High jewelry always represents wealth and taste. These days lots of luxury brands start to make fine jewelry. There have never been more new players than ever before in this sector.
The demand especially in Asia
Work of Wallace Chan
The demand of fine jewelry increases rapidly thanks to Asian consumers. According to Ruder Finn & Co, 74% consumers from Mainland China had bought jewelry products in the past 12 months. As keeping wealthy is a strong tradition, Chinese people tend to put their investment in property, gold and jewelry. On the other hand, the younger generation has received much better education than before. Many of them have an international background and interest in fashion. Old-style 24k jewelry could not satisfy this new generation.
The new tech in manufacture
Jewelry has been a historical and mysterious sector for a longtime. A brand needs a lot of jewelry experts working together and risks are everywhere. Luckily, the new technologies make the sector more transparent. The design is more precise, and manufacture is more efficient than before. Traditional lost wax casting methods often take 14 days from waxy models to metal products. With computer technology and 3D printing technology, the time to produce from digital models to metal products only needs 30% of the previous method.
In addition, new materials such as titanium that are used in other industrial fields before are now adopted in the jewelry industry. As a result, technology is more transparent, and traditional jewelry brands no longer have manufacturing secrets.
What kinds of brands have the possibility to reach this sector?
Support from big groups
We can see that the successful jewelry collections in recent years all come from luxury brands under the big groups. For example, as early as 11 years ago, Dior fine jewelry began. Louis Vuitton and Gucci have recently been active in fine jewelry. These brands are supported by big groups.
This is because the jewelry industry requires a very large amount of capital to invest in raw materials, expertise and marketing. The brands’ original fashion and leather goods divisions brought sufficient cash flow to these companies, giving them the ability to invest in the fine jewelry sector.
Star creative director
Source: The Jewellery Editor
Creative directors and design teams are critically important. Hiring a creative jewelry designer can make the brand successful. The best example is Victoire de Castellane, who has been Dior’s fine jewelry director for 20 years. She not only brought fresh designs to the jewelry industry, but also gained the affection from collectors and consumers. Dior’s collections Rose de Vents and Bois de Rose have even become the first choice of young people who want to buy their first fine jewelry.
A less successful example is Celine. Although the fashion director Hedi Slimane is well known and Celine launched its fine jewelry after he took office, the collection is conservative and lacks attractive designs. Since then Celine’s fine jewelry has been hovering out of sight.
The advantage fashion and luxury brands have
Fashion and luxury brands have another advantage over traditional jewelry brands, which is they are rich in elements. Luxury brands and fashion houses have richer stories developed by founders and designers. These allowed luxury brands to make surprisingly high jewelry. For example, Louis Vuitton’s high jewelry series is designed around its classic pattern “monogram”.
Another example is Gucci. The creative director Alessandro Michele revived Gucci fashion, and the Gucci team turned to fine jewelry. Its first fine jewelry collection has a very strong Gucci style, attractive and bright, using precious gems to shape the Gucci jewelry universe. Compared with the classic and elegant style of Louis Vuitton high jewelry, Gucci jewelry is more like an active performer in the fine jewelry club.
Which brand will win this camping? What is the challenge?
Launching fine jewelry collection is also risky. The first question for brands is whether the brand image can be recognized by consumers. Brands need to make customers think that their brand is sufficiently luxury and exclusive to be worthy as fine jewelry.
The second question is professionalism, not only for jewelry products but also the professional knowledge of sales staff. The fine-jewelry divisions of most luxury brands are relatively independent. It also needs to be separated from fashion jewelry when it comes to selling. Fine jewelry is located on different floors from the fashion section in department stores, and most brands hire professional jewelry salespeople to serve customers.
It is also a very serious issue to distinguish between the fashion jewelry that brands already have and their new high jewelry. Because the elements are similar and target customers are from the same customer bases. This shows the ability of the brand to negotiate and coordinate. Brands who have the money to invest in fine jewelry often hire different creative directors to be in charge of fashion jewelry and fine jewelry. The personal styles of these creative directors should be different from each other but also consistent with the overall positioning of the brand.
Liyuan WANG, MSc. International Luxury Industries Marketing and Management, Class of 2020