Last week, I asked my friends in the industry to comment on the biggest watch and jewelry developments of the past year. No surprise: The Apple Watch emerged as the hands-down favorite. No year-in-review post is complete, however, without its new-year-in-preview twin. Below you’ll find answers to my follow-up question: What is your boldest prediction for 2016?
The answers are a little more varied this time around, but one forecast appears to dominate: We’ll see further consolidation among channels of distribution as jewelry and watchmakers position themselves to sell directly to consumers.
Marie Helene Morrow, owner, Reinhold Jewelers
“I believe that talent and not monetary worth is what will stand out in 2016. Sevan is among the foremost talents in our industry and will influence others. Color will be king and rough stones queen! Our industry is flourishing with potential and creativity and will continue to be so. American designers will also participate in this movement. The most fabulous time to be alive and involved in this magical industry! It never is about the money. It’s about the talent!”
Jenny Luker, president, PGI
“I think we will see more of the industry embracing the need to develop an omni-channel relationship with customers and those who do will emerge and begin to re-imagine the industry and the important role that we play in consumers’ lives.”
“Modern heirloom jewelry. I’m thinking we’ll see a lot more thoughtful jewelry to hit the scene that tells a story and is finished beautifully. Back to our roots—Italy, Gemany—attention to detail, thoughtful undercarriage, etc.”
Barbara Palumbo, blogger, AdornMentality.com
“I’m calling the end of the big, manly watch trend for women. Back to small cases, a-la 20s/50s/70s.”
Norman M. Miller, publisher, Elite Traveler
Florie Hutchinson, publicist, FHC
“Wearables, wearables, wearables.”
Gary Getz, collector and CEO, Strategos
“Substantial price-level re-set downward industry-wide as major [watch] brands shift from a margin model to a volume model, leaving current owners in the lurch on embedded values of their collections but providing hope for the future.”
Maria Soldier, executive director, Alex Soldier
“Brands selling directly to consumer.”
Benjamin Guttery, @thirdcoastgems
“Jewelry designers going more towards direct selling and/or seeking mutually beneficial relationships with retailers.”
Anders Modig, watch writer
“Crowdfunding taken to a higher level: Swiss-made +10k € watch.”
Rebecca Moskal, partner, Communiqué
“Jewelry designers + brands are going to continue to push towards selling direct to consumers and eliminate retailers as we now know them.”
Michael Pucci, founder, Abbiamo Group
“Think there will be another cleansing of brands and product categories… Incremental sales of jewelry are expanding online and it is going to hurt jewelry retail stores more than ever in 2016. Jewelry retailers will need to reinvent themselves and will need to focus on their businesses.”
My two cents: In addition to the direct-to-consumer phenomenon noted above, expect to see: 1) even more focus on e-commerce, especially from the big luxury brands, which have been shy about selling their products online (until now); 2) the rise of Snapchat as a marketing tool for big and small retailers alike; 3) more brands embracing virtual reality to immerse clients in carefully crafted narratives designed to drive loyalty and sales; and 4) a ruby renaissance that will once again place the storied gem front and center among consumers.
Wishing you a wonderful new year filled with love, prosperity, and good cheer. Hope to see you in 2016!