Er, make that 22 people in the jewelry industry and one AI-powered bot that’s eerily good at reading the proverbial room
What is your boldest prediction for the jewelry industry in 2023?
We put that question to a cross-section of industry personalities (and one frighteningly intelligent chatbot) and received a raft of insightful, provocative, and downright surprising responses in return.
“I had a hard time picking just one,” Andrea Hill of Hill Management Group tells JCK. In addition to her astute comment below, Hill foreshadows another big issue that retailers are bound to face in the new year: “The jewelry industry will recognize the need to adopt different methods of hiring, onboarding, and retaining employees if it wants to remain staffed.”
See merchandising consultant Abe Sherman’s not-all-that-optimistic forecast below for additional commentary on the hiring struggle (it’s real).
Elsewhere in this roundup of prognostications, we get the sense that 2023 will be the year when consumers, activists, and investors demand full transparency from companies trumpeting their sustainable and responsible sourcing initiatives. That evolving technology (especially artificial intelligence or AI) will fuel even more focus on personalization and storytelling. And that lab-grown diamonds will continue their push into the fashion jewelry category.
In alphabetical order (based on first name), we present the industry’s big thinkers on what the new year holds for the jewelry trade:
CEO, Buyers Intelligence Group (BIG)
Sales in 2023 will be similar to 2019 numbers. Overbought retailers will be dealing with cash-flow issues as they did pre-COVID. Balance sheets will erode as the industry absorbs inventories and deals with higher borrowing costs.
Brands will make strategic decisions to close more doors in an effort to become more important to fewer retailers. Retailers will favor suppliers that step up their efforts to help retailers focus on winning merchandise assortments and not just selling. Data-sharing between manufacturers and retailers will become a requirement to maintain relationships—both parties will insist on it.
Depressed stock market and declining real estate prices will continue through 2023, impacting consumer sentiment and spending. Bubbles will burst in all areas of the economy. Quantitative tightening will put pressure on credit, and the cost of borrowing will be a lot more expensive. Cash will once again be king. As borrowing gets more expensive, suppliers will offer reasonable discounts for paying early. Margins will decline after several years of increases, as retailers feel the pressure to reduce inventory.
Store closings will ramp up as retailers deal with a tougher road ahead and cash out. Staffing issues will get worse before they get better—companies will need to be more flexible to attract new, especially younger staff. Older workers will re-enter the workforce as their retirement accounts erode and inflation continues, providing more seasoned and stable staff.
My boldest prediction is that the industry will be affected by looming environment, social, and corporate governance (ESG) requirements and will have to start paying attention to supply chain transparency in a more effective manner than simply asking suppliers for assurances. Public companies (Signet, Tiffany, Berkshire Hathaway, Birks, Movado Group, Envela) will have to start reporting on ESG, and the ripple effects will hit the jewelry industry in ways it has been able to avoid until now.
Diamond, gem, and metals processors; suppliers; and manufacturers will need to finally consider meaningful reform of supply chain management. 2023 may even be the year we see movement toward a U.S. import requirement that we know the origin of all diamonds, instead of just knowing where they were processed.
Vice president, Jewelers Block, Berkley Asset Protection
As we approach 2023, we anticipate continued sales growth in the jewelry industry, although tempered from the last couple of years. Unfortunately, the upward trajectory that we have seen in crimes specific to retailers will also continue on this path.
Insurers and jewelers will need to work together on loss prevention to curb crime, from smash-and-grab robberies to sneak thefts and shipping losses. We will see enhancements in loss prevention and security measures in reaction to the different techniques thieves are using to commit these crimes against jewelers. Also, jewelers will actively participate with communities online, like the new Jewelers Helping Jewelers Crime Alert Network on Facebook, to stay more vigilant and up to date on crime threats.
President, International Gemological Institute of North America
Consumers will become more inquisitive and informed about their jewelry purchases with an unwavering expectation for full transparency concerning the products they purchase.
In 2023, awareness around lab-grown diamonds will build organically for consumers, especially through influencers on social media platforms with accounts dedicated to informing and educating consumers, as well as real consumers sharing details about their lab-grown diamond jewelry purchases.
The mined-diamond sector will take some potentially drastic measures like price adjustments, a focus on origin storytelling, bigger advertising campaigns, and spending to push relevancy in the mass market, not only the high end. With these and other efforts, the sector will continue to gain as such initiatives move forward. There will be ongoing demand for both mined and lab-grown diamonds, but transparency will be key.
