.









Friday, 20 July, 2018 07:16am
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