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Articles from GOLD JEWELLERY (662 Articles), FASHION JEWELLERY (289 Articles)

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Rolling with the punches

The new trend for lighter, finer gold jewellery is both an edict of the fashion industry and a necessary means of survival. NICK LORD reports.

The question has long been whether fashion dictates trends or whether it merely follows those that arise from prevailing market conditions.

Given the current situation for gold jewellery, it's a good time to investigate what effect the stratospheric cost of gold is having upon the design process and find out how jewellery designers are manipulating their output to maintain market share.

"Manufacturers are adapting to make lighter pieces to maintain the price point and keep turnover up," says Ian Tolkin, director of supplier Ausgold. "The strength of gold jewellery is that people really love to wear it. They love gold. So the challenge for manufacturers is to get trendy pieces at the right weight."

Such a challenge is pushing jewellery towards a look of "perceived weight", according to Tolkin.

"Obviously it's better to sell heavier pieces, it's more profitable that way, but it's possible to make an item that looks the same in 5 grams and 3.5 grams."

Monique Bond, director of New Zealand-based supplier House of Bond agrees that manufacturers are becoming more economical in their gold use, while still realising trends.

"There are several routes designers have taken to accommodate the impact of this change," she says. "The secret is how to balance the correct weight of gold; this requires a lot of expertise and involves creating bold, distinctive pieces that are light but show a lot of surface."

Ever-popular in European markets, Bond adds that wire is big again this season because it does just that - makes something out of nothing: "At OroArezzo recently, I saw a lot of modern filigree gold pendants and earrings as an attempt to combat this barrier."

Consumers are also turning back towards well-made staples: "All the stock-standard gold items - huggies, hoops and hook earrings, and gold rings - are selling because they're stable and have longevity," says John Michaelis, director, AM Imports, arguing that shoppers will always sacrifice style for serviceability in tight economic times. "People go looking for quality and longevity because the dispensable income is not there and they need to stop things breaking down. So if they're looking to wear gold earrings for 20 years, they might not necessarily need the latest pair."

Also arising from this need for longevity is a rise in two-tone and combination pieces. Merging either with gemstones, other metals or organic materials such as wood, such a move has been made assumedly to improve gold jewellery's "wardrobe flexibility".


"Some of our new best sellers are rings with a sporty look in yellow and white gold with diamonds," Bond says. "People are trying to achieve versatility and value for money, so they want pieces that look contemporary yet sit happily alongside their classic, inherited pieces."

This push for alternatives is, according to Michaelis, a naturally-occurring trend in times of higher prices.

"Gold with silver, coloured stones, silk cord, rubber neoprene and steel are just a few different alternatives allowing manufacturers to produce gold jewellery without the quantity of gold quantities it once had," he says. "I don't know whether this is fashion-driven or a product of cheaper manufacturing but alternatives always go up in popularity when other prices rise."

In colours, yellow gold is continuing its slow and steady comeback, two-tone pieces (particularly with rose gold) are gathering steam and white gold remains a resilient favourite.

"Across the board, white gold is very popular," Tolkin says, "but I'm also noticing a return to yellow gold. It's really quite a mixed market at the moment."

Bond agrees: "Yellow gold is still the main metal we use, but there has been a large increase in rose gold in last six months for all types of jewellery and white gold continues to be popular for some engagement styles."

Without a clear and present look for the season ahead, some suppliers are turning to innovation to reinspire consumers.

"We've had to reinvent ourselves in last eight months to be competitive in the market because it's just saturated with chains; everybody's doing it," says Annet Atakliyan, business development manager, Isaac Jewellery. "We are bringing in a branded, handmade chain and bracelet line in yellow, white and rose gold designed specifically to fill a gap in the market and not compete directly with anyone."

Others, like House of Bond, are pushing their unique point of difference over competitors to distance themselves from the glut of similar product pouring into the market.

"We have not consciously changed our designs," Bond says. "Our clients choose our product because they are tired of the homogenisation offered by major suppliers. Designs with supreme aesthetic will always find a place in the market."

And all are working to survive.










ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nick Lord
Contributing Editor • Jeweller Magazine

Nick Lord is Jeweller’s chief writer on matters concerning the precious metal and diamond markets. He is a former assistant editor and contributes articles on retail science and branding, and is a published novelist.
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