What Will the Jewelry Industry Be Like in the Year 2069?

As we look back over the past 150 years of JCK, it’s easy to indulge our nostalgia for the way things were. But equally tempting is the urge to look forward and indulge our imagination about the way things will be. Fifty years from now seemed like a good place to land.

Rather than grapple solo with what the future has in store for the jewelry trade and our magazine, we asked 19 of the industry’s best and brightest—people who, like many of us, hope to be around to see 2069—to divine how jewelry retail will evolve over the next ­half-century. Some envision robotic sales clerks and virtual reality experiences to the max. Others expect to read the daily news not on ­today’s tablets or smartphones but via smart chips ­implanted in our brains. Still others imagine a better, more environmentally friendly future, in which mining and manufacturing processes give back rather than detract from the earth and its people.

All told, the forecasts are thoughtful, optimistic, and wacky—and offer a hopeful glimpse of staggering changes to come. 

Lena Agdere“The value of handcrafted jewelry will never be lost, and one-of-a-kind, designer jewelry is here to stay. I truly believe technological advancements can never replace the human element that makes artisan jewelry special.”
—Lena Agdere, designer, Lord Jewelry


Piers Fawkes“By 2069, jewelry will be able to transport you to a different experience. Just pop on the ring, strap on the watch, or clasp the necklace and—if you opted in—you’ll be shifted to another place in your mind that you won’t be able to distinguish from reality. To sell these fine items, jewelers will be fanciful departure gates where shoppers can travel for a few minutes to far-off lands or intimate fantasies as they try different items.”
—Piers Fawkes, founder, president, editor-in-chief, PSFK


Dan Gordon“There will be a renaissance in the need for human interaction, due to being flooded with so much autonomy and digital intake. I believe that in the future, we will go through a period where it will be cooler to be unplugged completely—we’re already seeing that as people take long breaks from their social media accounts.”
—Daniel Gordon, store director, Diamond Cellar


Becky Stone“The production processes of luxury products like jewelry will face increasing amounts of scrutiny for environmental friendliness as living a green life becomes more important to the world, and, simultaneously, more of a status symbol. As younger generations that have grown up with a green message develop more buying power, consumers asking questions about sustainability in jewelry production will become more common. The industry should anticipate this market need—and do its part to help the world—by taking steps to ensure more sustainable production now.”
—Becky Stone, founder and CEO, Diamonds in the Library


Ben SmitheeJCK will be “completely digital, and use of mixed reality will be prevalent. Reporting will no longer be a point in time, but a dashboard that gives real-time data/metrics/analytics and intelligently tells you what is about to happen next.”
—Ben Smithee, CEO, The Smithee Group


Desiree Hanson“Specialty, customization, and customer service will reign. But the biggest challenge I see in the next 50 years is getting someone’s attention. We’re going to have to think creatively on how to capture an audience beyond our current methods—social media, influencers, geo-fencing, beacons, etc. As an industry, we need to stay curious and understand the world will continue to be disrupted. There is a place for everyone, and the curious and strong will survive.”
—Desiree Hanson, VP, WWIN and AXN, Clarion UX


Jordan Tuchband“By 2069, I predict we will see high levels of integration between technology, medicine, augmented reality, and jewelry. Just because a piece of technology provides a convenience or important service doesn’t mean it can’t look fantastic while doing it. Earrings that double as a hands-free microphone? Rings that capture your heart rate, blood oxygen level, and share it with your doctor in real time?”
—Jordan Tuchband, industry vice president, JIS


Jessica Herner“JCK will transform its Las Vegas and Tucson events to create a digitally based, ongoing virtual trade show where vendors can continuously display their wares, database their design copyrights, and allow wholesale clients to do updated shopping around the globe without travel.”
—Jessica Herner, design and illustration, Gem State Concepts


Reena Ahluwalia“I hope adornment will evolve and jewelry will be an experience beyond the physical aspects. I would love to see a world where jewelry is multisensory—­mind-reading devices that can let you project any jewelry, stone, color, form, shape—depending on your mood.”
—Reena Ahluwalia, jewelry designer, painter, and professor


