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Articles from MEN'S JEWELLERY (162 Articles), STAINLESS STEEL JEWELLERY (156 Articles)










Jewellery DPI
Jewellery DPI

Steel jewellery sets news trends

Stainless steel is no longer just at the budget end of jewellery and purely aimed at men. These days it offers consumers a wide choice and jewellers an ideal point of difference. Dean Millard looks at the latest trends in the new age of steel.
Kagi
Kagi
Seivers
Seivers
Cudworth
Cudworth
Tuskc
Tuskc

They say diamonds last forever. Well, so does stainless steel. It’s interesting that some of the key selling points of “the hero” of the jewellery industry, diamond’s durability and timelessness, are also the same points that were used to deride stainless steel jewellery. All of this, however, is now changing.

Since emerging as a low-cost material ideal for fuelling a trend for youth jewellery in the 1980s, stainless steel has always been on the periphery of the mainstream jewellery market, finding a foothold mainly with bracelets and watches in the teen and male markets.

Advancements in the composition of stainless steel and the design quality of its pieces are two factors attributed with steel’s significant rise in popularity, as is the fact that the teenagers who loved steel as an adornment 20 years ago are still loving it now that they’ve all grown up. What’s more, they’re now joined by a new batch of kids even more open to expressing themselves with jewellery.

Jewellery DPI sales and marketing manager Brett Kidman says there is no doubt the industry is starting to wake up to what stainless steel has to offer.

“Over the past few years, stainless steel jewellery has started to gain more popularity as retailers and consumers begin to understand what it is and what it has to offer,” Kidman says. “The once undesirable metal is becoming the material-of-choice to many jewellery designers nowadays. Stainless steel is a durable alloy that doesn’t require a large amount of maintenance and because of that you can wear stainless steel jewellery as much as you want without having to worry about wear and tear – it won’t rust or tarnish either.”

Money talks
Stainless steel jewellery offers retailers a handful of advantages, particularly at a time when consumers are looking for ways to cut down on discretionary spending.

Comparatively cheap when compared to the mainstay metals of the jewellery industry, silver and gold, stainless steel products allow retailers to offer a greater spread of price ranges while still maintaining items of good quality and durability. Given the levels that both gold and silver have risen to over the past year, stainless steel’s lower price range offers significant appeal.

The element that stainless steel perhaps competes against most is silver and, as Kagi designer and founder Kat Gee states, the strengths of stainless steel stack up very well. “Stainless steel offers better prices, increased durability, it is resistant to tarnishing, and hypoallergenic,” Gee says. “Stainless steel is truly a super metal! It also looks very similar to silver yet is a much more affordable option. In my opinion, silver just can’t compete in this changing market.”

Seivers Australia marketing manager Elisha Seiver says the lower price of producing stainless steel jewellery not only attracts the consumers, but it also gives retailers something to work with.

“A major advantage of stainless steel is its lower cost compared with precious metals,” Seiver says. “It can be offered at a lower price point than precious metals, which allows higher retail margins.”

Silver has traditionally been held as the leading option for less expensive, white metal jewellery; however, according to Gee, stainless steel’s ability to maintain a crisp, clean look for longer and without any maintenance is proving to be very appealing to consumers.

“Customers love the fact that stainless steel looks like silver yet is cheaper and much more resistant,” Gee says, adding that her first priority is designing for the women who wear her brand so if they are demanding jewellery that was durable and required little maintenance, working with stainless steel helped meet that demand.

Expanding variety
While price is an obvious weapon in stainless steel’s arsenal, it is when this is coupled with some of its other strengths that it begins to deliver some ?strong combinations.

Tuskc jewellery and accessories designer Laura Maddison says stainless steel allows her to create ranges that were convertible and appealed to the fashion forward lifestyles of Tuskc’s target audience.

“It is essential that the jewellery designs be convertible, ultra wearable and made from versatile, resilient and affordable materials,” Maddison says. “It is for these reasons that Tuskc jewellery is made from one of the most exciting metals to arrive on the international jewellery stage – stainless steel.”

Maddison adds that the constant developments in technology and production methods are allowing her a constantly-expanding scope to work into her designs. “Designs can be much more experimental, responding to style trends and introducing innovative ideas. As stainless steel is such an adaptable material, a wider variety of styles are achievable at affordable price points.”

Seiver agrees, saying the strength of stainless steel allows for intricate designs that are less susceptible to breakage. “Stainless steel is very hard wearing, which gives the jewellery longevity,” Seiver says. “The use of stainless steel instead of a precious metal means a jewellery piece can be intricate and spectacular but still affordable. That is a huge plus for consumers.”

Target the future today
When stainless steel jewellery first started to get a foothold during the 1980s, the market was predominately younger males looking for a tough, masculine and industrial image, which was what stainless steel provided to them at the time.

These same consumers have grown with the developments of stainless steel jewellery and are now quite possibly a key reason why stainless steel is enjoying success across a broadening demographic.

