Our forecasters cover the gamut of prophecies for the new year, spanning topics as diverse as green washing, the metaverse, 3D printing, and crime
Virtually all people share a desire to know the future. But even the experts struggle with forecasting. In fact, according to a recent New York Times podcast featuring Philip Tetlock, professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and coauthor of Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction, the average expert is roughly as accurate as “a dart-throwing chimpanzee” at predicting events.That said, we aren’t giving up our obsession with prophecies anytime soon. Case in point: We asked 22 people in the jewelry trade, representing a diverse mix of views, to answer a single question: What is your boldest prediction for the jewelry industry in 2022?
Our panelists’ answers, which have been lightly edited for length and clarity, touch on the enduring importance of brick-and-mortar retail, the need to made good on pledges to support diversity and sustainability, and the growing significance of the metaverse and other next-gen digital initiatives among a slew of fascinating topics. All told, their predictions add up to a thrilling, if rocky, forecast for the year to come. Buckle up!
Ana Brazaityte, Cecilia Echeverri, and Christina T. Miller
Consultants at Christina T. Miller Sustainable Jewelry Consulting
We have a prediction and a wish. In 2022, we predict marketing sustainability claims are going to be dizzying, with real impacts questionable. Green washing, whitewashing, and ethics washing will make it difficult for consumers to discern which brands actually care and are putting values into practice, in contrast to empty words.
Our wish is that by the end of 2022 more jewelry industry members will focus on action—what they can do to improve the quality of life of communities affected by our trade. This means working together in equal partnership to take action on climate change; help communities adapt to the new realities; share publicly where our gold, diamonds, and gemstones come from; and engage with our supply chains to ensure a more equitable and inclusive industry for all.
(Pictured: Ana Brazaityte and Christina T. Miller)
Seattle-based CEO of Blue Nile
In 2022, consumer uncertainty will continue to be a trend driven by the unpredictability of COVID-19, supply chain challenges, and staffing issues. Consumers will continue to shift online to source goods, including luxury items, that allow both self-expression and traditional gifting. Retailers that create seamless options for customers to shop how they want and when they want through both online and offline experiences will scale and grow.
Bella Neyman and JB Jones
Founders of NYC Jewelry Week
We believe that we will see a shift toward brick-and-mortar again. Nearly two years of isolation have made us want to interact, gather, and handle jewelry.
Websites are great for browsing and research, but when it comes to buying, consumers will head back to the stores. It is all about human connection.
I think 2022 will see more women and people of color break through as a new force in the jewelry industry, and this diversity will inject a new creativity, spirit, vision, and energy into our world. Our task as leaders is to create the opportunity and provide the platform.
Tel Aviv–based diamond industry researcher and analyst
We should expect to see a number of changes. One is the establishment of lab-grown as a bona fide product widely accepted by U.S. consumers. (The love affair with larger, bolder diamonds, mainly natural, will continue.)
The migration of the diamond pipeline’s midstream to alternative financing sources will continue and grow further. Rough-diamond price fluctuations will grow more extreme due to the changes in consumer demand and availability.
But the most important change I expect to see in 2022 has to do with consumer purchasing trends with regard to gems and jewelry. [Consumers will require companies] to demonstrate a higher social standard, such as eco-friendliness or to prove their products do not hurt lives. From here on out, I hope to see consumers actually turning down lower-cost products and preferring items that do meet these higher standards. If this happens, we will also see the cost of meeting these standards reduced, but at the same time a bifurcation in offerings, including very low-cost items that can’t prove that they meet the new standards.
Consumer demand for vintage and pre-owned luxury products surged in 2021—and by all accounts, the desire for rare and exquisite jewelry will continue to soar in 2022. Consumers are increasingly concerned about the products they are buying and the impact on the environment and, ultimately, buying vintage/antique is the only way to ensure a zero-carbon footprint.
There is an urge for sentimentality and to be a part of history from consumers, who are less concerned with quantity, but are seeking more quality and legacy in their purchases. The jewels of the past took time and expert craftsmanship; they were built to last and not be tossed away. Dealer-to-dealer sourcing and trading will move faster through digital channels as the demand from consumers rises.
History has shown us that discomfort brings about change. 2020 was coined as “the year of social awakening,” and in 2021 many organizations took a hard look at their practices related to diversity and inclusion (D&I). I predict that 2022 will be the culmination of thought and actions into tangible change for D&I within the jewelry industry. It is necessary, and it is beginning to happen through a shift in narrative, expanding representation, and developing equitable opportunities for marginalized groups while being considerate of intersectionality.
