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.
Each year a very special book comes out. A book that opens up a window into the future of jewellery trends – Swarovski Gemvisions.
This annual report on the future trends set to shape the jewellery industry is extremely well thought of in the business (jewellery designers fall over themselves to be included on its pages). It is published by the famous crystal producer Swarovski and is created by a team of “in-house creatives, gem hunters, technicians, consultant fashion forecasters, jewellery historians and experts”. I’ve been reading it for years, and I have to say that it’s usually pretty spot on.
The latest edition, Gemvisions Trend Directions 2017, is out now and is but a click away (read it in full online for free here). So what are the top macro trends it has presented this year?
Swarovski describes this overarching trend as “pre-historic meets quantum physics”. The opening gambit in the book references extreme landscapes, DNA experiments, extinct creatures, man-made islands. What this translates as is jewels that are ethical, organic, eco-friendly, or reference pre-historic times through animal bones, insects, talismans or rough gemstones that make you consider their geology. 3D printing, cellular structures and crystalline formations tie into the scientific edge to this trend.
- HAUTE GEMS
It’s a simple title but it captures the mood of this trend perfectly. As Swarovski describes it: “The resurgence of monumental, spectacular, theatrical jewels with a contemporary look and feel, underpinned by a strong spirit of cultivated connoisseurship and couture.” This is about attention to detail, craftsmanship, glamour, and is driven by knowledgeable consumers looking for excitement. Lace-like filigree, skilled enamel work, gemstone carving, intricate patterns, top-quality rubies and emeralds, as well as dramatic stones like Paraiba tourmalines, all fit here. And the scale is oversized with chandelier earrings, huge cocktail rings, brooches and precious plumages.
- EASY TRANSFORM
Nobody wants stuffy high jewellery that is only allowed out of its box for the most formal of occasions anymore. We want easy-to-wear, casual opulence. As Swarovski says: “Comfort, body consciousness, the third dimension of how a jewel feels on the skin, how it moves on the body, the personal pleasure it brings to the wearer, have become considerations in design and manufacture.” Tactile materials like high-tech ceramic play into this trend, as do bright mood-enhancing colours and emojis, and classics with a modern twist like deconstructed heirlooms or modernised tennis bracelets.
- SELF ART
Younger generations (X, Y, Millennials) do not wish to be told how to wear jewellery, or what to wear. A lot of this feeling is driven by online – we constantly have opportunities to reinvent ourselves, present an edited view of our own lives, and to learn about brands and trends outside the mainstream. Swarovski describes these jewellery buyers of today and tomorrow as “avant-garde individualist curators of their own self art”. For this trend, think about jewels that offer personalisation options or a chance to express personality. Jewels that spell out words, have hidden messages, bold colour choices, asymmetric designs, punk influences, fine jewels for men, wearable tech, quirky motifs like lips and pixels. There is also an openness to man-made or unusual materials like lab-grown diamonds or titanium.