Key markets like China have seen jewellers with weak brand value and/or cash flows eradicated, putting the industry in an overall healthier position (World Gold Council). Jewellery sales in China recorded a 93.4 per cent year on year increase in the first quarter of 2021, surpassing catering and automobile to rank as the number one selling consumer goods segment for the period. (National Bureau of Statistics of China).
Keen to capture one of the fastest growing categories in luxury consumer goods, high-end apparel players can be seen introducing or expanding their jewellery collections, with Giorgio Armani Privé, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Hermès and Gucci all debuting their first high jewellery collections as recently as 2019. Highlighting the huge cross-category marketing potential that jewellery has to offer, Chanel and Louis Vuitton recently utilized statement jewellery lines to depict their iconic handbag motifs on the Spring 2021 catwalk. (Harpers Bazarre).
Indie companies willing and able to quickly adapt to digital platforms experienced as much as triple digit growth during the pandemic; including independent labels Gorjana and Kendra Scott as reported by Forbes.
The jewellery industry is known for its reliance on direct interaction, and despite a gradual increase in digital sales in recent years, up to 90% of jewellery retailers still do not have an online presence [MarketOrders 2020 ] With high-value commodities literally ‘passing hands’ this traditional supply chain is known to be time consuming and difficult to track.
In the second half of 2020, Online B2B marketplace MarketOrders announced that it will soon be introducing a revolutionary form of blockchain technology aimed at increasing transparency (not to mention profit margins) across the industry. The digitization “enables independent jewellery retailers to source products quickly and cost-effectively directly from global manufacturers, cutting the time it takes to get products delivered from weeks and months to days.”
Ensuring airtight accountability, this global ledger will also support the industry’s move towards sustainable and ethical materials and processes that are aligned with the values of today’s more mindful consumers. With blockchain already being used to validate the provenance and increase the value of luxury items like diamonds, this progress signals a more conscious future ahead for the industry at large.
In order to minimise delays caused by travel restrictions and social distancing, Alrosa (who lead the world in diamond mining by volume) stepped up the use of their online rough trading platform that launched in 2019. The Sarine Technologies scanning software evaluates the polished output and overall profitability of physical rough diamonds, enabling online buyers to collaborate virtually with external teams and factories without ever being physically present.
IBM, Google and Microsoft are supporting the Gem & Jewellery Skill Council of India (GJSCI) who commenced a 2021 pilot project studying the application of artificial intelligence in jewellery casting. Beyond design, the technology is already being earmarked for use right across the supply chain with the aim of regulating gold quality, enhancing sales techniques, improving hit ratios and personalising customer services.