For a long time, “fashion” has been a dirty word in luxury jewelry. Fashion jewelry was considered cheap, made of non-precious materials, worn for one season and discarded.
The old guard of high jewelry would avoid anything that might be deemed too fashionable. It was feared that gold and diamonds would lose the enduring qualities that marketing strategies, such as that of De Beers “A diamond is forever”, were constructed. Not anymore.
“The narrative has shifted from ‘Buy this now and wear it every day for the rest of your life’ to ‘Buy this now and it will outlast the trend cycle’,” says Jodie Marie Smith, jewelry brand advisor . Jewellers, she says, now see the benefit of engaging with young consumers with different values.
The brands, she says, are moving from “pictures that are styled sky high and shot in Monaco, and have nothing to do with the life you even want to lead” to relatable pictures – showing luxury jewelry photographed with casual outfits on models posing outdoors in supermarket or at a party.
British jeweler Shaun Leane dipped into 1990s nostalgia to create a black and white campaign for his Rose Thorn collection, using denim designs and monochrome cotton basics. Tiffany & Co attempted a similarly styled campaign with the slogan “Not your mother’s Tiffany”.
Luxury jewelry houses are also experimenting with cross-genre collaborations. Parisian jeweler Messika has co-designed a collection with model Kate Moss, with a catwalk-style launch in Paris, with a front row populated by models and influencers. The collection also launches into the metaverse via the Drest fashion game app.
At Dior, artistic director of jewelry Victoire de Castellane worked with artistic director of menswear Kim Jones on high jewelry pieces for her 2022 lines, including a pearl necklace for men with a cactus set in diamonds bursting with diamonds. enamel flowers. In 2020, she invited fashion videographer and YouTuber Loïc Prigent, known for his irreverent and hard-hitting content, to film with de Castellane to mark 20 years of his high jewelry division.
Louis Vuitton also invited Prigent to the launch of its high jewelry collection, Stellar Times, later that year, and the resulting video looked a lot like the energetic behind-the-scenes reportage popular at fashion weeks.
For NYC Jewelry Week co-founder JB Jones, it was a moment from the Kenzo AW22 show in Paris in January that captured this new vibe, when musician Pharrell arrived wearing sunglasses set with 25 carats of diamonds that were the result of a collaboration with Tiffany. “It is no longer a question of acquiring a luxury item; it’s about how people want to express themselves through jewelry,” says Jones.
This desire to experience fine jewelry outside of the carefully crafted narratives of luxury houses is part of what led Jones and her business partner, Bella Neyman, to create NYC Jewelry Week, in 2018. Unlike Fashion Week of New York, it is a consumer event.
“We wanted to say it’s OK to wear it how you want to wear it, and we haven’t seen that happen with a lot of big brands,” says Jones – pointing out that most consumers will mix luxury jewelry with more accessible or vintage jewelry. pieces, just as fashionistas might pair a Zara dress with a Chanel handbag.
Jewelry photography is also becoming more experimental. Smith points to an increase in flash photography and images taken on the kind of lo-fi cameras the Gen-Z crowd favors, as well as a decreasing reliance on perfect shots.
New York-based Ondyn, which produces high-end diamond jewelry, used long exposures in its latest campaign, making the jewelry appear as enticing blurs. “We wanted the imagery and aesthetics to evoke more of the dream and magic of wearing our jewelry,” says founder Tara Maria Famiglietti.
According to David Kellie, chief executive of the Natural Diamond Council, changing style to maintain aspirational relevance with younger consumers could open up jewelers to a new clientele. “What Virgil Abloh was doing with jewelry was really exciting,” he says, referring to the late menswear designer, whose Office Supplies collaboration with jeweler Jacob & Co produced gem-encrusted paperclips designed to be worn with trainers, denim and T-shirts. “We see streetwear as the next big opportunity for diamonds,” he explains.
Editor Ian Thorley sees potential in luxury jewelry joining mainstream fashion. Last year he launched Something About Rocks, a magazine dedicated to jewelry but presenting it from a fashion angle, with celebrity interviews, fashion photos and a tone of voice that speaks to consumers of the generation Z and Generation Y.
Competing fashion houses in the high-end jewelry market include Hermès, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Dior. McKinsey’s State of Fashion 2022 report indicates that the branded fine jewelry segment is expected to grow 8-12% between 2019 and 2025.
“This is the last area of luxury where there is real growth for brands,” says Thorley. “Every brand wants to be involved.”