Paul Schneider of Twist accepts the Gem Award for retail innovation.

Last week, the Jewelers of America marked its annual Gem Awards event.

The evening honored designers, retailers, editors and executives for their contributions to the jewelry industry over the last year. Winners included Nikos Koulis for Jewelry design; Vogue UK’s Rachel Garrahan for Media Excellence; Twist for Retail Innovation; and Ed Bridge for Lifetime Achievement.

In the last few years, consumers have begun warming to the idea of purchasing fine jewelry online — a shift evident in how DTC labels like Mejuri, AUrate, Catbird and Studs have been shipping product directly to thousands of savvy shoppers. Some DTC jewelers have even begun raking in millions of dollars in investments.

At the Gem Awards, designers and retailers attested that the online marketplace is indeed growing. Beth Bugdaycay of Foundrae said that 23 percent of her brand’s 2019 sales came through her company’s own web site. She estimated that nearly all of those purchases were made by women buying jewelry for themselves.

“I think women are looking at a longer view and seeing jewelry as a reflection of themselves rather than a seasonal thing. When people talk about trying to be more cognizant of spending money in a way that’s socially conscious, I think jewelry falls within that simply because it’s something that lasts, it’s durable,” said the designer.

Ana Khouri, a nominee in the jewelry design category, sells her ready-to-wear fine jewelry pieces on her own web site. She has noticed a change in how women consume jewelry, and said, “I think people are more trustworthy of how it’s happening. You see Moda Operandi, Net-a-porter and Matches, these big retailers doing it, and it arrives safely and super well done so I think that makes it easier. They’ve opened the door and now it’s easier to follow.”

Paul Schneider of Twist has even seen it in his own multibrand stores. “What I see more and more is people using online as a way to educate themselves, they are coming into our store knowing more than before. That is refreshing because there might be something perfect that would take a salesperson a lot of time to figure out — with this, we are halfway there.”

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