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Articles from GOLD JEWELLERY (681 Articles)

The new golden age

All signs point to a big year for yellow gold. GEORGIA WESTGARTH heralds in yet another resurgence for jewellery’s most unmistakeable metal.

There’s no denying that the popularity of gold jewellery in the local market has been impacted by several challenges – a high price that still sits above US$1,000 (AU$1,294); the Aussie dollar taking a beating from the US dollar; a sumptuous array of cheaper, more popular jewellery metals.

That’s not to say the gold sector is flailing. Retailers across the board say white gold continues to perform well and some are even reporting an increase in the sale of yellow and rose gold jewellery; however, the question remains of how the industry is adapting to these challenges and what today’s customer wants from gold jewellery.

Co-owner of Archer & Holland Jewellers in Adelaide, Meredith Whiting, says she is part of the current “Australian yellow gold shift” and believes jewellery lines released by fashion retailers like Witchery are behind the swing towards warm-coloured metals.

Having worked in the jewellery industry for 30 years, Whiting states the warmer metals have been a trend in Europe for the past five years and Australia is just starting to catch up.

Musson Jewellers
Musson Jewellers
Archer & Holland Jewellers
Archer & Holland Jewellers
Michael Wilson Diamond Jewellers
Michael Wilson Diamond Jewellers

“I think it filters through from Europe and people want a change in the wearability of their jewellery,” she explains. “The cheap fashion chain stores have helped bring yellow gold back, and once the consumer knows they like wearing it, they’re more inclined to spend on one nice piece. It’s a spin-off effect and it’s helping the fine jewellery industry.”

Whiting says she has noticed a yellow gold resurgence and is selling equal amounts of yellow and white gold.

“Rose gold is not as dominant as yellow gold,” she adds. “I’m selling a lot more yellow gold necklaces, bracelets, charms and chains – to me it’s making a comeback.”

Olivar Musson, who has been managing family business Musson Jewellers for 17 years, states, “There’s definitely a resurgence in warm metals. Yellow gold is still seen as a little bit garish, a bit brassy. A lot of my clients aren’t ready to get back into full-on yellow gold so the rose and white gold combination is a bit of transition into it. 

“We haven’t seen yellow gold come straight back on its own; we’re seeing it come back through rose gold because it’s a bit softer on most people’s complexion and easier to wear,” he continues. “The blush rose is really popular rather than the brassy yellow of 18-carat.”

Tim Peel is a manufacturing jeweller and president of the Gold and Silversmiths Guild of Australia. He argues that the white metal trend is part of a generational shift and says he hasn’t seen a great fluctuation in yellow gold jewellery sales.

“Over the past ten years the demand for white gold has been very strong ... until recently,” he says. “In the last six months, rose gold has gone through the roof; I’m now selling equal rose to white gold.”

Peel has been selling jewellery at his Silvermist Studio in northeast Victoria for 18 years. He says yellow gold jewellery has been caught up in a trending hotbed of white metals brought on by the big jewellery brands and has subsequently cemented itself as the colour for the mature client.

“Most clients after yellow gold would be over 35s,” he attests, adding that the desire for rose gold is increasing among consumers, spanning a far wider age demographic due to a lack of options in the market.

“They’re [consumers] not finding rose gold in the designs they want; they’re finding very basic ranges out there and deciding
to have it [jewellery] made specifically,” Peel says.

“I have found pendants, chains, cocktail and engagement rings to be the most popular in rose gold.”

Pick a piece

Robert White Jewellers manager Hannah White has noticed a push toward solid yellow gold bangles, dainty rose gold pieces and long chains in both colours.

Silvermist Studio
Silvermist Studio

“Consumers are layering rose and yellow gold long chains. Bangles and cuffs are also really on trend,” she says. “Yellow gold is no longer seen as daggy and something your mum wears – the big fashion houses are coming into play and it’s nice to see.”

White also states art-deco rose gold jewellery is making a comeback: “Fine, sweet, delicate, decorative rose gold rings are very popular but people still want their diamonds set in white gold.”

According to Sydney jeweller Ronald Crisp, bangles are on the up.

“I’m finding old gold jewellery remakes to be quite prevalent at the moment – keeping the gold in the family, that kind of sentimentality,” he says. “I’m making plain, chunky and hinged bangles for men and women in the three-tone as well.”

