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Articles from GOLD JEWELLERY (597 Articles), PEARL JEWELLERY (295 Articles), RINGS - ENGAGEMENT (212 Articles)

Homegrown bridal jewellery truths

Staying competitive in the bridal market is no easy feat. EMILY MOBBS reveals the latest trends and sales tools expected to help those up for the (rewarding) challenge.

Jennifer Lopez may have told the world “love don’t cost a thing” but a new report suggests quite the opposite.

According to the 2014–15 Cost of Love survey conducted by niche consumer magazine Bride to Be, the average price for an Australian wedding is $65,482.

That’s a 21 per cent increase from what it was when the study was carried out two years ago and a staggering 81 per cent rise from eight years before that ($36,234 in 2004). What’s more, the latest figure represents a reported 56 per cent of the average Australian couple’s income.

The biennial study also finds that the average collective spend on engagement and wedding rings is $9,978, up from $8,269 in the 2012–13 period.

There’s no indication that any of these results directly reflect jeweller profits but it’s certainly an indication that sales opportunities are alive and well despite unstable economic conditions.

Jewellers seeking to capture these opportunities need to be abreast of the latest trends in bridal jewellery. First up on the shopping list of any aspiring groom is an engagement ring, a product sector where popular styles are heavily influenced by celebrities, according to Chris Worth, head of Worth & Douglas marketing and sales.

“Many of the diamond jewellery trends have been influenced by celebrity engagements,” Worth says, pointing to actress Scarlett Johansson as a key influence in the popularisation of art deco-inspired rings and Blake Lively of Gossip Girl fame as responsible for fanning demand for stones set in rose gold.

John Whitaker, a fourth generation jeweller and director of Whitakers Jewellers in Newcastle, NSW, explains that his store attracts customers looking for bespoke designs but even he can’t deny that sales for emerald-cut diamond rings increased when Kim Kardashian began showing off her sparkler. Whitaker says white gold is still the top metal of choice and also notes increased sales in yellow and rose gold.

“Coloured gold is making a comeback, which is in line with a lot of jewellery brands bringing out yellow and rose gold-plated ranges,” he says. “For years it’s just been silver, silver, silver, and that’s why the young people wanted white gold rings – all they’ve worn is silver fashion jewellery!”

Worth & Douglas
Worth & Douglas
Peter W Beck
Peter W Beck

Whitaker’s observations are similar to those of others working in the engagement ring sphere who say white gold reigns supreme, platinum is still loved by a select few and colour is gaining ground.

“White gold rings with halos featuring round brilliant cut diamonds remain in constant demand,” Linneys creative director Justin Linney explains, “although we are seeing hints of demand for the use of rose gold.”

Interestingly, while Linneys is well-known for pearl jewellery, Linney says a “large percentage of our sales are generated by engagement rings and this has been growing over the past few years”.

According to Anthony Gersbach, regional manager of Hamiltons Jewellery at Highpoint Shopping Centre in Melbourne, a traditional solitaire setting will always be popular amongst customers at his store; however, it’s another style that has piqued consumer interest of late.

“The halo setting is very trendy right now. It started to become popular last year but this year it has really taken off,” Gersbach explains, adding that approximately 65 per cent of the jewellery business’ customers buy off-the-shelf and approximately 35 per cent purchase custom-made pieces.

In terms of cut, it appears local lovebirds are paying attention to fancies. Worth says cushion and princess cuts remain popular and Linney says there has been a higher percentage of enquiries for fancy cut diamonds, specifically pear
and marquise.

When questioned about current engagement ring trends, TWM Co chief operating officer Roberto Ulas attests it’s all about customisation.

“Custom design is the key trend right now. It’s all about serving them [customer] a plate of options and letting them put together what they want to wear for the rest of their lives,” he explains. “Amongst their selections, we see a lot of rose gold and use of black diamonds.”

Speaking of diamonds, the general consensus is that white stones remain the most popular, with a slight increase in demand for coloured gemstones and coloured diamonds.

Whitaker notes that the desire to have a matching engagement and wedding ring is declining and says a push towards bespoke engagement rings has existed for more than five years. 

“We’ve been working and continually evolving what we do here in order to capitalise on it,” he says of the decision made a few years ago to move away from branded product and develop a niche offering focused on custom design jewellery.

Ringing in the wedding

According to Worth, a consumer’s desire to add their own unique touch also extends to wedding bands, and engravings signifying names, wedding dates or a message on the inside of a ring are all proving popular.

Gersbach says full diamond bands have been selling well, which is an observation also made by Worth and a sentiment expressed by Ulas.

