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Take a chance on me

The time is right for jewellery retailers to showcase the innovation of Australian designers and suppliers, according to CIARA RYAN of Pastiche.

I have a gift. It's the uncanny ability to spot stunning jewellery on other people. Not so remarkable? Well, my unique talent has lead me to a revelation - I have never made reference to a piece of jewellery on a passer-by without hearing, "Oh, this? I got it overseas," or a somewhat similar response. Is the Australian jewellery industry too conservative when it comes to embracing new ideas and novel materials?

The diversity and innovation in international jewellery markets, especially Europe, highlights the current state of the Australian aesthetic, and one must question our comparative difference.

The Australian consumer aims to emphasise individuality and differentiate personal preference in every facet of daily life, and seeks out unique products in order to do so. Customised mobile ringtones, iPod cases and personalised fashion items act as a means to establish individual preference and distinctive style.

The recent success of charms and beads in the jewellery industry serves to confirm this notion. Consumers have finally been presented with a new concept that allows their own unique, personal expression and they're simply lapping it up.

If retailers were willing to take more chances in selecting their product ranges, they'd be surprised with the result.

One of the great Australian design success stories is that of Dinosaur Designs. More than 20 years ago, three young designers took a significant risk and presented the Australian public with a completely different visual aesthetic - jewellery pieces made from an undervalued and underestimated material.

These resin creations virtually reinvented the medium and established the distinctive Australian character that globally distinguishes Dinosaur Designs.

Retailers must not to stifle creative potential as a result of limited foresight and narrow perspective. Are we unwilling to test new trends? The fashion industry just about falls over itself to come up with the next best thing but the jewellery industry lags behind.

I recently walked into a jewellery store displaying some of our women's stainless steel pendants. While the display was bold and striking, I couldn't help but cringe at the supporting material featured in the cabinet. The products were displayed beside an information card citing all the benefits and features of... silver! There was no clear identifier to let the customer know that the pendants were actually made of steel - a reasonably priced, non-tarnishing, light, non-allergenic, beautiful, modern product.

Steel has only recently been introduced in the women's jewellery market and retailers are shooting themselves in the feet by failing to educate the consumer about its relative features and benefits.

The onus rests on manufacturers and wholesalers to uncover new materials, styles and designs in order to present their customers with original, ground-breaking products. They also have the responsibility to inform and support their retailers in this process.

Product information cards and adequate communication with regard to product advance and presentation would do wonders to help inform retailers of new trends and developments.

Retailers and salespeople in turn should have the wherewithal to know their product well enough to educate and excite consumers with the introduction of new concepts and ideas.

By working together, we have the capacity to change the face of the Australian jewellery industry and make way for creative diversity, product innovation, increased consumer interest and growing sales.

New products excite consumers and serve to enhance and encourage the imaginations of local designers. Our industry has all the talent, skill and expertise required to establish a distinct, inspired aesthetic and to lead the way for international jewellery innovation and development.

Name: Ciara Ryan
Age: 26
Business: Pastiche
Position: Graphic Design/Jewellery Design/Marketing
Qualifications: Bachelor Degree: Digital Media
Years in industry: 5

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