Join us for our weekly BAJ:Insight on the latest industry trends by Rachael Taylor, a freelance journalist who writes about jewellery for a number of titles, including The Financial Times, The Jewellery Editor and Retail Jeweller. In her 10 years reporting on the industry, she has travelled the globe to visit key industry fairs, descended a Fairtrade gold mine on top of a Peruvian mountain, toured silver jewellery factories in Thailand, and regularly has access to the most sparkling jewels and people in the business.
The jewellery industry is built around women. The majority of designs are made for them, and with the rise of self-purchasing, most marketing campaigns are now targeted directly at them. Yet, it is still an industry dominated at the top by men. This is just one of the reasons that I’ve become involved with the newly minted Women’s Jewellery Network as a regional ambassador for my hometown of Brighton.
Women’s Jewellery Network’s Ambassadors
This is not to say that there are no women working in jewellery; a quick glance around your classroom will dispel this myth, and indeed the British Academy of Jewellery is led by the inspiring Sofie Boons. Some of the most exciting job titles in the business are commanded by women – the recent appointment of Laurence Nicolas, the woman responsible for creating Dior’s fine jewellery department, to head up Sotheby’s global watch and jewellery sales being a great recent example.
British Academy of Jewellery
Head of Academy – Sofie Boons
Yet, despite the sector being one of the most bias of the luxury and fashion sectors towards a female shopping demographic (research by Barclays suggests that men are now spending more on clothes, grooming and shoes than women), many of the top designers are male. Top-level executive jobs also often go to men over women. Each of these men is charged with the difficult task trying to understand the needs and desires of the opposite sex. This can feel a little odd. As Australian jewellery designer Margot McKinney told me for a story I wrote for The Jewellery Editor: “I believe there is a distinct advantage being a woman designing for women. Beyond just the practical wearing of jewellery, I understand how a fabulous piece of jewellery can make a woman feel. This can be a very powerful emotion.”
Long Keshi and South Sea baroque pearl necklace by Margot McKinney
Independent Australian jeweller – Margot McKinney
To support a story in The Financial Times about Chabi Nouri, one of the very few female execs at luxury group Richemont, taking over from male predecessor Philippe Léopold-Metzger as chief executive of its jewellery and watch brand Piaget, the team collated some figures. The resulting graphs – which you can see in this Financial Times Facebook Live discussion I participated in (it appears about 18 minutes in) – show an overwhelming dominance of men holding chief executive roles in the watch and jewellery industry.
Chabi Nouri – Chief executive in Richemont’s stable of watch and jewellery brands
Another interesting element of the graph was the ages of these male execs, with a high percentage of them being older and the women on the graph being younger. This suggests a generational change towards more women being accepted at the top; a universal issue across all sectors as the world realises that women can do more than raise children and tend to husbands.
The emergence of the Women’s Jewellery Network, founded by the London Diamond Bourse’s Victoria McKay, writer and trend forecaster Kathryn Bishop and Facets PR exec Anna Chapman, is not about crying: ‘Down with men!’. Instead, it is about creating a supportive community for women. Like it or not – deserved or not – women remain at a disadvantage in the professional world. While the glass ceiling might no longer be trapping us all, the glass elevator still helps men to rise faster. So to make sure you have all the possible competitive advantages, future women of the jewellery industry, sign up now.
Women’s Jewellery Network