5 Things Jewelers Will Be Talking About in 2015

Our December–January issue—in your mailboxes soon!—features our annual forecast of all the trends and topics that jewelers will be talking about in the new year. As a taste, here are just five of the things we think are going to be big in 2015:

1. Wearables

Apple chose an intriguing venue (and time) for one of the first public viewings of its new smartwatch: the high-end Paris boutique Colette during fashion week. Equally intriguing was the guest list: Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld and Vogue editor Anna Wintour. The upshot? The tech giant wants its more-than-a-timepiece viewed as not just a gizmo, but also a piece of fashion. And it’s not alone. Online retailer Gilt.com just released a smartwatch by menswear designer Michael Bastian; Rebecca Minkoff has created two smart bracelets with Case-Mate (one notifies you of calls and texts, the other charges your phone); retailer Opening Ceremony partnered with Intel on its MICA (My Intelligent Communication Accessory) bracelet; and Fossil is designing a wearable-tech series, also in conjunction with Intel. After several failed attempts, tech companies are reaching out to true design experts to hopefully produce smart devices. —Rob Bates

2. In-house Manufacturing

Consumer demand for customization and one-off pieces continues to heat up. Shoppers who previously wanted nameplate necklaces are now asking for designs from scratch. The demand dovetails neatly into the democratization of 3-D manufacturing—jewelry-grade printers now start at around $16,000. But even jewelers who aren’t interested in 3-D fabrication should invest in their bench game. Why? Modern consumers have become accustomed to mixing and matching metals and stones on sites such as Blue Nile. And they expect a finished product to be delivered in days. Jewelers who can offer that level of design flexibility—while keeping turnaround times miniscule—will have an edge in 2015 and beyond. —Emili Vesilind

3. Recycled Diamonds

Diamond buybacks haven’t received near the attention that gold selling did at its height, but they constitute a substantial business, accounting for an estimated $1 billion in transactions each year. Businesses like CIRCA and White Pine have targeted this space; now De Beers has expressed an interest, running a test program with four jewelers that it claims will reinvent diamond buying. Diamond dealers aren’t crazy about the buyback business, but as America ages, look for a lot more gems to return to jewelry counters. As Ezi Rapaport, head of global trading for the Rapaport Group, said at a conference: “There are more diamonds now coming out of America than South Africa.” —RB

4. Retailers as Media

At a time when media are becoming retailers—the blog Hodinkee.com, for example, does a slamming watch strap business—the reverse is also true: “I really believe that retailers have to become media,” says Max Büsser, founder of the boutique watch brand MB&F. Case in point: STORY. Since 2011, the New York City emporium has embraced “a retail concept that takes the point of view of a magazine, changes like a gallery, and sells things like a store,” according to founder Rachel Shechtman. Translation: Every four to six weeks, the store changes everything from the merchandise to the flooring in order to tell a new story (“Love,” “Good,” “Made in America”). Brand sponsors—Target is behind the current story, “Home for the Holidays”—play the role of advertisers. A less ambitious, but no less winning, strategy? Build a community on social media channels like Instagram and Pinterest, where storytelling is easy—and free. —Victoria Gomelsky

5. Casual Fashion

Spring fashion shows across the globe nodded to myriad styles and eras (sportswear and the 1970s, in particular), but the underlying messages remained consistent: You can bank on soft silhouettes and pastel colors in 2015. Think fringe, loose-fitting frocks, and flora and fauna motifs, which all had strong showings in collections from Elie Tahari, Haider Ackermann, Jenny Packham, Emilio Pucci, and Fendi. Ideal jewel pairings include yellow gold, natural symbols such as feathers and beads, and neckwear of all stripes. “There were a number of designers showcasing natural stones and drusy statement necklaces,” says Tara Silberberg, owner of the Clay Pot in Brooklyn, N.Y. “We love that kind of thing in general so we’ll have plenty of that on hand.” —Jennifer Heebner