The 365-Day Forecast

If you’ve already received the December-January issue of JCK, then you have a pretty good idea of where we think the new year is headed. Our cover feature, “Extended Outlook,” highlights 10 topics we expect to dominate industry conversation in 2013.

But because there’s always room for additional voices, I contacted a handful of people whose opinions I trust and asked them one question: What’s your boldest prediction for 2013?

Without further ado:

“Luxury brands will organize to deliver true omni-channel luxury experiences where consumers will be able to get curated and personalized shopping experiences online and have designated relationship teams to handle their online and offline needs.”—Milton Pedraza, founder and CEO, Luxury Institute

“I think the economy will continue to improve and with Americans being the consumers that they are, the jewelry industry will see an uptick in spending/purchasing. I think it’s going to be a good year for jewelry! Jewelers are going to get more involved in their communities and local charities. And I think there will be more consolidation in the industry.—Yancy Weinrich, group vice president of JCK Events

“Competition for the independent jewelry retailer will continue to grow as designer brand jewelry and timepiece storefronts will continue to open across the country forcing jewelry businesses to rethink their sales strategies and brand communications. Retailers must seek new and innovative product selections to set themselves apart—most importantly, discover new finds to offer their customers. If they don’t, others will. The Internet will continue to shape the world. Social networking and social engagement will continue to increase dramatically and force retailers to rethink their local consumer strategy and embrace the idea of worldwide consumers. Retailers will be forced to prospect beyond their local markets and trading areas.”—Frank Proctor, president and CEO, Luxury Brand Group

“On the heels of a huge natural disaster and many tragic events, it has reminded us that although we don’t have control over such events, the jewelry and luxury industries need to be prepared. In 2013, we are expecting to see an increased focus on safety, security, and protection.”—Patricia Low, president and CEO, Jewelers unBLOCKed Insurance

“There will be more attempts to pass a nationwide Internet sales tax. Even if it doesn’t pass, more local jurisdictions will try to collect taxes from e-sellers (and not just Amazon).

More synthetic diamond companies will enter the market. The technology is pretty widely available, particularly overseas, and many still see it as a market with untapped potential. And more consolidation in the industry. You could even argue industry contraction is just beginning.”—Rob Bates, senior editor, JCK

“Color will remain a hot point for 2013. Tangerine Tango was the hot color of 2012; the focal point of 2013 is balanced neutral colors with a splash of additional color. Sterling silver and 18k gold earrings and cocktail rings with a bold faceted stone add that spark and joy to any outfit.”—Craig MacBean, president, Ostbye

“The increase of men’s jewelry as a self purchase will continue to grow within the marketplace.”—Ori Zemer, vice president, Charriol USA

“U.S. demand could see a real upturn if the economy recovery picks up in earnest and the U.S. dollar does not fall in value. However, the international markets, which had been the fastest growing, will probably slow down for a variety of economic and political reasons. So, while U.S. retailers can probably increase their open-to-buy a little, De Beers and other diamond producers probably will have to continue walking the fine line between raising revenues and managing rough supplies.”—Russell Shor, senior industry analyst, Gemological Institute of America

My personal conviction is that 2013 will be a pivotal year for the fine jewelry business. Five years have passed since the start of the Great Recession and many of the changes set in motion during those difficult times are only now coming to bear on the trade.

Many people have mentioned consolidation and I can’t help but agree—the incredibly shrinking jewelry industry seems to be an inevitable byproduct of the Darwinian struggle the industry currently finds itself in. The weak will surrender, the strong will survive—we’ve heard this story before.

I’d be remiss in not mentioning the looming wave of digital tools that will soon be available to jewelers big and small. According to the law of accelerating change, technological progress is quickening, so don’t be surprised to find yourself grappling with the impact of new and seemingly out-of-the-blue technologies in 2013: 3-D printing and the rise of the maker movement chief among them.

My prediction for 2013’s surest thing? Color. I’m not the first to say it, nor will I be the last: If you aren’t stocking colored stones—especially in your bridal selection—you’re missing the boat. To prove my point, I’ll leave you with a thought from a friend who just emailed me asking for my help in securing his girlfriend an engagement ring:

“Can we do something more interesting than a diamond or do I have to line up with the rest of the suckers?”

May 2013 bring you peace, happiness, and prosperity. Happy New Year!