12 Jewelry Trends for 2013: The Second Annual List of What to Buy, Sell, and Stock in the Year Ahead

Last year’s “12 Jewelry Trends for 2012” was a spur-of-the-moment post compiled by yours truly during the sleepy news week between Christmas and New Year’s. While chock-full of directional research and market intelligence, its success most certainly took everyone at JCK by surprise. The post went viral, with hits mushrooming at an astounding rate after its debut on Dec. 27, 2011. By the end of this year, the post emerged as JCK’s single most popular article for 2012, with about 28,000 page views.

Not only was the post itself a hit, the information contained within it turned out to be (thankfully) pretty accurate. A vendor at the AGTA Tucson GemFair 2012 told me that after reading the article, he brought extra pyrite with him to the show, which he sold out early on. And over the summer, Swarovski debuted a new marcasite collection, which is made with pyrite. After JCK Las Vegas, more convertible jewels—one of the forecasted trends—surfaced, as well as more pyrite in finished collections, new freshwater pearl lines, tribal motifs (which were evident on the spring runways), big colored stone styles, and other items from the list.

So one year later, we’re back to square one, and starting over with a New Year and a new 12 Trends list. Fingers crossed it’s helpful, and please do chime in with feedback and observations—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Thank you for reading!

Jewelry trends are derived from the three Rs: red carpet, runway, and real life. Here’s a list of 12 trends compiled through jewelry market research of new styles seen at shows and during market appointments, runway fashions for spring, and top looks at awards shows.

Emerald. It’s the color of the year per PANTONE, and is being widely used in the fashion collections of numerous clothing designers, not to mention the stone itself has been a big hit on the red carpet for some time. Plus, international mining firm Gemfields now aims to do for emeralds what De Beers has done for diamonds: Turn them into household must-haves for Americans, with conflict-free sourcing from the start. (Retailers: Remember, too, the importance of color-blocking accessories with this year’s fave clothing hue.)

Subtle Drop Earrings. They make a slightly bigger statement than last year’s studs—widely worn on the red carpet—and coordinate with many a fashion silhouette, so the petite drop earring is a style to watch this year. They also made a splash on the red carpet in 2012 at the Golden Globes, and will nicely complement spring’s full skirts, and romantic and flouncy effects.

Black and White. The colors are still all over the runways, and with 2012’s Art Deco effects happily lingering, black and white will remain in style for quite a while. In jewelry, this bodes well for diamonds—America’s perennial favorite—and cool colored stones like colorless rock crystal, black spinel, onyx, white topaz, and more. (Stay tuned for the February 2013 issue of JCK for rock crystal looks to covet.)

Snakes. According to the Asian calendar, 2013 is the year of the snake! Bulgari is already on trend, with its Serpenti collection (Rachel Weisz serves as the face of the campaign), and many independent jewelry designers and manufacturers are well on their way to serving up stylized rattlesnakes and chic serpent jewels that consumers request.

Drusy. There was lots of it in finished collections during jewelry week 2012 in Las Vegas, at the summer edition of the Jewelers of America show, as well as in entries to this year’s AGTA Spectrum Awards. The flat-backed, crystal-dusted mineral has an organic look many consumers love, is relatively inexpensive, and is available in a wide variety of colors.

Cabochons. They were abundant during jewelry week 2012, and are a welcome sight after years of slices. Cabochon cuts allow enthusiasts to enjoy vibrant colored gemstones that probably contain too many inclusions to facet, thereby making them a little less costly, and sometimes a bargain for shoppers. Plus, they fit perfectly with spring’s casual clothes such as slouchy suits, loose-fitting pants, and denim. (Look for cabochon jewels in JCK‘s upcoming February issue.)

Hair Ornaments. Think barrettes and hairbands, but also tiaras and crowns. Impractical, you say? Perhaps, but they’re youthful and fun, and more widely available thanks to daring designers (like this one and this one) who’re making them, and clothing designers using them on runways (see here and here). Hair ornaments are ideal statements to top off spring’s sheer and gossamer looks that rightfully call attention to the body for their whimsical effects, and where a fanciful headpiece could be just the right accessory.

Amber. It’s light, inexpensive, beautiful, not widely used—yet—in fine jewelry, but I think it’s poised for greatness. Polish jewelry designers, with an abundance of Baltic amber in their backyards, already know the versatility and tawny appeal of fossilized tree resin, but a handful of high-end designers (Lucifer vir Honestus from Italy, Australia’s New York City transplant, Ray Griffiths, and more) are dabbling in the stuff with delightful results. (New amber jewels will be spotlighted in JCK‘s February issue.)

Soft and Sweet. Petite karat gold pendants speak to the still-soaring price of gold and ideally accent spring’s necklines and romantic themes, while matte- and sand-blasted gemstone finishes seen industry-wide this year speak to spring’s soft aesthetics. Even Sarah Michelle Gellar could be seen sporting a stunning pair of frosted chalcedony drop earrings from Bulgari to the 2012 Golden Globes.

Brass, Bronze, and Well-Made Costume. Casual couture rules this spring, making room for earthy materials, denim, slouchy silhouettes, and the well-placed, well-made costume jewel. Let’s face it: The economy has opened up space in jewelry cases nationwide for costume jewels, so you might as well get acquainted with some of the better makers. Think Anndra Neen and Miriam Salat, and a host of others whom JCK will introduce you to in the new year.

Chinoiserie. Asian motifs were on the spring runways, and they’ve also cropped up in jewelry in the form of bamboo motifs, jade, cherry blossom motifs, and more. Tassels have been in lines for the past several years, and we’ll continue to see them for the immediate future.

Estate. More retailers are directing shoppers to vintage stock to find great deals on wedding sets, fine gemstones, period looks, and more. And with the resurgence of Art Deco looks last year, shoppers are discovering those styles and more have long-lasting appeal.