After the Supreme Court ruled on June 26 that same-sex marriages are legal, the jewelry industry flooded social media with photos of rainbow-hued jewels (#LoveWins). “Same-sex marriages will be a much larger pillar of the wedding industry than ever before,” says New York City designer and longtime marriage equality supporter Rony Tennenbaum. “It is now a niche that cannot be ignored.” Wall Street agreed: Tiffany & Co., Blue Nile, and Signet all received stock bumps after the ruling.
It’s not just diamonds that are raising the roof at auctions: On May 13, the 25.59 ct. Burmese Sunrise ruby sold for $30.3 million at Sotheby’s Geneva—far outpacing its $12 million–$18 million estimate and setting a record not just for a ruby but for any non-diamond jewel. It now stands as the most expensive colored gemstone ever sold. In a statement, Sotheby’s worldwide jewelry chairman David Bennett expressed his “awe” of the blood-red gem: “In over 40 years, I cannot recall ever having seen another Burmese ruby of this exceptional size possessing such outstanding color.” Or price.
Judith Light: the red-carpet boss in an Elie Saab jumpsuit
Once we got over the shock of seeing Vogue editrix Anna Wintour sans sunglasses, we noticed a few trends at the 2015 Tony Awards at New York’s Radio City Music Hall: men in navy tuxedos—including ceremony cohost Alan Cumming, Finding Neverland star Matthew Morrison, and presenters Dulé Hill and Harry Connick Jr.—and women in diamonds. A few of our favorite ice queens: two-time Tony winner Judith Light in super-stylish Nina Runsdorf hoops; Gigi star Vanessa Hudgens, all aglow in Norman Silverman fancy yellow earrings and rings; Chicago alum Jennifer Nettles in dazzling Chopard openwork drops; and Helen Mirren, a Best Actress winner for her turn as Queen Elizabeth in The Audience, regal in Suzanne Belperron Art Deco ear clips from Fred Leighton. No word what Wintour—who called last year’s Tony fashion “a disaster”—thought of the June 7 sparkle-fest.
4. Social Media
Until now, social media giant Pinterest has allowed users to “pin” favored items. Now, however, the red Pin it button will be joined by a blue Buy it button—another sign that social media sites are becoming direct avenues for commerce. Macy’s, Nordstrom, and Neiman Marcus have already signed up for the service, which is otherwise limited to retailers that use the Shopify and Demandware commerce platforms. Pinterest—which will not take a cut of the sales—expects to host 2 million buyable pins by the end of June.
5. Lab-Grown Gems
Lab-grown diamonds are getting bigger—and more prevalent. At JCK Las Vegas, St. Petersburg, Russia–based New Diamond Technology displayed a 10 ct. man-made stone—graded E VS1 by IGI Hong Kong—a new benchmark in the field of diamond growing. But perhaps more significant is the increasing number of mainstream retailers carrying them: You can now find the created gems at Helzberg Diamonds, Rogers & Hollands, and Sam’s Club.
Just weeks after going public, craft site Etsy has to cope with a potentially formidable new competitor: Amazon. In May, the e-tail giant approached Etsy regulars about selling their wares on Handmade on Amazon, its new marketplace for handmade goods. On Etsy forums, posters expressed a mix of wariness and excitement. Given the controversies on Etsy over what constitutes a craft, most Amazon supporters hoped the new site would be limited to grassroots artisans. “If it remains true to the ethos of handmade,” one wrote, “buyers will flock there.”
Lately, thousands of brides have displayed their engagement bling on social media, in what has become known as the ring selfie. But Jewelers Mutual Insurance Co. is worried the phenomenon might make brides-to-be targets for thieves. The insurer recommends posters not flash expensive bling to the general public and limit showing pictures to friends and family. They should also disable location settings. “We don’t want to frighten people or cause fear,” says Jewelers Mutual spokesperson Jessica VandenHouten. “But with wedding season coming up, it is just something to be cautious of.”
In May, the GIA sent shock waves through the trade by announcing that as many as 500 diamonds had been treated with a previously unknown process that temporarily improves the stone’s color. One month later, the Antwerp, Belgium, branch of the International Gemological Institute revealed that it had received the treated stones as well. The IGI believes the treatment is a coating, but can’t figure out its chemical composition; GIA scientists aren’t saying much publicly, but believe they are close to an answer. “We know what is being done,” says Phil Yantzer, vice president of GIA’s Carlsbad, Calif., lab services, “but we don’t know how it is being done.”
It attracted some 750,000 gold fans, mostly in the coveted millennial demographic. Yet earlier this year, the World Gold Council spun off its popular LoveGold site, part of a general cessation of jewelry marketing. The team that built the site still believes in it and is casting about for potential partners. “We have a fantastic community that is very engaged,” says the WGC’s former managing director of jewelry, Sally Morrison. “We just have to find a way to give the site commercial life.”
The watch and jewelry industry still lags behind other industries in establishing e-commerce sites, with many high-end jewelers reluctant to sell online, according to a new report from digital research firm L2. One-quarter of the brands that did sell online had a separate e-boutique, which requires extra clicks and hurts the customer experience, explains L2 founder Scott Galloway. “Many watch and jewelry brands, including Rolex, Hublot, and Boucheron, still treat their products as Fabergé eggs,” he writes, “not to be tarnished by e-commerce.”