Owner and CEO, Fana Jewelry
Increases in online shopping are leading to impersonal retail experiences. In 2023, the market will be more competitive than in recent years, and given the economic uncertainty, consumers will be more discerning, but luxury goods and independent jewelry stores will see sales growth by creating high-touch interactions that shoppers are looking for.
Bridal and custom designs will fuel sales growth opportunities. Even in uncertain times, customers seek quality.
Founder and president, Fine Girl Luxury Brand Building & Communications
I predict that businesses in our industry will innovate and invest in developing sustainability skills and that the “responsible jewelry” topic overall will be an important focus for companies in 2023. From my perspective, the strong commitments from owners and top-level management/staff all the way through to part-time employees will be central to creating a culture of sustainability learning that leads to action.
I see companies increasingly moving away from traditional approaches of doing something that “looks good” or “sounds good” and toward more integrated, business outcome–driven ways of incorporating sustainability into every step of the business life cycle.
Artificial intelligence–powered chatbot
I predict that the jewelry industry will be embracing digital technologies such as 3D printing, virtual reality, and augmented reality to create innovative and customized jewelry designs by 2023. This will enable customers to preview and customize jewelry designs before ordering in-store or online, creating a more immersive and personalized shopping experience.
Diamond industry analyst
I expect 2023 to be a watershed year for lab-grown and natural diamonds. The past two years established lab-grown as a mass market product with broad acceptance that extends beyond early adopters.
For natural diamonds, the last two years proved that many desire them and are willing to spend more than ever before on them. This pushed up the average spend on natural diamonds and further positioned them as high-end luxury items.
These two trends, coupled with the constant price decline of lab-grown, are leading a profound change in demand. My bold prediction is that in 2023, half of the diamonds set in store by jewelers will be lab-grown. If I may add an even bolder prediction: By 2024 we may see that half of the diamond jewelry sold in the United States will be set with lab-grown diamonds. This is particularly true in the event of a major recession.
In 2022, we slowly regained a sense of a normal life and returned to getting out, traveling, and expressing ourselves in the real world. This will be enhanced in 2023, with consumers expressing themselves through a kind of maximalist, decorative personalization.
People want to express their style, show their love, be true to themselves and loved ones. Authenticity is important. I predict more bold and bespoke embellishments in fashion and jewelry, and a greater interest in one-of-a-kind and meaningful products.
Online and brick-and-mortar retailers will offer new opportunities for collaborative customization via tailored product designs. Consumers want to be involved in the process, And modern technology and manufacturing can bring that experience to life, further connecting brands and consumers.
Head of archives and brand heritage, David Webb
For 2023, I hope to see a return to insanely detailed revival crafts. I always love when jewelers put in the hard work and learn a technique like granulation or enameling or the infinitesimally minute work of setting a micro mosaic. There definitely are jewelers doing this astounding work now, but I bet there are other long-forgotten or not often used techniques that could make a big comeback in a modern way.
As always, I look for authenticity and a singularity of vision from new work coming on the scene. Can people synthesize the entirety of what they’ve seen and experienced in jewelry and still come out with a unique perspective and visual identity? It’s so satisfying when they do and proves there’s room for everyone in this industry.
President and CEO
Ben Bridge Jeweler
As an industry, we will finally realize that the depth and richness of our stories are valuable and worth sharing. Once we step away from viewing ourselves as a commodity, we will then celebrate the creativity, artistry, and impact of our beautiful product.
Mariana Russo Chambers
Founder and CEO, Cut + Clarity
My boldest prediction for the jewelry industry in 2023 is that we will continue to prioritize shortening the supply chain and focus on domestic manufacturing. This will create a renaissance of domestic talent.
Chief content executive, Jewelers Mutual Group
My boldest (most optimistic) prediction for 2023 is that the industry rallies around the emotional connection consumers have with jewelry (no one ever cried when they inherited their grandma’s cellphone)…it’s our industry’s secret sauce and we must embrace it!
Founder, Anza Gems
I predict that we will see technology break through to truly link the artisanal supply side of the jewelry industry to the last mile that jewelry travels to reach the customer. After attending a series of conferences this fall (Conversations in Park City, the Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference, and the World Bank Conference in Nairobi, Kenya), I noted a continuous thread of the idea that technology has the potential to be instrumental in linking the artisanal supply side more directly to the distribution side. It also has the potential to help close the gap on the isolation of source communities, which allows things like human rights abuses or environmental disasters to flourish unseen or unchecked. With the use of blockchain, platforms to bring gems mine-to-market, even WhatsApp groups linking vulnerable women together, we are about to see greater transparency through the adoption of tech.