Vice president of marketing and communications at Berkley Asset Protection in Cleveland
My boldest prediction: more retail crime, unfortunately. The combination of the increases in crime coupled with inflation will lead jewelers to proactively implement more in-store and cybersecurity measures in 2022. With the rise in the brazen “flash mob” large-scale smash-and-grab robberies over the past few months as well as new types of cybercrime and credit card fraud, retail crime is on an upward trajectory.
In 2022, we predict jewelers will invest in more crime prevention, cybersecurity, and fraud protection measures through advanced technology, surveillance, security software, and adding third-party online payment processing services, which take some of the payment collection risks off the jeweler.
Owner of Adornment + Theory, a jewelry boutique in Chicago
In 2022, I see a greater pull toward crypto, creativity in the use of nonfungible tokens (NFTs), and the utilization of blockchain for gemstone traceability. This past year, Adornment + Theory linked a one-of-a-kind fine jewelry piece to an NFT to much success.
Marketingwise, I believe the winning platforms will continue to be TikTok and Reels, but in the end, nothing will replace relationships. Lastly, I am excited and passionate about the growing equity and diversity in our field from up-and-coming Black and Latino jewelry designers.
New York City–based director of marketing at the International Gemological Institute (IGI)
The IGI predicts jewelers focused on social responsibility will find notably better success in 2022. Whether it’s natural or lab-grown diamond jewelry, current generations will seek out companies that resonate with their personal values when spending on luxury items, and the environment is increasingly top of mind.
The terms sustainable or socially responsible are used frequently in marketing, but there is still consumer confusion on what those terms mean and how companies can claim them. In 2022, consumers are going to be progressively smarter in making luxury purchases and will demand transparency. At IGI, we anticipate a rise in consumers requiring verification by third parties on corporate sustainability claims. Jewelers need to educate themselves and be ready to substantiate their claims.
Miami-based luxury marketing and public relations consultant
My boldest prediction for 2022 is that the brands weakened by COVID-19 will finally see the opportunity it has created in the rise of e-commerce, where consumers now, more than ever, feel comfortable shopping.
Livestream shopping and one-on-one Zoom presentations will become a crucial part of the communications mix as brands seek to re-create the in-store shopping experience online. Imagine how much bigger the audience for your trunk shows would be if customers could attend from anywhere in the world just by switching on their laptops.
In 2022, businesses will need to be patient and react flexibly, quickly, and efficiently. For industry meetings of all kinds, this unfortunately continues to mean a high degree of planning uncertainty and the greatest possible entrepreneurial risk—both for participants and for the organizers.
I predict risk-taking, relevant staying power, and mutual trust will be the cornerstones of any business venture for 2022.
President and CEO of GIA in Carlsbad, Calif.
The industry will continue to evolve and change because we must if we are to remain relevant. The well-known management consultant and author Peter Drucker said that “a willingness to depart from the familiar has distinct survival value.” I predict that continuing to adapt to consumers’ focus on greater transparency, establishing sustainability practices, embracing responsible sourcing, and limiting our environmental impact will bring more than survival—it will bring our industry even greater success in the years to come.
Consumers will reward companies and brands that not only strive to meet, but are successful in meeting, their evolving interests and demands. The global gem and jewelry industry will continue to provide meaningful, emotional products that are treasured by consumers as they celebrate milestones and occasions in their lives and ensure that everyone along the supply chain benefits.
CEO of Bedrock Manufacturing, parent company of Shinola
COVID-19 changed behavior, but it did not weaken people’s appetite for human connection and the desire to touch, feel, and experience the items they want to bring into their lives. As Americans return to a more normal way of life in 2022, I believe there will be an urge to spend more time in physical stores even amid all the convenience of shopping online.
Like every fashion brand, Shinola’s brick-and-mortar locations were disrupted as the pandemic broke out and over the 20 months that followed. Traffic still hasn’t entirely bounced back. Nevertheless, we never stopped focusing on guest experience: We sent handwritten notes, checked in over email, enhanced our concierge services, and made it easier for people to order products from home and pick up at the store. Our stores remain a vibrant and central part of Shinola’s retail strategy.
Still, I believe people will be demanding more from retailers in the days ahead. In a word, they are seeking hospitality. This means providing an increasingly seamless link between online shopping and what is experienced in person. Stores will need to be even more welcoming and dynamic. If guests do not feel welcome in a store, they sense a lack of thoughtfulness in how the store is designed, or their questions or needs are not satisfied during interactions with our associates, they will go elsewhere or simply stay home.
In fact, we as a company are actively planning for retail growth in 2023 and beyond. Why? Because brick-and-mortar is the arena where relationships are most solidly built and customers most intimately connect with our products and people.
Kent Wong Siu-Kei
Hong Kong–based managing director of Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group
Along with advancements in smart and automated manufacturing, jewelry customization is poised to evolve. For instance, 3D-printed custom-made jewelry will become more accessible to customers soon. Secondly, the metaverse is an emerging battlefield for new retail. Brands will proactively explore the potential of NFT jewelry, aiming to create unique brand experiences and immersive digital experiences for their customers.
