Francesca Simons created her eponymous public relations firm in 2016 and represents a portfolio of impressive clients in the jewelry industry. Like many jewelers in the industry, PR firms and their employees have had to be versatile—whether that means transitioning to working from home to finding new ways to represent their clients in a world where events and much in-store shopping has come to a stop. (In April, Emili Vesilind profiled how Simons is managing.)
Apart from the changes to her company’s inner workings (invaluable antidotes for those looking to learn how to deal), Simons has witnessed her clients undergo changes too. And it’s in those changes that trends have blossomed—both in jewelry itself and the way that customers are shopping for it.
JCK talked with Simons, a fitting choice to speak about how fine jewelers are surviving and thriving in a time of pandemic, about being flexible with your business, how global location is affecting businesses, and some of the biggest trends to come out of quarantine.
Have any of your clients had to postpone incoming collections due to COVID-19 restrictions?
Yes, absolutely. My emerging designer clients have had to postpone all custom work and new collections since March due to production and the factories in downtown Los Angeles and New York’s 47th Street being closed. There was no way around it, so all came to a complete stop.
Have any switched gears to create new pieces to meet the wave of current trends?
My client Ashley Zhang shifted focus toward their vintage and antique jewelry collections. They have since started slowly launching new designs and not really focusing on any larger collection launches. They have found through this process, keeping inventory new and exciting by adding in new vintage items or new collection items freely has been more enticing for their clients.
What are brands doing to stay resilient at this time?
Brands are focusing internally—making sure employees are able to thrive and keep healthy and safe in current times. Key messaging throughout has been not to dwell on what we can’t do and focus on what we can do. Since things have reopened, this positive attitude is really what has pushed us all through, to make better decisions for the company moving forward past this.
You work with a number of different brands, some of them not located in the States. Are you noticing that their global location has had a greater impact on their businesses (production, sales, etc.) during the pandemic?
Certain clients based in Greece, Italy, and the U.K. had a larger impact as the European factories were closed, and they were not able to ship to the U.S. One of my U.S. clients produces in Italy, and her entire orders from the beginning of March were stuck in Italy, and so the deliveries to the U.S. retailers were stuck at the very beginning of the pandemic. Huge delays occurred here, and they were not able to obtain goods to sell. All was stuck at a standstill.
Despite the shutdown and absence of many styling opportunities, fashion and jewelry trends have still managed to endure. Why do you think that is, and what do you think the biggest trend to come out of quarantine is?
I think jewelry has been a very popular retail category during quarantine. Many people are not able to celebrate life events such as anniversaries, birthdays, births, etc. Jewelry has always been a highly sentimental and symbolic purchase, so it’s a great way to celebrate these missed events. I think the biggest trend is that we are all learning to purchase more wisely and only the essentials.
Do you think that trend will endure beyond the pandemic?
Yes. I think the shutdown forced many of us to slow down and rethink our lifestyles and purchases, and I think purchasing investment pieces that will last will be the enduring trend. Personal jewelry will always be a strong trend. Whether it’s birthstones or hand-engraving or initials. It makes people feel connected.
What’s the best jewelry to wear with a face mask?
I find that some earrings get caught in the face mask straps, so I recommend necklaces. I have been wearing some heavier pieces and layering chains with different charms based on my mood or outfit. With a mask it’s difficult to show your jewelry, but I think simple gold hoops are safe from catching and also a classic.
What do you think will be the top three jewelry trends this coming holiday season?
Personalized jewelry, like birthstones and engravings; face mask chains (I love the new Grace Lee styles); and hearts.
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