Expert, International Antique Jewelers Association (IAJA) Expertise; member, France’s Compagnie Nationale des Experts
Buying secondhand and vintage jewelry will continue to be more present in the market. It is ecological and we know how important that is today, and people have become aware of the top quality of these antique jewels.
There is also a strong demand, both among private collectors and dealers, for security and assurances linked to these purchases. Given the high market prices, especially on rare or legacy brand items, people want to have guarantees on what they buy. The demand for luxury-purchase authentications and expertise reporting will explode in 2023. People want to feel good and confident about the luxury items and purchases they make.
corporate affairs and government relations,
De Beers Group
My bold prediction is that we finally see the promises of technology come to fruition—with blockchain and nonfungible tokens making the creators and the communities of origin for diamonds knowable and personal for the people who buy them.
Diamond and jewelry industry consultant
In 2023, inflation might turn out to be the unlikely savior for the jewelry industry by supporting overall sales and helping turn what was looking to be a disastrous year into simply a bad one!
Owner, For Future Reference
Even though we’re heading into uncertain financial times, the conversation around jewelry responsibility continues to grow—2023 will hopefully be the year that some of these bigger ideas start to crystalize in the public perception.
Customers are looking for ways to lower their impact while still staying in high style, and independent brands like Tabayer—that only use Fairmined gold from small-scale mining operations—will be ahead of the curve.
Founder and CEO, The Jewelry Edit
I see a move toward more thoughtful purchasing. It may be fewer pieces, but they will be more meaningful. 2023 will be a time for contemplation, but also action. With uncertainties when it comes to the economy, politics, the environment, and more, people are looking for connection and meaning.
A reawakening is afoot of what it means to wear who you are and what you believe. Whether it’s a better understanding of the origin of the materials or how they’re being made, change is coming. I think (and hope!) this will be reflected in jewelry purchases.
I predict the new generation that has been introduced to an appreciation for jewelry and has fed new demand during the pandemic will continue to fuel demand into the future. Jewelers will invest more time learning about this next generation of customers and work toward ways to connect with them.
Jewelers will likely offer more non-gender-specific products and will showcase a diverse assortment of sustainably driven products as well as many more collections from people of various racial and ethnic backgrounds and other marginalized designers. Jewelers will need to be prepared to share the backstories as Gen Z holds brands and retailers to a higher standard than any other generation prior.
Overall, I predict a rise in authentic storytelling using video on social platforms, optimizing online shopping, creating personalized and gamified loyalty programs targeted at a younger audience, and more in-person experiences like permanent jewelry, piercings, and photo moments.
President and CEO, GIA
2023 will be the year when the industry conversation about sustainability will become more solution-focused and actionable. We will have clearer answers to the questions, What does sustainability mean to consumers? What does it mean to the industry? How do we approach it?
We will also see continued progress in how independent research into the fundamental nature of gems will advance consumer protection and our understanding of earth. We cannot journey to the center of the earth, but gems, particularly diamonds, can bring knowledge from those depths so brilliant scientists can decipher their secrets.
President, CEO, and general counsel, Jewelers Vigilance Committee
2023 will bring about a new reality for sustainability, eco claims, and environmental marketing for the entire U.S. market. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will be revising all of these rules, which were last updated in 2012. The world and our reality have changed so much since then—certainly, U.S. consumers’ understanding and demands around responsible sourcing and what it means to be an ethical business have changed.
I predict the outcome will be more inclusive, democratic, and science-based than anything we’ve seen before. As a result, it will significantly change the way businesses are able to market themselves, creating the opportunity for true leadership in the green space, for our industry and others.
The new reality will be enforced by the FTC, of course, but I also predict we’ll see the Securities and Exchange Commission and other agencies turning up the heat on accountability in a very real way in 2023 and even beyond. It’s an exciting moment to come together and co-create a new reality on these super crucial issues. It’s like we will get to help design the house we’ll all live in for at least the next 10 years. It’s important we use our voice to help shape it into a place we all feel great living in.
Founder and President, Boss Logics
In the second half of 2022 we saw a significant increase in in-store digital touch points and greater conversion for those retailers that offered a wider selection through digital platforms.
For 2023, we expect an increase in the consumer’s desire for choice and customization. Success will be awarded to retailers that invest in augmenting their inventory with “endless aisles” and blended physical and digital environments.
2023 globe and chatbot: Getty Images