Dave Bindra“The common theme will be the implementation of AI in our business; that’s something that is really going to affect not only how we merchandise product but how people interact with it. A lot of retail stores may not have physical salespeople on the floor. The individual that greets customers when they walk in may be some kind of robotic enterprise that is highly intelligent and already knows something about the client before he or she walks in. Facial recognition will be big because it will allow retailers to target their clients and immediately know how to service their needs. You might even see less actual product in showcases. Instead, you’ll see a VR representation of a piece of jewelry before it’s even made. And, not to sound like I’m extremely biased about colored gemstones, but I think people will place a lot more value on colored gems, thanks to the advent of virtual technology to transport someone to a mine in Sri Lanka and see the journey of how the gem ends up on their wrist. What’s really going to determine how consumers perceive value is how we tell the story of the product, and technology is going to help us.”
—Dave Bindra, vice president, B & B Fine Gems


Lisa Nikfarjam“My boldest prediction is that all retail will be delivery based, and real estate will serve as a showcase for viewing only. The instant gratification may disappear entirely, making impulse purchases a thing of the past.”
—Lisa Nikfarjam, president, Lisa Nik


Ryan Karolak“By 2069, everything will be 100% digital, 3D, and highly responsive. Instead of flipping through pages, the reader will be traveling through three-dimensional presentations engineered specifically for their perceived interests.”
—Ryan Karolak, cofounder, Edelweiss Jewelry


Laura Chavez“I see jewelry that can change appearance at your technological command—maybe it will change even when you don’t command it, reading your mood or what colors/style you’re wearing or thinking about, and the piece evolves in front of your eyes. Saying that, I think, Isn’t that crazy? But at the rate things are progressing, it could happen sooner than 50 years!”
—Laura Chavez, founder, Lark & Berry


Kaitlin Derkach“I see autonomous robotics playing a much larger role in the industry, meaning that we will need to create more inventive job roles for those overseeing the safety and security of tasks being achieved by AI.”
—Kaitlin Derkach, VP, integrated marketing communications, The Promotion Factory


Carolyn Thamkul“If sci-fi predictions hold true, in 2069, news media will take the form of psionic bytes of data uploaded directly into people’s brains. JCK will provide that data. I see JCK maintaining its identity as a beacon of information and a resource for how to do business in the industry.”
—Carolyn Thamkul, executive vice president, Belle Étoile


Michael Schechter“There’s no question that jewelry retailers will need to embrace many emerging technologies in the years to come. That said, worry less about what’s trendy and focus more on innovations that enhance your ability to offer customers exceptional service alongside a more personalized selection. In the face of limitless choices in the hands of a radically more knowledgeable consumer, it’s those who leverage new technology to earn trust that will continue to thrive well beyond 2069.”
—Michael Schechter, director of customization, Richline Digital


Stephen Pulvirent“Buying watches is becoming more about community and customer experience every day. The very best retailers will be just as much community spaces for enthusiasts as places to purchase things. Whether a customer leaves the store with a new watch, a new strap, or just some knowledge they didn’t have before, that will be considered a win.”
—Stephen Pulvirent, managing editor, Hodinkee; co-author, The Watch, Thoroughly Revised


Levi Higgs“In the year 2069, jewelry will have evolved to encapsulate tangible human emotions. Technological advances will allow for brain waves to finally align with crystal structures of gemstones and harmonize emotional responses in the vicinity of a jewel. History and gemstone lore have foretold that particular gems emit an aura of influence over certain emotions, and being able to tap into these innate powers is soon to be within our grasp. One can dream!”
—Levi Higgs, jewelry and decorative arts historian; archivist, David Webb


Benjamin Guttery“People are going to be shopping everywhere: in their driverless cars, while they’re walking around. Eye-detection technology will be the norm. Say they walk past a billboard or a poster—they can glance at what they see, blink twice, and get that ring, those earrings, or that pearl bracelet delivered to their house.”
—Benjamin Guttery, founder, Third Coast Gems


(Illustration: Mario Wagner)

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