I was out to dinner with a couple of girlfriends from college recently when the conversation turned to Snapchat, the photo- and video-sharing app seemingly beloved by millennials and profoundly misunderstood by everyone else.
“I don’t get it,” my friend Anna confessed, as she Googled her way to a Quora page full of praise for Snapchat’s “social engagement loop”: “It may look like a toy but underneath the buzz is a beautifully designed app for personally connecting with friends.”
If you’re anything like me, you’ll need a little more convincing. In that case, check out our annual year-in-preview feature, “New & Next: 10 Hot Retail Topics for 2016,” which includes an item on Snapchat. The reason we believe the app belongs on a list of the top 10 things retailers need to know in the new year? That’s easy: It’s the fastest growing social network of 2015. And brands, from Alex and Ani to BaubleBar, are gaga for it.
Our forecast, however, highlights a lot more than the latest social media sensation. We’ve taken a page from our favorite daily newsletter (besides our own!), the Skimm, and provided bite-size summaries of the industry’s most compelling issues—lab-grown diamonds, same-sex marriage, and ethical and sustainable sourcing chief among them.
As you’ll see, the tide is turning in support of jewelry that comes through a transparent, and ethical, supply chain—one reason why we sent news director Rob Bates to Lima, Peru, in September. While there, he learned about a government-sponsored effort to promote Peruvian-made jewelry to American consumers. Whet your appetite for the country’s rich jewelry heritage by reading Rob’s fascinating feature, “South American Hustle: Inside Peru’s Ambitious Jewelry Export Program.”
The gold jewelry market on the brink of 2016 is the subject of senior editor Jennifer Heebner’s “Gold Call: Why Retailers (and Customers) Are Seeing Yellow,” and after reading it, you’re bound to agree with us: Go gold or go home. The once-prohibitively priced metal has returned to earth, and the nation’s chain jewelers couldn’t be happier, a sure sign that retailers everywhere should be jumping on the gilded bandwagon.
Elsewhere in this festive year-end issue, we celebrate the online stories that garnered the most clicks in 2015, the vogue for jewelry that makes you laugh (“Show Me the Funny”), and, last but not least, the JCK Tucson show, coming to the desert city in early February, just in time for Gem Week.
Stephen Webster earrings with Gemfields rubies, exclusively for Bergdorf Goodman
That reminds me: My own forecast for the year to come includes a heavy dose of gemstones, particularly of the red variety: rubies, rubellite, spinel, you name it. You might have noticed that on Dec. 1, Christie’s Hong Kong sold the Crimson Flame ruby for $18 million, a world-record per-carat price for the gem. The auction house’s Vickie Sek proclaimed it “the year of the ruby,” which I prefer to interpret as a sign that 2016 is going to be—fingers crossed—red hot.
Here’s wishing you and your loved ones a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year!
Top: K. Brunini Jewels’ Melissa Barbano, my twin sister, Julia, and me at the WJA LA Mega Mixer holiday party on Dec. 2 (that’s Communiqué’s Rebecca Moskal in back!)
Gomelsky photograph by Steven Simko