Adornments of gold and gemstones have a special place in the hearts of consumers, giving the fine jewelry community some solace that it will hold its own through the recession.
Nevertheless, brands are optimizing their assortments to gain consumer awareness and buoy sales. Firms are focused on diversification, offering new and noteworthy collections to lure shoppers, while also building upon existing best-selling collections.
“It’s very important in challenging times to keep your product assortment consistent and not to distort it,” said David Yurman chief executive officer Paul Blum. “We stayed on course with our merchandise mix.”
Yurman is offering large-scale gold pieces, gemstone jewelry in juicy colors and the New Metro Collection, a line that features ceramic fobs cut to look like gems. Ceramic has been a trend in the watch industry for several years, most notably with Chanel’s J12, but Yurman is the first major brand to feature the material in jewelry. The company is also furthering its foray into the men’s jewelry category with engraveable dog tags, ID bracelets and other trinkets.
Marco Bicego, the Italian jeweler headquartered in San Francisco and known for its day jewelry, is extending the Jaipur line, which launched in 2008. Last year, the brand experimented with a few high-jewelry-oriented pieces with price tags upward of $20,000, but this year Bicego is concentrating on its core business, in which pieces range in retail price from $300 to $3,000.
Chopard is going forward with a similar strategy. The firm is offering several additional collections with its signature floating diamond element. However, the brand will continue to show high jewelry on par with its megawatt diamond pieces worn by Kate Winslet and Penélope Cruz to this year’s Academy Awards.
“We have to respect what’s going on in the marketplace,” said Marc Hruschka, Chopard’s U.S. president and ceo. “I anticipate that there won’t be as much high jewelry as in the past. We respond to the wishes and demands of our clients.”
Other brands taking the dual approach of offering high jewelry and more accessible pieces are de Grisogono and Mikimoto, the pearl jewelry firm. Mikimoto will launch a collection of rare conch pearl and diamond jewelry, as well as a line of one-of-a-kind baroque pearl pieces with pavé diamond treatment that goes into the five- and six-digit price marks. Meyer Hoffman, chief operating officer of Mikimoto (America) Co., said the company is also offering classic jewelry with Akoya pearls selling for $1,000 to $3,000.
De Grisogono will extend its popular Allegra collection with strips of gold and stones over rings and earrings, but company president Giovanni Mattera said the highend pieces are outperforming day jewelry like the Allegra collection in sales.
“[People] are not spending as much as they used to. Instead of buying everyday pieces, they are buying couture,” said Mattera. “People feel like making an investment. It’s like a piece of art. Each of these pieces is numbered.”
Last year, in order to cut prices, many jewelers that only used gold launched silver collections.
Stephen Webster is continuing with its silver collection, which has an average retail price of $600, in addition to the gold and gemstone collection that averages from $6,000 to $8,000. This year, Webster is launching several lines of fine gold jewelry and silver. One, called Jules Verne, is inspired by the French author’s tome “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.” The other is called the Boyfriend collection featuring masculine jewelry geared toward women.
Stephen Webster is still looking at opening stores in Beverly Hills in the fall and Manhattan once a location is pinned down.
“We’re supporting the brand, continuing to invest with a wide range of product,” said Webster president and ceo Terri Eagle. “We want to show that we’re here in the long term.”
This year, brands like Roberto Coin are launching more accessibly priced collections.
Coin is launching a line called Capri Plus. The line is priced 50 percent lower than Coin’s typical product, at $5,000 to $50,000 at retail. Though Coin won’t say what material other than metal he is working with, the collection includes precious and semiprecious gemstones.
“We’re creating jewelry at the highest level to obtain price points that are more reachable,” said Coin. “No one knows where the market will land, whether it be high, middle or low. We’re giving the opportunity to buy a high-end piece of jewelry that’s more affordable. People are buying more intelligently and less ostentatiously than before.”
Price restrictions aside, retailers want to see fresh and intriguing designs to spark consumer interest.
“We are looking for the best of the best, seeking out jewelry that evokes an emotional impact,” said Cody Kondo, group senior vice president and general merchandise manager for jewelry, accessories and shoes at Saks Fifth Avenue. “These pieces must be bold but timeless.”
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast