Highlights From Last Week’s Plumb Club Trends Webinar

Last Wednesday, I sat in on a jewelry trends webinar that reaffirmed my fascination with trend forecasting. Presented by the Plumb Club, “Translating Trends: From the runways, red carpets and market at large to your store and showcases” featured three well-respected jewelry trade personalities: Michael O’Connor, Helena Krodel, and Amanda Gizzi. Below, I’ve highlighted the key points from each of their presentations.

Michael O’Connor

Founder of Style & Substance, a marketing and communications firm that specializes in lifestyle brands, O’Connor is often quoted on entertainment shows during awards season and is a familiar face at trade shows and industry events.

“You can’t confuse a trend with a fad because a fad is much more immediate but is much more quickly burned out,” O’Connor said at the beginning of his talk, which focused on three factors that help determine a trend: fashion, the economy, and social shifts.

Fashion

  • Jewelry needs to become bigger, bolder, and more colorful to keep up with fashion.
  • Exotic color combinations, bigger proportions, and mystical, tribal, and spiritual themes are all making their way into jewelry (as seen in the popularity of cabochons, blackened metals, and geometric motifs).

Economic

  • 2014 is predicted to be the best year since the recession. Consumer confidence is growing. We’re seeing gains in hiring.
  • Consumers who’ve been burned by recession are looking for higher perceived value. They’re embracing high/low dressing. People are willing to trade down.
  • Non-contemporary metals and non-precious elements are all finding their way into the fine jewelry space: rubber, leather, all kinds of things that are bringing price points down (or not making them higher).

Social

  • Socially connected younger consumers have been weaned on reality TV. They don’t feel a difference between themselves and celebrities. It used to be that people felt apart from celebrities; today they feel like celebrity is attainable and hence they should be treated as celebrities.
  • Growing interest in eco-friendly, traceable, ethically mined pieces (due to increasingly global mindset), especially during the engagement process.
  • Blurring of traditional roles: male vs. female, casual vs. formal, high vs. low. A consumer might spend money on handbags or shoes or jewels but will trade down in other areas.
  • Men’s jewelry is booming: Johnny Depp is a perfect example. it is estimated that 18 percent of men would wear a man-gagement ring. Shifting ideas about what is okay for a man to do.

Helena Krodel

You probably know Krodel from the decade she spent as the spokesperson for the Jewelry Information Center. Now with Luxe Intelligence, a branding and business development firm based in New York City, the industry veteran called out the specific styles you should be showing in your store this season.

Earrings

  • We’re seeing new forms of earrings: Ear cuffs started years ago, but we’re seeing the trend everywhere now. It’s not the ear cuff you saw in the 1980s, which was very punk rock.

 

The Catch a Falling Star earcuff by Efva Attling

  • There are so many types to choose from: earrings with details, mismatched earrings, ear brooches. They look different, fresh, and modern. There are no parameters or rules with this trend.

Rings

  • The key to wearing rings: It’s really about styling. Bloggers and Pinterest have made this trend come to life.
  • Again, so many types to choose from: Midi rings go in the middle of the finger, knuckle rings, pinky rings, double-finger rings.

 

The Spine ring by AS29 is a great example of a knuckle ring.

  • Hand jewelry will appeal to a small segment of population. We’re seeing it lightly, mostly in metro areas.
  • Any of these rings look very basic, but when they’re all worn together, the look is very fresh. (Back to the personal styling idea.)

Across-the-Board Trends

  • We’re seeing a lot of throwbacks to the 1980s across metal categories (from blackened sterling silver to rose gold). The double-finger rings would probably appeal to a millennial consumer; they certainly are edgier.

 

Double-finger ring by Lucifer vir Honestus

  • Stacking is still going strong: bangles in silver, yellow gold, and blackened metal. Layered smatterings, different colors, different metals, anything goes!
  • Pantone is readily accepted as the authority in color determination. In the fine jewelry industry, it helps us to determine which colored gemstones will be important. Radiant Orchid is color of 2014, which means amethyst, rose quartz, and lavender chalcedony are hot.
  • Other trending styles: punk-vibe jewelry, fringe and tassels, florals (nature has always been an inspiration), tribal flair, chain-link styles (now have a preppy vibe vs. 1980s punk-rock look), and personal talismans.

Amanda Gizzi

As director of public relations & special events for Jewelers of America, Gizzi is a seasoned trend forecaster and a national spokesperson (you’ve probably caught her on your local news channel!). She spoke about how to transform your store into a trend destination and how to utilize trends to increase sales using a six-step process based on the following action items: watch, read, invest, connect, promote, and refresh.

Watch

  • It all begins with being observant. Take time to watch major awards shows.
  • Let’s face it: We live in a celebrity-obsessed world. Write it all down, take part in discussions, and look to trend leaders (Jennifer Lawrence is a great example).
  • It’s not always about the piece—it’s about merchandising (i.e., knowing that rings can be worn in multiples). Understanding this helps you sell up because rings look best stacked together.

Read

  • Young women are still turning to magazines to be trend informed. It’s important to see what magazines are predicting.
  • There are incredible online resources; take time to absorb the content. Style.com is a great resource. It’s very easy to decode what’s happening with colors and styling.

Invest

Connect

  • You now have the potential to increase your customer base. You want to make sure you’re connecting and encouraging your customers to connect with you (ask them how they’d style a trend).
  • It’s a two-way conversation. Make sure you’re using hashtags to allow yourself to be searched and found.

Promote

  • It’s important that people know they can come to you as a trend destination. Promote yourself as a trend leader across all your platforms.
  • On your website, have jewelry trends very visible. Your SEO should be increased by having trends constantly up on your website. Make sure your site is connected directly to your social.
  • Allow people to pin things and share. Your emails should tie back to those Web pages and Web posts, and it should all tie back to your social media—so everything is working harmoniously.

Refresh

  • On average, jewelry turns over 1.1 times per year. If you’re really going to be a trend destination, you need to have new arrivals and make sure you’re promoting them.
  • It’s not just knowing what trends are, it’s carrying them. It’s about increasing sales and bringing in a new customer. Get them to come in before the engagement ring purchase.