The debate continues. Is the recession over? Is the “double dip” coming next? Are we in recovery, and if so, will we ever return to the market climate of 2007? Many questions still loom; however, one thing is certain: the jewelry market may never be the same again.
The fierce struggle for survival and dominance during this extended economic decline has permanently altered the jewelry scene. Fine jewelry retailers who once scoffed at selling silver or price points below $250 in their shops are now moving into entirely different market segments. This shift is unlikely to reverse when the economy is fully healed.
Due to high metals markets and the recession, fine jewelers followed the money last Christmas and heavily stocked sterling lines like Pandora beads. This dramatic move has opened a window of opportunity for many bridge jewelry designers. Retailers who started with mass-produced lines are finding that they can indeed sell lower price point jewelry to their market of “fine jewelry” consumers. Art jewelry in a wider range of metals is popping up in display cases that once only held platinum and solid gold. Buyers are seeing the value in fine design instead of just traditional materials.
Over time this change should greatly benefit jewelry artisans. The handmade movement was picking up considerable momentum prior to the recession and it stands a good chance of thriving in the post-recovery era. Craft jewelers who aggressively pursue new sales venues may find a more receptive audience than in the past.
This also presents an interesting challenge to boutique jewelers and American craft galleries that have carved out a niche in bridge jewelry over the last decade. Fine jewelers are now moving in on the turf they have spent years cultivating. Both groups will need to examine their respective strategies and brand identities in order to excel in the new business climate.
This environment may very well create a renaissance period in jewelry. The broader range of metals and design styles in the market give jewelers a new level of creative freedom. The increase in sales venues should also increase resale opportunities. I am excited to see how that will impact the industry and break down the segment barriers we have always known.
Copyright 2010. Halstead Bead, Inc., wholesale jewelry supplies since 1973. Please feel free to share or re-post this blog with proper credit. We also welcome your comments.