Michael Wilson Diamond Jewellers in Melbourne is another store that has experienced an increase in bangle sales.

“We can’t keep up with the demand for two-tone bangles; they match everyone and come in silver with yellow gold links, which gives customers more options to wear them with different coloured metals,” Nina Kirk from Michael Wilson explains.

Like Peel, Kirk believes yellow gold is purchased more widely by an older customer base, adding it could be due to yellow gold’s “extravagant” hue.

“If they haven’t worn a lot of jewellery then white gold is less obvious and showy, but I do think yellow gold is more popular for the older generation because they’ve always worn it,” she says, adding, “Cognac diamonds still sell very well in yellow gold because the richness of the yellow complements the stone and the younger generation are happy to wear that combination.”

Attracting young blood

One initiative established in an effort to raise awareness and generate excitement about gold jewellery amongst a younger demographic is the LoveGold campaign. The online platform, which was launched by the World Gold Council (WGC) in 2013, was designed to house features including editorial about jewellery designers, events and films that use the precious metal.

Robert White Jewellers
Robert White Jewellers
Michael Wilson Diamond Jewellers
Michael Wilson Diamond Jewellers
Robert White Jewellers
Robert White Jewellers

WGC head of market intelligence Alistair Hewitt says the LoveGold community has a following of more than 700,000 fans across multiple social media channels. It appears, however, that the council has taken a step back from the venture, with Hewitt explaining it is “now in the hands of a management team, led by Sally Morrison, who will be focused on identifying a new commercial future for the brand”.

Hewitt’s comments seem to confirm a report published by industry publication JCK in May this year that stated the WGC had “spun off” the campaign and that Morrison, its former jewellery operations managing director, had left the council in order to turn LoveGold into a commercial entity.

It might be unknown as to what the future holds for LoveGold but Peel nevertheless believes the platform will continue to help make gold jewellery appealing to younger consumers.

“It’s a very attractive website and I think it has to help,” he says before indicating there’s still work to do. “Their presence on social media is good but they’re going to have to focus on traditional media as well.”

Crisp says the coverage “is beneficial for us all”, adding, “If Tiffany & Co puts out a promotion, it has a ripple effect across the whole industry. Any publicity of jewellery helps everyone, it’s a nice rebound and smaller jewellers definitely reap the benefit of it.”

Considering other facets

Turning to economics, Musson argues that financial factors play a big role in gold jewellery purchases.

“I think the person that probably would have bought themselves or their partner a gold bangle is probably now spending that money on lifestyle or other items,” he says of gold’s erratic status. “It’s going to take a while to get back to buying gold pieces.”

Musson adds that a slip in the price of platinum may also be a factor in the current resurgence of rose and yellow gold by costing platinum some of its prestige.

Silvermist Studio
Silvermist Studio

“You can’t fake gold,” he declares. “I think people were buying platinum and [other] white metal a lot because they saw it as a more valuable metal alongside personal preferences [but] gold is unmistakable – if you see a yellow gold Rolex, you assume a person has achieved a certain level of status in life and it’s the same thing with a yellow gold wedding ring, whereas white metal could be silver or stainless steel.” 

Sam Saffo from Saffo Jewellery in Sydney says his yellow gold stock wasn’t selling a decade ago but the tide is turning.

“In gold chains I’m selling 20 per cent in yellow gold and 80 per cent in white gold with yellow gold slightly improving in the last two to three years,” he explains.

Saffo believes people tend to buy gold for investment purposes when the price of the raw metal rises. “I have noticed this trend – the average population buys when the gold price is up and the economy is positive,” he says.

Crisp on the other hand says he hasn’t experienced a relationship between gold jewellery sales and the price of gold in his store.

“It doesn’t affect men who need to buy jewellery for a particular reason or people who are in love; they are aware of the prices but they just say ‘So be it’,” Crisp explains.

As Australian jewellers and consumer demand catches up with the rest of the world in terms of gold jewellery designs and trends, Hewitt says the gold jewellery sector won’t die any time soon with the help of expanding markets in the US, China and India.

Which is just as well considering there’s a whole new generation of consumers whose appreciation for the metal looks set to increase.

Welcome to a new golden age.

Georgia Westgarth


Having sold jewellery for four years, sales assistant turned journalist, Georgia Westgarth has a strong understanding of the industry and customer needs. She is a freelance contributor for Jeweller with a particular interest in jewellery brands and trends.

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