What was the most important jewelry and watch trend, industry development, or product introduction of 2015? I put this question to some of my favorite people in the industry and they answered. The most popular response was the Apple Watch—by a long shot. But read through the following quotes submitted to me via email and Facebook and you might find a new perspective on the past year.
Marie Helene Morrow, owner, Reinhold Jewelers
“To me, and this is really subjective, one of the most important trends is the talent and drive of European designers—many of them British. Stephen Webster has been very involved in their success and early on recognized their talent and creativity.
Among them are Yunus & Eliza, Jo Hayes, Jacqueline Cullen, Alice Cicolini, Ornella Iannuzzi, Delfina Delettrez, Shimell and Madden, Tomasz Donocik, Fernando Jorge, Spinelli Kilcollin, and Bibi van der Velden. We represent all of them in Puerto Rico, and every day they make my heart sing!”
Jenny Luker, president, Platinum Guild International
“I believe the most important industry development and product was the launch of the Apple Watch. Not because of the product itself, which is still up for debate, but because of what it represents. Apple provides a great in-store experience, an exciting redefining of a traditional product, and is bringing a younger generation into the category. I feel the industry needs to learn from this kind of positioning, as we look to move ourselves into having more impact on future generations.”
The Apple Watch was the most important product introduction of 2015, said a majority of respondents to my informal survey (photo courtesy of Apple).
“Apple Watch. Although, I found it super annoying to be doing stuff with my hands and getting messages. I returned it.”
Jeffrey Allan Pittman Hess, owner, Ball Watch USA
“Smartwatch wearables. This was not only important for the disruption in the watch business but also, on a positive note, in the fashion business. People under 30 putting something on their wrist again can only be good for the wristwatch business in the long run. A successful 38-year-old, who once wore a $500 smartwatch on his wrist will be looking for a $5,000–$20,000 watch as he gets more sophisticated.”
Amy Elliott, jewelry editor
“I think this was a big year for estate jewelry and for estate retailers in general.”
Duvall O’Steen, spokesperson, Jade & Jasper
“I would say innovation in the earring category—from double-sided, mismatched, and reversible options to climbers, versatile jackets, stilettos—so many fun new ways to wear earrings. #breakingthemold. And since earrings are typically a big self-purchase item, it gives women great new ways to express themselves and their uniqueness.”
Norman M. Miller, publisher, Elite Traveler
“Apple Watch—it will get people talking watches again.”
Florie Hutchinson, publicist, FHC
“Versatility (dials, materials, sizes).”
Gary Getz, collector and CEO, Strategos
“Value bifurcation, with ‘big’ pieces like minty vintage complicated Pateks continuing to go exponential on price but mid-market and below pieces (especially contemporary watches) taking a step change downward.”
Maria Soldier, executive director, Alex Soldier
“Brands selling directly to consumer.”
Benjamin Guttery, @thirdcoastgems
Anders Modig, watch writer
“Perhaps not the most important, but I do find the explosion of crowdfunding for new watch brands interesting.”
Rebecca Moskal, partner, Communiqué
“The debut of the Apple Watch, as it made watches hip and relevant again with the consumer set, which was not interested in wearing an ‘analog’ watch beforehand.”
Michael Pucci, founder, Abbiamo Group
“Wearables/connected devices. Technology has finally made connected devices pragmatic, useful, and cool.”
When it comes to my Off the Chain blog, the posts that garnered the most clicks in 2015 were almost all gemstone-related—including a blog about digging for diamonds in Arizona that was published way back in September 2014 yet remains my third most popular post!
Tune in next week to read people’s boldest predictions for the jewelry and watch industry in 2016!