Future Rock: Editor’s Letter, December 2013–January 2014

When I passed through southern Louisiana in September, one name kept popping up. I was driving to Stuller headquarters in Lafayette when a big pink billboard touting an upcoming Jamie Joseph trunk show at Kiki caught my eye. Then I posted a pic of the Atchafalaya River Basin on Facebook, and designer Erica Courtney urged me to “check out Kiki!”

On my last day in Lafayette, I took the hint. Read “Let’s Have a Kiki” to find out why I knew, the moment I set foot inside the boutique, that we had to feature mother-and-daughter owners Kathryn “Kiki” Frayard and Katie Culbert in our pages. Here’s a clue: The fact that I coveted all the jewelry in their cases, tested out my new favorite scent (from Bond No. 9), and bought a cardigan, a dress, and a pair of patterned trousers before leaving the shop has something to do with it.

As we greet 2014, the shifting nature of jewelry retail is evident all around us. The watch industry is grappling with the dawn of the smartwatch and whether or not it represents the second coming of the quartz crisis that nearly decimated the trade in the 1970s. The diamond industry is grappling with the wave of Chinese synthetics soon to wash up on our shores. And—it’s not all doom and gloom—designers are grappling with how to respond to the boom in body jewelry, like those suddenly ubiquitous “handlets.”

If you combined both types of amethyst in this Mauboussin ring I’m coveting, you’d have Radiant Orchid.

We’ve included our thoughts on these cutting-edge trends and more in “2014: The Year in Preview,” our annual analysis of the most important issues to shape the jewelry business in the year to come.

Trends, of course, only take off when they build upon existing traditions, which explains why the jewelry industry continues to revisit and reinterpret the staples of the jewelry wardrobe. JCK contributor Kristin Young celebrates the best examples of the current crop in “Jewelry Classics Revisited,” our paean to 10 iconic jewelry styles and their remarkable versatility.

For more on what makes contemporary jewelry sales tick, check out “The Booming Business of Jewelry Auctions,” senior editor Rob Bates’ exhaustive survey of the hot-hot-hot auction market, where sales of important diamonds seem to know no limits, and “Pick of the Glitter: 3 Designers Whose Gold Jewelry Is Worth Every Penny,” senior editor Jennifer Heebner’s spotlight on three gold jewelry designers with fresh takes on the precious metal.

Here’s my new Kiki cardigan and trousers—along with one of the store’s signature matchbooks.

That fresh perspective is key. On a basic level, every new year ushers in a host of changes that make it easy to start business anew. Take, for example, Pantone’s new color of the year, Radiant Orchid (see “10 Things Rocking the Jewelry Industry”)—and the rush on amethyst, lavender spinel, and other purply-pink gems it will inevitably inspire.

For more profound changes, I would urge retailers to look beyond the borders that have traditionally defined the jewelry business, in order to reimagine what it is they really do: They sell jewelry, sure, but on a deeper level, they’re selling a future memory—not unlike what Alvin Toffler predicted in his eerily prescient 1970 polemic Future Shock. And if making the shopping experience memorable takes adding some fragrances and a fresh, fun array of merchandise to the standard selection, well, then, have at it!

Best wishes for a prosperous, productive, and positively charmed 2014!

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