The Jewelry District, Episode 77: Signet Acquires Blue Nile, Fall Fashion Trends


You’ll hear JCK editor-in-chief Victoria Gomelsky and news director Rob Bates discuss Signet’s acquisition of Blue Nile, what it means for the brand, and how it might evolve as a result. Victoria reports on her research into fall’s biggest fashion trends, which include animal motifs and a resurgence of the power-dressing era of the ’80s and ’90s.

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Show Notes
03:00 Signet is acquiring Blue Nile
12:00 Victoria reports on the latest in fall fashion
19:00 1980s and ’90s jewelry styles are on trend

Episode Credits
Hosts: Rob Bates and Victoria Gomelsky
Producer and engineer: Natalie Chomet
Plugs: @jckmagazine

Show Recap

Signet to Acquire Blue Nile
Big news in the dog days of August: Signet is acquiring Blue Nile. This is part of Signet’s pattern: It keeps acquiring the competition. One of the things current management is focused on is growing market shares. And purchasing the e-tailer is the easiest way to accomplish that. However, there are high customer acquisition costs that have to be paid to Google and Facebook. Google, Facebook, and other companies like them have gotten so large, it places a burden on the competition because of the high expense of advertising online. Rob sees this as a troubling sign on a higher level.

The deal will likely contribute to the long-term sustainability of Blue Nile’s brand. But people worry when so many businesses are consolidated under one large umbrella. Victoria wonders how Blue Nile might evolve under Signet. It’s not clear now where the brand will fit in among the other jewelry brands that Signet owns.

Victoria recalls the interesting things that Blue Nile has done in recent years—its 10 x 10 collaboration with De Beers and designers of color, for example. It wants to be a brand that speaks to people, not “the Amazon of jewelry.”

Themes in Fall Fashion
Victoria has been doing research into the latest fall fashion trends and reporting on them in the JCK Special Report newsletters. Here are a few themes she’s been noticing, to help inform what jewelers may want to stock. A surprising but endearing trend gaining steam is animal-inspired jewelry. Though this has been going on for thousands of years, there are times when the motif resurges. Victoria spoke to an expert on this category: Marion Fasel, jewelry historian and founder and editorial director of The Adventurine. She worked on the Beautiful Creatures exhibit at New York’s American Museum of Natural History. The two animals that come up over and over again, according to Fasel? Snakes and butterflies.

Snakes, which can symbolize wisdom and eternal love, have a beautiful shape that lends itself to jewelry. The butterfly has emerged in many jewelry collections this year. Symbolizing rebirth and transformation, it is particularly resonant right now, as we begin to emerge from the pandemic. Victoria describes some collections she’s seen that feature interesting creatures as pendants. In the vintage space, sales of animal-inspired pieces are soaring. The zodiac trend also contributes to the popularity of the animal theme, since many zodiac symbols are animals.

1980s Jewelry Makes a Comeback
Though it might be surprising, jewelry from the ’90s can now technically be considered vintage. And, according to many estate jewelers, the ’80s and ’90s aesthetic of jewelry is coming back. Part of the reason is because these pieces are coming into the market. But it’s more than that. Victoria explains “the golden 40-year rule.” A wave of nostalgia comes over the creators of pop culture and fashion of their childhood as they age. As a result, fashion eras make a comeback after a certain amount of time has passed.

The power-dressing vibe complemented by big, glamorous, bold jewels is returning. Though it might be out of step with the economy, the trend still exists within our current environment. How does it translate to jewelry? Big chains (think Madonna’s pile-on phase), large dramatic hoops, and other big, bold styles. Even though Gen Z doesn’t remember the ’80s, they may be drawn to these looks as well. The thing about jewelry trends is they always come back.

Other motifs and trends that are coming into their own are turquoise, the evil eye, and other protective symbols. A single “wow” piece may start to take the place of dainty layers. When prices go up, mixed metals tend to gain more popularity too. There’s a fascinating mix of cool jewelry out there right now, and Victoria hopes people will take advantage of it.

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