5 Retail Takeaways From the Jewellery Cut Live Conference in London

Since debuting in 2018, The Jewellery Cut—a London-based platform that includes a website, social media, and events dedicated to promoting contemporary jewelry in the U.K.—has garnered awards and attention, including being named a jewelry Instagram account to follow by The New York Times.

The Jewellery Cut Live, the platform’s event program, designed to complement London Fashion Week, is held in September and February. The latest edition ran Sunday and Monday within the stately walls of the Royal Institution, in the elegant neighborhood of Mayfair—home to boutiques by Graff, Cartier, and Boodles—and brought together many impressive names from across the British jewelry sector. Despite the rain courtesy of Storm Dennis, enthusiasm for the event did not seem dampened, and the talks positively dripped with jewelry insights and trends.

Here are five top takeaways from the event for retailers across the pond.

Make Jewelry Personal

The observation that people desire personal jewelry popped up time and time again. In sharing the Swarovski Gem Visions report for 2020–21, Giulia Modolo of Swarovski Gemstones highlighted that many consumers want to celebrate their individuality. They want to engrave their jewelry with secret messages, mix and match earrings to create their own looks, and wear designs that include sculptural portrayals of the human body—such as a pendant in the shape of a woman.

“A topic that has been at the top of the design list for years is ‘secret messages’—the possibility of engraving your piece of jewelry with a message, a date, or a secret code,” Modolo said. “It could be something for a loved one or something for yourself. But also it’s something that is a message that will be passed down. It does not end with you.”

In a separate discussion of upcycling jewelry, several designers added that their customers have an urge to connect their life stories with those of others through jewelry. This has fueled an interest in remaking family pieces to become contemporary and wearable—and even in purchasing jewelry created with vintage or antique elements from the jewels that once belonged to others.

The Jewellery Cut Live London event
Designer Sarah Ho, Colette Neyrey of design brand Maison Coco, Vic + Jo founder Caterina Degiacomi, Pandora Maloney of London retailer Susannah Lovis, and Jewellery Cut cofounder Rachael Taylor discuss reinventing the past through a new wave of thoroughly modern upcycling (photo courtesy of The Jewellery Cut Live).

Consider Colored Stones

The public craving for personalization extends past design to color. Gem Collector Tayma Page Allies dedicated her entire talk (and even a poem) to the power of Paraiba tourmaline. Allies pointed out the beauty of colored stones, the many possibilities to complement customers’ skin tones, and the health benefits with which they have sometimes been associated. Color therapy is gaining traction, and Allies sees no reason to exclude gemstones. These benefits aside, Modolo mentioned that she is following the trend of featuring stones in bold colors, including color-change gems and rounded shapes in light, soft colors with sharper, angular-accent stones.

Two vintage colored stone rings from Baroque Rocks
Two vintage colored stone rings from Baroque Rocks showcased at the event capture many of the themes discussed at the conference.

Engage Through Meaningful Experiences

Across industries, marketers have recognized that offering memorable experiences is one of their most important tools. James Amos, marketing director at Boodles, the U.K.’s premier independent jeweler, pointed out that not any old experience will do. Personal, intimate experiences will win the day.

“All these events that we do give ourselves an opportunity to meet new customers, which is important because they are not browsing up and down the streets in the same way they used to,” Amos said. “It’s not our time we need to think about. It’s can we get customers to give up their precious time to spend time with us? So we have to find things which have a hook to make them come to us and want to spend time with us. If we can do that, that gives us an opportunity to show them jewelry.”

Address Environmental Concerns

At nearly every talk, someone in the audience asked at least one question about environmental and sustainability efforts. More than anything, the audience was after transparency and making sure jewelers knew where they sourced their gemstones. Speakers were prepared. For instance, Amos noted that Boodles has partnered with the Cullinan mine, giving its diamonds both the provenance and certainty of origin desired today.

Modolo also highlighted the lengths to which Swarovski has gone to make its business sustainable. Interestingly, toward the end of her presentation, she mentioned that this was the first time she did not receive any questions about lab-grown stones. No longer a novelty, lab-grown diamonds did not get much airtime at the event. However, there were mentions of the uncertainty swirling around their manufacturers’ sustainability claims, a topic JCK has covered extensively.

Mix Politics and Jewels With Caution

Finally, despite having dominated news headlines, Brexit was not a topic of conversation at the conference. Of the British jewelers who spoke, many appeared focused on growing their businesses at home, rather than abroad. As the 2020 U.S. presidential election draws near, American retailers may be feeling similarly fatigued with political chatter. Perhaps it’s time to take a page from the Brits and ascribe to the sentiment that politics should not be discussed in bejeweled company?

Top: The Jewellery Cut Live cofounders Andrew Martyniuk and Rachael Taylor kick-off the start of the event (photo courtesy of The Jewellery Cut Live).

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