RJ Scanlan
RJ Scanlan
Worth & Douglas
Worth & Douglas

In metal colours, Peter W Beck marketing manager Laura Sawade cites a significant shift towards rose gold.

“Women are ordering ladies diamond-set wedding rings in rose gold to either match their rose gold engagement ring or their white gold engagement ring,” Sawade says. “Fashion in general has been incorporating rose gold or copper hues for a while now. Many designers are using rose gold or copper details on their dresses, shoes and handbags and that’s moving into jewellery also.”

Sawade also attributes the desire for rose gold to “soft, floral and feminine weddings with a vintage twist”, and says the colour isn’t only popular with the girls: “Men are liking the look of white and rose gold mixed together in a range of different designs.”

Speaking of grooms-to-be, Chris Scanlan notes that titanium – mixed with gold – is the fastest-growing category for the men’s wedding ring brand Dora. Scanlan, marketing manager for Dora distributor RJ Scanlan & Co, believes the trend reflects the current market.

“I think there are a few retailers looking at their average sale price of gent’s wedding rings and seeing a decline. Gold has become expensive again, after the AUD fall against the USD, so alternative metals like titanium – with a lower price point – are offered instead of gold,” he says.

Ilhan Demirel, director of Infinity Rings, has similar sentiments. “Alternative metals, such as palladium500 and platinum600 have become more in demand due to the affordability while keeping the quality, as well as titanium and gold combinations,” he explains.

When discussing other trends in men’s wedding bands, Demirel says, “Right now, black diamonds are hot. We have a lot of interest in switching the standard diamonds for black in a range of our Lustre (diamond-adorned) styles.”

Demirel isn’t the only one who gives black diamonds a shout-out. Worth and Ulas report stones in dark hues are popular amongst Aussie men, with Ulas adding that the fondness for black also extends to metal.

From a retailer’s perspective, Gersbach says sales for patterned and diamond-set rings outweigh classic designs; however, Whitaker says there has been a push back to plain wedding ring styles.

Adapting to demand

Fuelling the bridal market is an army of suppliers, all helping to increase consumer engagement and meet changing shopper expectations with developments that enhance online and in-store retail experiences.

“In the age of e-commerce, it is now very important to provide a comparable shopping experience in-store that keeps the consumer engaged,” Worth says.

“We have online pricing available on our mobile-friendly website. Retailers can look up current wholesale prices, as well as switch to ‘retail mode’ to quote RRPs on the shop floor.”

Online live pricing is fast becoming a de rigueur offering from suppliers and retailer Gersbach says it has been a benefit for his sales staff.

Infinity Rings
Infinity Rings
Peter W Beck
Peter W Beck

“We have been using iPads in-store for about two years. It has allowed us to extend our range as we can show pieces in both iPad and catalogue and receive on-the-spot pricing,” he explains. “A lot of customer service teams can now be contacted at peak trading times like Thursday and Friday nights and Saturday, which is also really helpful.”

Technology is also a focus for Infinity Rings. “The core of our current expansion revolves around ensuring we have the latest technology to assists our retailers in store – from the introduction of our state-of-the-art retailer order system to the launch of our website where we have a revolutionary 360-degree ring rotation tool that allows customers to see the ring style against the range of metal combinations,” Dimeril says. “We find it is very important that we continue to evolve and offer these tools to keep up with the online world, as having leading technology will ultimately assist retailers as it drives the clients in store.”

Dimeril also champions social media. “We have found our social media profile is a great way to showcase the designs we have to this market,” he explains. “Some retailers have managed to capitalise on this by engaging with the users online and promoting their stores as a place customers can purchase the brand. We encourage our retailers to do this as it introduces our customers to the retailers when they are in the decision-making process.”

Dora is another wedding ring brand with an active social media presence, recently running a five-month promotion on Facebook that ended earlier this year.

The campaign allowed customers of Dora wedding rings to go into a monthly draw to win a $500 gift voucher and a grand prize draw to win a $7,000 European honeymoon. Consumers registered for the promotion via the Dora Australia Facebook page, an avenue that Scanlan told Jeweller at the time had been crucial in generating awareness and consumer engagement not only for the promotion but also the brand.

Given how quickly technology and the online world are evolving, one would assume initiatives such as this are a sign of many more to come. The bridal market may be competitive but retailers will undoubtedly have a better shot at attracting a greater share of business by knowing what’s hot and what’s not, both on the sales floor and behind the counter. 

Love may not have to cost a thing but it sure seems people are prepared to pay for it. 

Ellendale Diamonds Australia

Tuesday, 18 June, 2019 01:27pm
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