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10 things Jeweller learned in 2013

As the industry prepares for a new year of trading, Jeweller reflects on the major issues reported in 2013.

Here is our rundown of 10 key lessons learned over the past 12 months (in no particular order), inspired by the pages of Jeweller.

1. Diamonds still objects of desire

Diamonds still appear to be one of the most desirable, aspirational items in the world. Evidence comes from the sizable list of record-breaking prices paid for diamonds at auction this year. Whether it was for a fancy pink Golconda diamond that made its appearance for the first time in 50 years and sold for about $38 million or a stone dubbed “the greatest white diamond ever to appear at auction” that sold for $32.5 million (topping the previous record set just months prior), the demand for this stone definitely seems to be robust.

2. Pandora continues to power ahead

It may have started with humble beginnings in a garage in 2004 but Pandora has achieved some major milestones since then. By 2009 sales revenue was believed to have reached more than $180 million (wholesale) and it is widely accepted that those little beads were responsible for changing the Australian jewellery industry. And while it has faced some controversy, namely the closure of about 200 accounts throughout 2011 and 2012, the brand has continued to forge ahead during 2013, having opened a number of new stores, released a new line of product and reported strong financial results all year.

3. The impact of 3D printing

Manufacturing jewellers have been aware of 3D printing for a number of years and have been availing themselves of the technology through casting service providers and the like. But, as Jeweller reported in its November issue, low-priced, entry-level equipment and a handful of entrepreneurial websites like have opened the door to many would-be jewellery designers to create their own bespoke pieces.

At present, the quality of these “home-made” pieces is questionable but as the price of technology decreases and the level of quality increases, time will tell if 3D printing will have an effect on the bespoke manufacturing jeweller.

4. Smartwatches – where are they?

All the talk about the threats smartwatches would pose to the traditional watch-seller have so far failed to materialise. (Editor Coleby Nicholson first wrote about the impending Apple iWatch as early as 2011). This year, rumours abounded that Apple had registered patents, hired designers, etc, which “proved” it was soon to release its game-changing smartwatch. But the technology giant has noticeably been quiet on the wearable technology front. And while Samsung and Sony have got the jump on Apple, their watches are not readily available in Australia. The Burg smartwatch, which has just struck a deal with local suppliers West End Collection, appears to be the only watch/phone with wide distributorship.

5. Will interchangeable coin pendants become a trend?

With an influx of interchangeable coin pendant ranges launched at this year’s Sydney jewellery fair as well as in the lead-up to the event, it seems suppliers are hoping they will soon be riding the wave of the latest trend. Having recently gained momentum in Europe – one UK-based journalist has tipped the style to be the next BIG jewellery trend – it will be interesting to watch whether the necklaces take off locally.

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Nikki Lissoni
Nikki Lissoni
Hot Diamonds
Hot Diamonds

6. Scepticism over lab-created diamonds seems to have decreased

The GIA dubbed 2012 “the year that synthetic diamonds made their mark”. After reviewing the synthetic diamond-related articles published by Jeweller this year, perhaps 2013 could be dubbed “the year that scepticism regarding synthetic diamonds began to decrease”.

Major industry players seem to be taking great measures to educate consumers about the processes involved in creating the stones and international body HRD Antwerp even announced plans to launch a Synthetic Diamond Certificate in a bid to support consumer confidence.

Production and quality also increased – US-based Gemesis Diamond Company claimed to have produced the largest and whitest lab-created diamond (weighing 1.29 carats and classified as type IIa) in the world earlier this year. The business also indentified a market for pink diamonds, having recently announced the addition of a fancy pink collection to its offering.

7. Rose gold makes its mark across jewellery categories

The proliferation of rose gold-coloured watches and jewellery in 2013 implies the emergence of another trend in the making. While the metal featured in many women’s and men’s watch designs, rose gold-plated sterling silver and stainless steel jewellery ranges were also prevalent – suggesting that consumers are attracted to the look of the metal but aren’t necessarily prepared to pay gold prices.  

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Thomas Sabo
Thomas Sabo
Opals Australia
Opals Australia

8. Security is a worrying concern for jewellers

A spate of high profile thefts in Cannes on the French Riviera earlier this year has almost proved to be a distraction from the number of local jewellery store robberies in 2013.

As banks have increased their security measures, thefts from jewellers can be seen as easy targets and we constantly hear of break-ins, smash-and-grabs or opportunistic robberies. Jeweller hasn’t reported many of them but in July, the tragic death of Victorian jeweller Dermot O’Toole in a botched hold-up brought into focus the real dangers jewellers face and the need for individuals to constantly review their security and safety systems.

9. Opal is yet to shrug off its poor image in Australia

Would anyone from overseas believe that opal is not held in the same high regard here in Australia as it is in other countries? While export demand for high quality opals has increased greatly over the past five years, according to opal-sellers, the same level of popularity hasn’t been experienced in the gemstone’s own backyard. Opal expert Andrew Cody even bemoaned the situation in Jeweller’s Soapbox column in June.

Luxury designer brands like Dior, Cartier, Van Cleef and Boucheron, to name a few, are creating high-end fine jewellery pieces featuring opal, yet Australians often scoff at the gemstone.

In 2013, the Chinese held their inaugural government-supported mineral and gem show. It was a huge event that incorporated about 1,000 exhibitors and attracted visitors from around the world. Opal was named the “feature gemstone” of the show and took pride of place. But at home there is very little fanfare surrounding opal. Perhaps it has fallen victim to Australia’s “tall poppy” syndrome?

10. Tough times for retailers have persisted

After being practically the only nation to escape the GFC, the flow-on effect has not left retailers untouched. In October, Jeweller received a “cry for help” from one of our readers – a perplexed retailer who explained how he was doing it tough. What followed shortly after was a number of other retailers who described themselves as being in the same boat. However, what Jeweller found most encouraging was the number of offers of help and support from this industry. 

Sunday, 24 March, 2019 11:52pm
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Vital Diamonds International
Ellendale Diamonds Australia
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