JEWELLERY EDITORIAL

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2015/05/27

It seems that where ever you go people are constantly looking at their smart phones. Traditional sales people often find it frustrating to pry a someone’s attention away from their phone. 

 

So why not use your customer’s phones to get their attention and help you make a sale?

2 new ways to use smartphones in your jewellery store

 

Beacons

Beacons are a new, fast growing technology that lets you capture customers through their smartphones. A beacon is a close proximity network that connects directly to a mobile device through low energy Bluetooth(BLE.) Apps like Apple’s iBeacon listen for signals from nearby beacons and sound an alert. The user then checks their phone to find your message. This is already in use for grocery stores and department stores. In the very near future, more apps will be beacon aware. This is a natural addition to travel and shopping apps.
 

There are several ways to use beacons in your jewellery store. When a shopper nears your store, a beacon message can motivate them to come in. Imagine a customer walking past your store getting a message that it is good time to get their jewellery cleaned for free. Once inside your store a beacon can tell them about today’s specials. In a large store, several beacons can be used to track the customer through different departments providing offerings in each department. Since most people will research online, why not make it easy for them and beam a 4Cs buying guide as they approach your diamond counter?
 

There are several companies offering beacon solutions to retailers. This is a good time to get an early start on this rapidly expanding marketing technology.

 

Payments

Many retailers are bypassing traditional credit card processors in favour of mobile based card readers like Square and Paypal Here. The advantages are zero start-up costs, no monthly fees and almost instant access to funds. It is a great way for a new business to accept cards without the bother of applying for a credit card processor. It is especially helpful for selling at trade shows, street fairs and travelling wholesalers. You no longer need to be tied to a phone system.
 

But smartphones could eventually make cash and credit cards obsolete. Apps like Google Wallet and Apple Pay allow a customer to pay directly from their phones or smart watches…no physical card needed. Tied to your POS system, a transaction can take place anywhere on the sales floor without the need to stand in a queue at a checkout counter. Currently in development is PayPal Beacon, a Bluetooth device that will connect your POS system with the PayPal app on a customers' smartphone when they enter a store. Customers will simply say they're paying with PayPal, and the transaction will be automatically completed.
 

Modern consumers want a super convenient, dynamic customer experience. Mobile technology can make that a reality.

 


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2015/05/26

A long-term pending demand of India’s jewellery industry to set up a modern Exhibition & Convention Centre in Mumbai is recently accepted by the Maharashtra government. In fact the industry is lucky enough to get more than it had expected when Chief Minister (CM) of the state Mr. Devendra Fadnavis recently declared to set up a ‘Jewellery and Knowledge Park’ in 500 acres with all modern infrastructures like Training Institute, Research Centre, residences for employees, hostel, schools and hospitals including an Exhibition and Convention Centre near Mumbai.
 

Mr. Fadnavis made this announcement at a function organized by India Bullion & Jewellery Association Ltd (IBJA) wherein he also instructed Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) to locate and allot a suitable plot for the ambitious project. The CM said,

"Skill development is the prime focus of the Maharashtra government. We are keen on taking a major step by joining the national programme of 'Make in India' and my government's initiative of 'Make in Maharashtra'." He also assured the gems and jewellery industry during the function of providing all required help to boost the exports.

 

India has a potential to become a global jewellery manufacturing hub

India has a potential to become a global jewellery manufacturing hub

 

Mr. Fadnavis emphasized that India’s gems and jewellery industry which engages 35-40 lakh workforce, has employment potential of providing jobs to one crore if better opportunities and infrastructure are created through the proposed smart city. It will also help the country in enhancing its share in value addition and upgrade workers skills.
 

The proposed Jewellery and Knowledge Park, expected to come up near Mumbai’s Panvel or Khopoli suburbs is estimated to cost INR 3,500 crore. It would be set up on a land of 500 acres which would have a dedicated zone for manufacturing and related activities on 300 acres. The project is expected to be complete within a period of 7 to 10 years.
 

As far as growth of India’s gem & jewellery sector is concerned, a recent report published by credit rating agency ICRA says,

“India’s domestic gold jewellery industry is also expected to grow by 8 to 10% in the medium to long-period. The said growth would be mainly driven by increasing penetration of the organized sector and refining consumer sentiments.”

