Millennials and generation Z were a major topic of discussion, due perhaps to De Beers Group’s recently released Diamond Insight Report 2018, which indicated the two groups will be the world’s most powerful spenders within two years. Jamie Freed, global vice-president of luxury site Farfetch, says a shift in the average age of luxury consumers isn’t far off. As buying power shifts to consumers who have never known a world without cell phones, online shopping will only grow in importance.
“I think if you spoke to someone in the industry five years ago, no one would believe a customer would place an order for a €20,000 pair of earrings online, but they do,” Freed says. “When you have your items on a multi-brand e-commerce platform, what it does is it really opens you and your brand to the world.”
Eleonora Gori, executive vice-president of Graziella Group, says the Internet has even dramatically changed the experience of attending a trade show.
“The sense of being present at the show is much different even from five to six years ago,” she says. “Everyone uses computers. Everything has become digital. You don’t need to sit down with buyers to show them your pieces anymore, because your catalogue can reach everywhere.”
While the advent of the Internet can be unnerving for many in an industry steeped in tradition, it is difficult to deny its power as a marketing tool. Beyond the direct revenue offered through e-commerce, the digital world also serves as a helpful platform for connecting with customers.
“Start looking at social media not in a passive way, but an active way,” de Luca advises. “You want to know what people want? Go on socials. You want to know what people’s values are? Check out the hashtags.”
The sense of accessibility and interconnectivity the Internet brings is seemingly being echoed in the world of design. While fine jewellery was far from absent on the show floor, this year’s VicenzaOro was also characterized by a strong showing of affordable fashion jewellery.
Graziella, for example, has traditionally worked in gold, but as it nears the end of its 60th-anniversary year, it has launched a line of silver jewellery to complement the leather bags made by its new acquisition, Braccialini. Gori says this brings in a crucial element of flexibility.
“When you think of buying gold jewellery, you think of buying something forever,” she points out. “We decided to introduce fashion jewellery because the world is changing. Everything is becoming quicker.”
To keep up with this rapid pace, brands like Brosway have also introduced customizable collections, playing into customers’ preference for asymmetrical, mix-and-match styles.
“Jewellery is not a status symbol anymore,” says Laura Vallesi of the brand’s export department. “You wear fashion accessories based on your mood. You say, ‘Today, I’m wearing a white skirt; why not a golden accessory?’ Or, ‘I don’t have this diamond for life. Just for a day.’”
Similarly, Silvia Damiani says the latest collections from her family’s brand reflect the modern woman’s flexibility.
“Our ‘D.Icon’ collection is a celebration of contemporary women, who want to be glamourous and play with colours,” she says. “We can decide if we want to wear one ring or two and how we mix them with outfits.”
However, designers also made it clear the older generation and its values have not been forgotten. An increasing number of brands are introducing lines that target women in their 40s and 50s. Vallesi, for one, says having a flexible age target is the strongest point in Brosway’s collection.
“Before, it was more dedicated to young women, but now we have more elegant and refined jewellery that targets adult, mature women,” she says. “For us, it’s important to embrace all kinds of women—and men.”
With so many paradigm shifts in the wind, it’s difficult to tell what the jewellery market and its consumers might look like in the coming years. What is certain, however, is the trade is in the midst of an evolution—and its members are eager to adapt and thrive.
VicenzaOro’s next edition will run from January 19 to 23, 2019.