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.
Zara Simon has been lounging on Ibizan beaches looking stylish since she was in her teens, and her jewellery collection, Z for Accessorize (her father is Monsoon founder Peter Simon), is a perfect reflection of that, with perfectly boho-esque included gemstones, beachy lariats and warm yellow gold plating. Its prices are also just right for holiday jewels: a little more expensive that the store’s regular costume jewellery, but still affordable enough for you not to care too much if splashing in the waves leaves you one ring down.
And why should you be taking note of this? Because her sun-soaked “demi-fine” jewels, as Accessorize likes to refer to them, are changing the way high street shoppers think about jewellery. The jewels are made of brass, but are plated with gold or platinum and set with genuine gemstones like labradorite, rose quartz and moonstone (except anything that looks like a diamond, which will be cubic zirconia). For women who have built jewellery collections at fashion stores, this is the gateway to fine jewellery.
Once shoppers get used to paying a little extra for precious touches, like plating and gems, surely the next logical step will be to take a sharp intake of breath and hand over a card in exchange for silver plated with gold, and perhaps even a few genuine diamonds. Then comes a solid gold purchase, or perhaps a bespoke commission.
The current front cover of industry magazine Retail Jeweller is emblazoned with the following statement: “97% of consumers will spend on other discretionary items before they consider buying jewellery”. And it’s true. People don’t blink at dropping hundreds of pounds on a new iPhone, but ask them to consider spending £120 on a pair of silver earrings and they start to sweat.
While demi-fine jewellery might be considered by connoisseurs as mass market, high street fodder, it has a place in the industry. Shoppers are engaging with it and are willing to up their budgets to get it; so much so that Z for Accessorize has just released a limited-edition of larger, pricier pieces with heavier stone content. And this can only be good news for jewellers, so swing the gate wide open, I say.