 

The ICRA report further mentions that gold jewellery demand in India has strong cultural underpinnings in long term and this would be driven by evolving lifestyle and growing disposable income, especially in Tier 2, Tier 3 cities and rural markets which account for a major chunk of the demand. The report also adds that a majority of the eight leading jewellers it surveyed have seen a moderation in 2013-14 and 2014-15 due to the impact of weak demand and rising competitive pressures. This was founded on an analysis of store-level metrics, including same store sales progress, Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) and revenue per sq. ft. ICRA however, estimates that this would change leading to a 4% to 8% growth on many of these parameters.
 

With the help assured by the CM of Maharashtra, India’s gem and jewellery industry (the second largest foreign exchange earner for the country with 13% share in 2013-14), hopes to increase it further through value addition and upgrading workers' skills. India has a potential to become a global jewellery manufacturing hub. After downtrend for the past three years, gems and jewellery industry has started looking up and we will achieve the glory once again, the industry leaders here feel.

 


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2015/05/22

It appeared in the New York Times and it included quotes by Philippe Mellier, the chief executive of De Beers. Therefore it became quite the topic on social media with US industry “experts” jumping in to comment. 

However, judging from their comments—ranging from applauding an e-commerce solution for a single boutique luxury retailer to another pity party over younger consumers choosing electronics over jewellery—it’s pretty clear they didn’t read the story. 

Mellier was specifically talking about the diamond industry in the story, which for the past 100 years operated like no other industry on this planet. It received easy bank financing without revealing its financials. It received the money despite selling a product whose value is based largely on documents with methodology as subjective as they are objective, and the exceptional marketing and advertising campaigns by De Beers. And it received funding despite conducting business largely without oversight.

Now with the post-recession economy and new government oversight banks are scrutinizing these businesses the same as they would any other business. They are finding that investing in the diamond industry isn’t a good thing, according to the article, except for those “good companies that are transparent and profitable and are bankable,” Erik Jens, chief executive of diamond and jewellery clients at ABN Amro, said in the story.

De Beers also has tightened the financial requirements for its sightholders. 

Mellier and De Beers recognize that “The tension is not coming from demand, which is still growing…. It is coming from the change in the industry.”

The business model has to change, not only because of bank lending, but to be more flexible and quicker to adjust to the marketplace—whether it’s fashion trends, sudden supply-side changes or even geopolitical tensions. 

De Beers recognizes this largely because it has to. It is no longer the independent entity that feeds the diamond and jewellery industry with products and marketing. It is now a very small part of a large corporate operation. Its first priority is to its corporate leadership and shareholders. That’s why in many ways De Beers is competing with the industry by launching its own branded retail stores and diamond jewellery brand; and refusing to lower prices for its sights. 

But sometimes even De Beers can be its own worst enemy. In the “Executive Summary” of its 2014 Diamond Insights Reports, it sees the top priority for the diamond industry as, “safeguarding and nurturing the diamond dream—that is, the allure that diamonds have for consumers, based on their association with romance and a sense of the eternal, and the fact that they are seen as a lasting source of value.”

The flipside of this is that it also means maintaining the veil over the not so romantic aspects of the diamond industry. In this changing world, nothing has changed so dramatically as the instantaneous way information is spread across the globe. Bad news about the diamond industry will get to people. De Beers and the rest of the diamond industry don’t have a way to respond. 

 


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2015/05/20

The diamond industry took another blow with the release of GIA’s Laboratory Alert concerning close to 500 diamonds recently submitted with an undisclosed, temporary treatment that improves the colour by as much as 3 grades. Four companies have been blocked from further submissions pending research and investigation. The troubling part is the fact that the treatments went undetected and GIA admits they still have not identified the treatment process. Apparently, the treatment was only discovered when the diamonds later changed colour to lower grades.
 

This raises several questions in my mind. First and foremost: are there other unknown treatments that have slipped past the GIA screening process? Could there be treatments that have not been detected? So far this news seems to have only been released to the trade. What will happen when the public becomes aware of this? Recent news stories about over grading by EGL International and other labs have already shaken consumer confidence in the diamond grading process. Now we have a treatment that even has GIA stumped. If those of us in the trade can’t trust GIA to deliver consistent, accurate reports will consumers be able to trust any lab?

 

Undisclosed treatments are only the tip of the iceberg.

New techniques are being developed all the time. Labs can only play catch-up to advancing technology. The profit motive for keeping new treatments secret will insure that the labs will be the last to know. In the current case, if the treatment was permanent we might never know of its existence. A few tweaks to that unknown process could make that a reality. By the time the labs discover the treatments and find a way to detect them, the treaters will be moving on to the next process. They will always be one step ahead. This is a problem that will never go away and will, in fact, get much worse. Technology keeps moving and accelerating. New treatments will come more often and be harder to detect.
 

