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Articles from RINGS - ENGAGEMENT (275 Articles), RINGS - WEDDING (261 Articles), RINGS - ANNIVERSARY (124 Articles)

Aisle of adornment

A wedding day is fleeting, but wedding jewellery is forever. NAOMI LEVIN takes a look at the dazzling array of options on hand for this season’s brides.

After the vows have been exchanged, the cake has been eaten, the dress has been dry-cleaned, the flowers have been cleared away and the honeymoon is over, wedding jewellery lives on as perhaps the longest-lasting reminder of that one special day.

More than half the people in Australia are married. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, some 52 per cent of the population have walked down that aisle. Weddings are a huge business and jewellery remains one of the largest expenditures within it all. Take an engagement ring and two wedding bands, for starters. Add bracelets, necklaces, earrings and cufflinks for the day itself and it soon becomes clear just how important weddings have become to sustaining the jewellery industry. Unlike many the perfect wedding day’s other essential elements though, the effort and expense invested into jewellery can represent outstanding value for money because wedding jewellery is likely to be worn throughout the remainder of the couple’s life together – every day in the case of wedding bands. Greg Kumashev, manager of Victoria-based jeweller Charles Rose’s Geelong store, indicates that pleasant customer service is key for selling to soon-to-be married couples.

“Customer service is highly important,” he says. “Comfortable surroundings, careful explanation of quality parameters, stock range, clarity of explanation, relevance to need, timeliness of delivery and consistent high-quality of finish are all important.”

For some couples, the engagement ring may be one of their biggest-ever jewellery purchases. It may also be the first time they have been confronted with the jewellery industry’s jargon. So take the time to explain, consult and advise – it may just pay off when the time comes to make the sale.

The most stressful part of the whole marriage process can be for the groom-to-be who wants to surprise his future fiancé with an engagement ring he has personally selected. It is a lovely idea, but can be fraught with frustration as he tries to guess which one is the perfect ring – one he can afford and one that his future fiancé is guaranteed to love.

Laura Sawade, marketing manager of Adelaide-based PW Beck, has some advice for jewellery retailers faced with the nervous man.

“The man should take notice of what colour jewellery his partner already wears,” Sawade suggests. “If she tends to wear yellow gold, for example, he should be safe purchasing a yellow gold engagement ring. Also take notice of whether she likes delicate jewellery or chunkier jewellery as this may help determine what style of ring is purchased.”

While a plain gold band with a solitaire diamond and a matching wedder continues to be a popular and classic look, wedding jewellery is not immune to international trends. “White metals are continuing to shine and grow in popularity across the board in jewellery purchases, and wedding jewellery is no different,” Sawade adds.

Look at the hands of young ladies and it is easy to see that Sawade is spot on. While most of their mothers stuck with traditional yellow gold, more modern women are looking to offset their diamonds with the minimalist look of white gold, platinum, or other white metals.

Kumashev cites platinum as an increasingly popular metal among the betrothed, while Chris Worth of Worth and Douglas names titanium in men’s wedding rings as increasingly popular, recommending two-tone bands for grooms who can’t decide.

Worth and Sawade agree there is also a new inclination among men searching for an appealing wedding ring to consider diamonds.

“While the plain bands are still more popular for men’s jewellery, there has been a demand for heavier, diamond-set bands – although nothing too over-the-top or fancy,” Worth says.

Sawade adds: “Diamonds are no longer just for women, but also for men”.

Overleaf, colourless diamonds remain the gemstone of choice for brides-to-be and Charles Rose’s Kumashev says he does not see much current demand for coloured stones in engagement rings.

And it seems that bold and bling is still in, with Worth remarking that, for some customers, size isn’t the uppermost priority.

“While some customers pay attention to the diamond size, wanting a larger diamond and not worrying too much about the grade, others are happy to sacrifice the diamond weight to ensure they are getting a better grade,” Worth says. When it comes to style, Kumashev says bespoke is better, while Sawade and Worth see couples sway towards the classics.

“Round-brilliant still remains popular, while princess-cut sales also remain strong,” Worth says.

“Claw-set diamond jewellery remains a good seller, along with diamond rings matched with fitted wedding bands.”

On the big day itself, all eyes are on the bride and her choice of jewellery can make or break the final look.

Sarah-Jane Adams of SJ Jewels, a supplier focused on jewellery from a bygone era, says that modern brides are increasingly attracted to vintage pieces from an era called the Belle Epoque.

The Belle Epoque was a European phenomenon lasting for less than two decades at the beginning of the 20th century. It was a time of indulgence for Europe’s wealthy, exemplified by the apparent fact that champagne was perfected during this era, and exotic and hard-to-grow orchids were coveted by the continent’s upper crust.

Adams says the jewellery of the time is highly attractive to brides and their bridal parties in 2010 – she describes it as ornate and pretty, trending to white metal and incorporating filigree work.

“It has absolutely beautiful design work,” she says, adding that vintage jewellery is ideal for bridal parties because it can be easily worn by everyone from the flower girl to the mother of the bride, a fact that makes it adaptable and “cross-generational”.

“With earrings, for example, they can have a low-key version for the bridal party and the bride can have a more eye-catching variation where she remains the centre of attention,” Adams says.

Brides favour a vintage look for three reasons, according to the supplier: firstly, women are after something individual; secondly, “vintage is more romantic; modern is too hard-edged for a romantic time”; and thirdly, vintage jewellery can be passed down from generation to generation.

“Brides want something that is an heirloom; they want something where the design is going to last forever,” Adams says.

Grooms are also buying into the vintage theme, with Adams supplying an impressive range of enamel cufflinks in regal shades of deep royal purple, rainforest green and rich mustard.

“We’ve really found a niche market at jewellers with the men’s cufflinks,” she says.

Looking at more conventional wedding-day jewellery is Tony Bone, who works with Melbourne-based Integral Design. Bone has noticed increasing customer interest in fine jewellery that incorporates pearls and diamonds in the design.

“Wedding jewellery is also affected [by this trend],” he says. “Even though most people will follow tradition, there is always a fashion influence.”

Bone says the current popularity of beaded jewellery is giving pearls their moment in the sun when it comes to wedding day pieces: “The traditionalists look to pearls rather than beads to make their fashion statement.”

Integral Design deals in fine, classic jewellery, but still stays abreast of the latest international trends. Bone speculates that the recent rise in popularity of rose gold in Europe may filter through to Australia and into the bridal jewellery market.

“There has always been a strong rose gold market in Australia, but it has generally been confined to a more mature age group,” he explains. “With European fashions leaning towards rose gold, it may well become popular with young people.”

So the outlook for 2010 can be summarised as interesting metals, trending towards the white spectrum for engagement rings and wedding bands. Diamonds for grooms will continue to rise in popularity without dominating, while brides will stick with elegant classic designs.

For the wedding day, bridal parties will be looking for feminine and detailed vintage designs, and watch for a run on rose gold.

Wedding jewellery is for life, so couples want a beautiful, sophisticated keepsake that they will love as much as they love one another. The key to selling in this area is customer service – remember these are customers who are definitely going to make a purchase. The retailer’s job is to make sure the purchase is made in that store.

Image Gallery (6 Images)
Naomi Levin
Contributor •

Naomi Levin is a journalist who knows a little bit about a lot of things. She has worked as a sports journalist and is currently a political and general news reporter, in addition to writing for Jeweller.

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