Last but not least, experience is everything. Bespoke, limited-edition jewelry, which can be personalized by customers to their satisfaction, will open up more opportunities to the industry.
Consumer demand for jewelry has been extremely high over the past 16 months, and we are in another very strong holiday season. Many retailers are having record-breaking years due to revitalized consumer demand in fine jewelry and meaningful luxury, with the shift in spending away from travel and fashion. Jewelers and their customers have embraced technology at a much more rapid pace over the past two years, and I predict jewelers will continue to utilize the new digital tools and resources available in the market in 2022 to create highly personalized, customer-centric communications and clienteling strategies.
Retailers are uniquely positioned to use personalized digital catalogs alongside enhanced CRM, POS, and SMS software and even experimenting with artificial intelligence implementation to help customize the customer experience both in store and online. At the JCK show, our Retail Innovation area was, and we believe will continue to be, one of the most highly trafficked areas as retailers continue to innovate and integrate technology into their everyday practices.
London-based editor, stylist, and author of Coveted: Art and Innovation in High Jewelry
Jewelry sales will polarize between branded offerings by the big global houses and cutting-edge innovation from the independents. Anyone caught in the middle (especially those without a significant social media presence) will have to up their game to survive what will be a slow economic recovery as COVID-19 rumbles on.
Global wealth is still growing, but competition is fierce to get and retain quality [workers] and repeat clients. The consumer experience will become more important next year as will sustainability and diversity. Traditional pre-COVID ways of doing things just won’t cut it.
There are no signs that demand for pre-owned and vintage watches will slow down as we enter 2022. However, my prediction is that we will see a tremendous swelling of interest in brands and styles beyond the stainless steel sports watch trend that has reigned dominant in the marketplace for the past three years. Smaller, thinner, precious metal, design-forward watches are sure to see a long-overdue rise as will renewed interest in lesser-known sports watches from the 1950s and ’70s, which have been relatively quiet in recent years but offer a tremendous amount of style and story.
The jewelry industry will convey the optimism and harmony we are all looking for after these difficult past years. I’m sure this will come with much consciousness and clarity on what sustainability means and how we could support others when buying beautiful creations. I believe the industry will be more attentive to what actions actually have a tremendous positive impact and which claims will be green washing. Those who don’t jump on the responsible sourcing and transparency train will stay behind.
Founder of A3DM Technologies in Sarasota, Fla., a pioneer in the research and development of additive manufacturing for precious metals
Audentes Fortuna iuvat. Fortune favors the bold—and for jewelers and manufacturers who have embraced technology over the past two decades, that has proven to be true.
As we move forward in this decade, 3D printing jewelry directly from precious metal powder is now within our grasp, both at a small scale for the custom jeweler as well as at production scale for serial manufacturing.
For the small workshop, laser powder bed 3D printers now start at about $75,000 with open parameter systems available from several manufacturers. For a small batch of precious metal powder supply, ultrasonic metal atomizers with a small footprint will be available this spring. These new systems also allow for recycling of precious metal scrap back into powder.
For serial production, 3D metal binder-jet printing is also coming of age. There are several large manufacturers who have already invested and have been quietly printing jewelry in both silver and gold. Also this spring, the jewelry industry will welcome two new domestic facilities that will produce platinum powders for 3D printing of luxury products.
CEO of New York City–based SHR Jewelry Group
The growth and momentum in the men’s jewelry category will continue to explode and will include more designers and brands moving into the space at both the high and low ends. Some of the smaller direct-to-consumer online brands that are currently doing a lion’s share of the business will find it harder to compete as retailers commit to more focused in-store and online presentations dedicated specifically to the male consumer.
With men continuing to expand their fashion wardrobes, retailers will begin to realize increased average unit retail prices as well as greater margins as higher-quality materials become a larger part of their assortments. I foresee the category trending more toward fine jewelry, and for those retailers that have not embraced it, it’s time to get on the bandwagon.
Founder of New York City–based e-tailer The Jewelry Edit
I see a clear trend toward bold and fearless self-expression and expect that to continue through 2022. If the last two years of this pandemic have taught us anything, it’s that preconceived notions of what is “normal” or “expected” are out the window. Along with the upending of our normal routines and social interactions has come a renewed understanding of ourselves and what matters most to us.
Stifling “norms” have receded as people rediscover their passions, their personal lives, and what makes them happy. I believe this has driven the trend toward bolder, more self-expressive and empowering jewelry designs—pieces that unapologetically showcase our uniqueness and individuality. And I see that trend getting stronger as we reawaken from these last two years.
(2022 ornament: Getty Images; Langhoff: Melody Joy Co.)