There is nothing wrong with embracing and using treatments as long as they are properly disclosed. But there is a disturbing trend of dealers attempting to pass off treated stones as natural or mixing lab-grown stones in parcels of mined diamonds. This lack of ethics only seems to occur within in the natural diamond supply stream while the producers of lab-grown stones disclose their goods with pride. This lack of ethics will only serve to further erode the already dwindling trust consumers have for the mined diamond industry.
 

I’ve said for several years there will be a time where treatments and lab grown diamonds will be undetectable from natural, untreated stones. It appears we are approaching that point sooner rather than later. The future has arrived and we will need to learn how to deal with it.

 


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2015/05/20

Chains are one of the oldest and most loved pieces of jewellery, and have been worn in many guises, often as support to another jewel such as a charm or pendant. Right now the humble chain is very much in vogue, and is playing a starring role in new designs.
 

While there are many different variations of chain in jewellery design, the one of most of interest to us for this trend is curb-link chain, created when the links are twisted together and then beaten flat on top. It is a classic look that has in recent times been associated with the heavy gold chains favoured by rappers.
 

For some this association with hip hop and big bling may be off putting when considering a fine jewellery purchase, but for those with a sense of humour and a keen eye for style it is this very ironic charm that is leading us back to the curb link. And there are many new ways to wear it.

 

Chunky chains

Amethyst is beautifully complemented by 18ct rose gold in this ring from the Gocce collection by deGrisogono. ID BRACELETS by Binder, Friedrich GmbH & Co. KG (FBM)
Givenchy has added a beachy twist to
its bracelet with a shark’s tooth charm.
ID bracelet by
Binder, Freidrich GmbH & Co. KG (FBM)


The easiest way to get involved with this trend is to stick true to its original format – a simple, chunky chain. Many jewellery houses are including heavy link chains in collections, most notably with bracelets. Givenchy has tried to lighten the mood with a shark’s tooth charm on its bracelet, while Chloe has added something akin to a branded, oversized bar, and Ann Dexter-Jones has fallen back on that oh-so-classic combination of ID bracelet and heavy curb-link chain, allowing for customisation through engraving.

 

Mixed material

The Black Butterfly necklace by Matthew Williamson weaves a black textile through the links. Stainless Steel Chain Leather Bracelet by Aplus Gem Co
The Black Butterfly necklace
by Matthew Williamson weaves
a black textile through the links
Stainless Steel Chain Leather Bracelet
by Aplus Gem Co


Heavy curb-link chains are very masculine and as this trend is mostly directed at ladies, an easy way to add femininity and colour is to weave in some bright material. Matthew Williamson has kept his Black Butterfly necklace muted with black fabric interwoven with the links, while Ben-Amun has created a vibrant bib necklace decorated with red thread, faux pearls and other trinkets that has a curb-link chain running through its centre. And in a new twist on the friendship bracelet, Marc by Marc Jacobs has tied a short length of curbed links to a colourful string fastening that truly lifts the chain into summer wear.  

 

Fine jewellery

Le Vian incorporates chain into this rose gold ring set with brown and white diamonds Beautiful Day Bracelet by Regal Jewelry Manufacture Co Ltd
Le Vian incorporates chain into this rose
gold ring set with brown and white diamonds
Beautiful Day Bracelet
by Regal Jewelry Manufacture Co Ltd


This is not just a trend occupying the attentions of the fashion houses; fine jewellery has been taking note too. Roberto Coin has created some spectacularly heavy curb-link chain-style gold rings studded with diamonds in its main collection, while Le Vian runs a diamond and rose gold curb-link chain-inspired design diagonally over a rose gold and brown diamond ring. Mattia Ciello has also created some heavy link chains in rose gold and diamonds, and more interestingly carbon and diamonds.

 

Abstract

These rings from Fifth Season by Roberto Coin have taken curb links as inspiration for a far more angular design Basic bracelet by VOGUE FASHION ACCESSORIES, LTD
These rings from Fifth Season
by Roberto Coin have taken curb links
as inspiration for a far more angular design.
Basic bracelet
by VOGUE FASHION ACCESSORIES, LTD


As well as the faithful reproductions of this jewellery-box staple, some designers have taken a more abstract approach. David Webb has used hammered gold nails in place or traditional links in his bracelet design, while Roberto Coin’s fashion-forward diffusion line Fifth Season has created a range that features what appears to be curb links but stretched and pointed beyond their normal proportions.

 


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