That said the attractive pricing of stainless steel jewellery is still quite appealing to the youth market and many suppliers will happily tell you this is where a large part of the market for their product still lies. Retailers should be pleased: stainless steel is effectively giving them a meet and greet opportunity with customers who will likely be making their first “big occasion” jewellery purchases in the coming few years. While the income from each steel sale may not be high, it gives the staff a chance to start building a relationship with young buyers who might end up being long term customers.

Seiver says there is little question about whether or not the youth market is supporting the market: “The youth market is definitely having an impact in this space due to the price points. A lower price point makes stainless steel jewellery affordable to this market and is driving demand; however, we also find that stainless steel is appealing to all age groups as consumers are interested in more than just precious metals.”

Not just a man’s world
What is perhaps most encouraging for retailers looking to stock stainless steel, and for designers working with it, is that the steel market appears to ?be broadening.

Cudworth director Darren Roberts has seen stainless steel designs prove to be very popular with the younger male market over the past decade; however, he now sees it as much more than a purely-masculine material.

“We have been working with stainless steel now for nearly 10 years and definitely the range and choice has grown,” Roberts says. “Rings especially have seen a growth in the market and more women are embracing steel than a few years ago.”

Roberts believes the ability to offer a greater range of colours in stainless steel through IP [ion plating] and the rising cost of silver is also helping to expand stainless steel’s reach into the women’s jewellery market. Ion plating means stainless steel is now a cheap alternative to a much greater range of materials than just similarly-coloured silver.

Tuskc is currently working with this and other forms of physical vapour deposition (PVD) to apply a range of different metal compounds to stainless steel and getting great results. “It increases the life expectancy of the steel itself by increasing the resilience of the surface, and so reducing the wear of the jewellery,” Maddison explains.

“For the retailer, this means a better quality product that will stand the test of time, leading to fewer customer returns and increased consumer loyalty. With the introduction of new finishes, steel collections now have more to offer in terms of variety, encouraging repeat purchase.

“Our rose gold and gold styles that utilise this new technology are particularly popular with consumers,” Maddison continues. “Genuine 14-carat gold is bonded to the steel surface to produce a flawless finish that could easily be confused with real gold items. For the consumer, it is a great deal – they can get the look they want without breaking the bank.”

Maddison agrees with Roberts that the market for stainless steel jewellery is expanding beyond the young male demographic, saying Tuskc’s key consumer age brackets currently stretched from 25 to 55 in both men and women.

“An increasing number of women of all ages are embracing stainless steel jewellery,” Maddison says. “By maintaining a good relationship with manufacturers, Tuskc has been able to develop designs that reveal the softer, more feminine side of stainless steel. The new Entwined collection demonstrates the pliability of steel. The collection is delicate in style while still achieving the statement look that is fundamental to the brand identity.”

Maddison says sales in men’s jewellery are also rising, both in the traditional stainless steel pieces such as classically-styled rings and bracelets, as well as antique-styled grey pieces.

“The styles themselves are very traditional but it is the clever application of a new technique that has demanded attention.”

Aside from advancements in PVD, one of the other big steps forward for stainless steel that has helped it become a more fashionable medium for jewellery has been the move to casting in production. In the early days stainless steel jewellery was stamped, which severely limited the range of products that could be created, but Seiver says the level of detail and finesse that is possible is much greater now that pieces are being cast.

“When stainless steel jewellery was stamped, it limited how the metal was used,” Seiver says. “Now stainless steel is being cast, we are seeing more interesting and intricate pieces.” Despite this, she says bracelets still remain the most popular type of men’s jewellery being sold in stainless steel.

Design trumps composition
Aside from stainless steel, there are other metals starting to find traction in the market. DPI Jewellery is currently working with tungsten steel, which is proving particularly popular in rings, according to Kidman.

“I would have to say these are just as popular if not more popular then the stainless steel rings,” Kidman says. “This is due to the fact that tungsten is four times harder than any other metal currently used to manufacture jewellery and is almost indestructible and scratchproof.”

A shift in the general perception of what makes good jewellery is another key factor in why both tungsten and stainless steel are growing in popularity.

Where previously the quality of the gold was almost as important as the design in many consumers’ decisions, it now appears that equal value is being seen in an item’s features and durability.

“An important factor to note is that consumers aren’t necessarily consciously seeking out stainless steel,” Seiver says. “In our experience, it is usually the quality, design and price of the piece that attracts the consumer. The metal used in the piece is often not something the consumer queries, and it isn’t something that deters them from the purchase.”

In a time when consumers are looking for more value for money, stainless steel could just add that little something extra to a store’s stock, ensuring there really is something for everyone.

DPI
DPI

They say diamonds last forever. Well, so does stainless steel. It’s interesting that some of the key selling points of “the hero” of the jewellery industry, diamond’s durability and timelessness, are also the same points that were used to deride stainless steel jewellery. All of this, however, is now changing.

Since emerging as a low-cost material ideal for fuelling a trend for youth jewellery in the 1980s, stainless steel has always been on the periphery of the mainstream jewellery market, finding a foothold mainly with bracelets and watches in the teen and male markets.

Advancements in the composition of stainless steel and the design qu

Morris and Watson
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