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.
During a recent talk at a Goldsmiths Craft & Design event at the Goldsmiths’ Centre in London, British jewellery designer Stephen Webster made a salient point. “Bespoke is the new branding,” he told the audience.
My interpretation of this quote is that the craft of making jewellery is no longer something to be hidden, to be performed in back rooms and unseen workshops. Yes, it’s dirty work but the skill that goes into making a piece of jewellery is just as attractive to consumers as the piece itself.
Bringing the bench out front is a trend we have seen time and again. Looking around the Jewellery & Watch Birmingham trade show in February, there were more jewellery benches displayed on stands – sometimes with live making demos – than I’ve ever seen before (the BAJ was one such exhibitor with a beautifully set up bench on its stand).
In stores, it is becoming popular to knock down walls hiding workshops and make them part of the customer experience, much like open kitchens in restaurants. Students in London looking for a great example of this should head to EC One’s store in Exmouth Market, where you will see its jewellers at work in the back of the store, just beyond a seating area.
“Bespoke jewellery is in demand, so don’t hide your blackened fingers and blunted buffing papers – celebrate them.”
And of course, jump on to Instagram and you’ll find no end of artfully taken shots of jewellers at work and jewels in various stages of completion.
There is a shift in the consumer mindset that is driving this trend. We want to know where the products we buy are made and how. We want to share stories about their creation. We want to feel like we own something real and unique to us. For all these reasons, bespoke jewellery is in demand, so don’t hide your blackened fingers and blunted buffing papers – celebrate them.