Apart from the fact that jewellery throughout history was adorned so as to add to the beauty of wearer, it has repeatedly taken on expressions of status, confidence, individuality, conformity, romance and femininity. These have remained constant over time and only the form or type of jewellery has changed with evolution of consumers and societies.
Traditionally, consumers depended on their family jeweller for all their needs, for want of assurance of quality and authenticity along with a personalised service. This allowed jewellers to dictate the designs and trends being offered to consumers.
In other words, the fear of deceit and strong belief in only relationship-based buying limited consumers to choices other than those offered by their traditional jeweller. All that has changed.
Just like in any other category, the world is now a marketplace for jewellery consumers. Her choices are much more and reflect her individuality rather than the capability of her family jeweller.
Designs and choices offered by jewellers today have to mirror these consumer preferences and societal evolution, or else they will face the challenge of purposeful existence.
Another factor impacting jewellery trends is consumer well-being. Experts agree that the global recession has changed consumer outlook towards spending and making them more value conscious across all categories.
This in turn has led to several new trends in the jewellery industry across the Arab world.
The amazing reality about trends is that they are ever-changing, and it is desirable and advantageous for large-scale retailers to be able to predict these and mirror new products accordingly. At the moment, we see trends which broadly fall into five major groups.
Innovations in design to balance rising material and labour costs
The first is price related and is a basic need of the hour to continue offering affordable jewellery pieces. A hard reality consumers face from a growing inflation and limited wallet sizes is reduction in their purchase power.
For jewellery, it means consumers compromise on their first preference in lieu of budget limitations. Specifically, as the price of precious metals and stones has increased, we have used innovation in our designs such as hollow fabrication in some instances to keep the same look and feel of the jewellery, without pushing up the price of the end product significantly.
Increasing demand for feminine symbols of articulation. A very interesting trend I can predict is the increasing preference towards circles and geometric designs. These are symbols of hope, optimism, conformity and collectiveness.
Women in more developed economies prefer linear designs in jewellery (such as chokers, and pendants that hang straight down the neck) which gravitate more towards masculine symbols of strength and power. Comparatively, in the developing economies, women tend to prefer more ‘feminine' symbols in jewellery designs such as soft, curvy pieces that include circles and geometric designs, which are expressions of collectivism, femininity, beauty and pride.
Delicate, subtle and discreet jewellery is the new choice of the youth and working women. Another trend is the preference as an accessory. The "big is beautiful" notion is passé for these consumers and is limited to only special and religious occasions.
These new generation women prefer to invest in a repertoire of such delicate and trendy pieces which allows them newness and creativity rather than a heavy piece that limits their entire jewellery budget. The choice is clear — "accessorise me with jewellery".
Pearls are more widely accepted by Gulf consumers. Whereas previously pearls were used for special occasions, they are now used routinely, and often mixed with other stones or lighter diamonds.
A significant trend is the preference for colours in jewellery, and I believe that this is more popular in the Middle East. Women here like coloured stones to match their fashion accessories, especially during summer and spring. This also applies to the different gold colours with many consumers now buying products that are a mix of white, yellow and rose gold. Colours give vibrancy to the jewellery and allow more mix-n-match options.
These trends appeal to all three different generations of buyers, which was not necessarily the case before. It also allows jewellers to create new markets and find something new for our customers.