In the wake of the protests that erupted across the country in late May over the brutal killing of George Floyd, the industry embarked on a much-needed conversation about systemic racism and how to create a more diverse and inclusive environment for BIPOC jewelers.
While change this dramatic doesn’t happen overnight, there are reasons to be optimistic. For one thing, many white people in our industry are engaging in frank, uncomfortable, and deeply meaningful discussions about racism and the role it plays in our ancient trade.
What emerges from those dialogues is hard to predict, but if you’re hopeful, as I am, you’ll envision a future like the one Greenwich St. Jewelers co-owner Jennifer Gandia, a passionate advocate for racial justice, described in “The Roaring 2020s,” a roundup of views on how jewelry retail will change in the months and years to come: “I want us to listen to all marginalized groups in this industry—give them a seat at the table or, better yet, support them building their own tables and follow their lead into a new epoch in jewelry that is rich in diversity at all levels.”
The importance of amplifying BIPOC voices is just one of the realizations about the future of retail that’s emerged from this mad, mad, mad, mad year. The mission-critical role of digital fluency is another. Prognosticators are saying that 50% of retail will be e-commerce–driven by 2025. The upshot for jewelers: If you’re not prepared to offer your customers a seamless experience, from your digital channels to your physical store, then you may as well start planning your closing sale (online, naturally).
For retailers now looking to meet their bridal clients virtually, contributing editor Amy Elliott shares, in “The Zoom Where It Happens,” resources and strategies to take advantage of the booming love business in the age of COVID-19.
Amy also penned the feature that accompanies “Stack the Deco,” a luscious still life showcasing contemporary art deco–inspired jewels, in which she explores the century-old period’s enduring relevance.
Of course, the rarefied world of high-end deco jewelry isn’t the only place to find standout designs. In “High Five,” JCK’s Brittany Siminitz profiles a quintet of brands making inventive keepsake jewels that also happen to be affordable. Like the earrings featured above—by Yenaé, a fashion jewelry brand cofounded by two longtime friends who met in their native Ethiopia—the designs in Britt’s piece are rich in storytelling and heritage. Now, that’s something we can all bring to the table.
Top: Telsom ear crawler in 14k gold–plated brass with chrysoprase; $90; Yenaé Collection; 571-344-3848; yenae.com
(Gomelsky photograph by Nicholas A. Prakas; hair and makeup: Claudia Andreatta/Halley Resources)