New York, NY—One of the biggest consumer trends right now is a shift toward buying fewer but better goods with lasting quality and relevance. Consumer surveys from both jewelry-industry and other market research organizations confirm it again and again. Image: Sara Weinstock earrings, courtesy Natural Diamond Council.
That’s great news for fine jewelers, who are enjoying an opportunity to pick up dollars that might otherwise have been spent on travel and other experiential luxury that was put on hold this year.
But it doesn’t mean that consumers don’t want something new. In fact, when people get more selective in their purchases, new is exactly what they do want.
As mentioned in this article, the four key new diamond jewelry trends are: high-octane color, precious and personal, statement earrings, and organic and earthy engagement and commitment rings.
Here’s how to decode the trends when making buying decisions and at the counter to sell them.
First, know that any consumers who are searching online for diamond jewelry are increasingly likely to come across the NDC’s website and trend look book, which are going to inspire them to jewelry beyond the usual fare.
The Natural Diamond Council, as you recall, is the rebranded Diamond Producers Association. Under new CEO David Kellie, who has a luxury fashion background, the organization has pivoted sharply toward a more consumer-facing and fashion-centric message. NDC still is there to support the trade, emphasizes North American managing director Kristina Buckley Kayel. But trade support is the backbone, not the face, of its efforts.
“We’re the only consumer-facing industry body speaking directly to consumer, focusing predominantly on [women], age range 21-45, in way she hasn’t been spoken to before by the industry. We are turning out content every day and she’s engaging with it,” says Kayel. Since the new site launched in June, it has been receiving tens of thousands of visitors daily, and Kayel is confident it will reach hundreds of thousands per day based on current growth tracks.
Part of the new strategy is producing semiannual trend reports.
“Trends create demand. They also give [women] reason to update their jewelry collection with every season,” says Kayel. “She’s already doing it with fashion and accessories, and diamond jewelry should be more top of mind. When she has $1,000 or $5,000 a season to spend, add something to your wardrobe that transcends a season.” It’s also to consistently emphasize incorporating diamonds into an everyday wardrobe, and buying diamond jewelry beyond the typical occasion-based purchases.
On the trade end, the trend reports’ goal is to rally the industry in a more coordinated way all the way up the pipeline to prepare and amplify those trends consistently. NDC uses the trends to inspire its advertising campaigns as well.
NDC’s Style Collective, a group of a half-dozen fashion, retail, and style influencers led by Town & Country contributor Jill Newman, are responsible for identifying the trends and finding examples of jewelry that fit at all price points. Here’s what Newman and stylist Will Kahn had to say.
“We could all use a little joy, color, and fun, but at the same time the trends have meaning and significance. This is a unique period in time when gifts from this time will be even more meaningful. Jewelry in particular speaks to that,” says Newman. “People want fun things, things they can wear now. They’re not buying to put it in the safe, they’re buying to wear and have fun with and mix up with what you have.”
Two trends in one: red enamel and diamond drop hoops from Etho Maria make a statement about color and important earrings.
Even massive, important statement earrings—the epitome of black-tie glamour—are more relevant than ever. Women aren’t going out this season, but they’re pulling out the black-tie jewelry and working it into staying in.
“We love the statement earring, especially right now, says Kahn, formerly the jewelry director of Moda Operandi. “Traditionally it’s seen in black tie or occasion dressing, but our social calendars are lighter these days and our wardrobes are reflecting that. We feel that come this holiday season, women are going to be pairing more casual knits or even T-shirts with their more glamorous jewelry. This is going to be the pop of glamour in people’s Zoom meetings of the future.”
“Nothing lights up a woman’s face like a little sparkle,” says Newman. Image at top of page: Sara Weinstock earring.
“To invest in a statement earring, you’re going to have a lot more use out of it than one evening gown,” adds Kahn.
Newman especially likes the “high-octane color” trend—something that also was highlighted in De Beers’ latest trend report. What’s especially notable is that the color comes from enamel or ceramic, not gemstones.
“We typically think of pairing diamonds with other stones for color, but now we’re seeing diamonds with neon, pastels, and range of colors you can’t get with other stones,” says Newman. “This makes [jewelry] playful, dynamic, vibrant and puts diamonds in a playful mode.
Enamel also mixes well with other pieces women have in their wardrobe,” she said.
“This is new, fresh, fun,” says Kahn. When it comes to more conservative pieces, women probably have something like it already, he says, emphasizing why shoppers are looking for newness. But it doesn’t have to be scary—neon colors can be a little too vibrant for a more conservative dresser, but a red hoop earring (such as one by Etho Maria) or a white heart locked (such as a ceramic one by Monica Rich Kosann) isn’t scary. “They work for any woman, any age,” he said.
The "high-octane color" trend doesn't have to be scary, says stylist Will Kahn. A younger woman might opt for a neon green piece but an older or more conservative dresser won't be scared off by a white enamel locket like this one from Monica Rich Kosann.
The “Precious & Personal” trend isn’t new, explained Newman. Diamond initials and words have been around for decades; they just have a fresher and more innovative style this season, and they work with jewelry that women already own. It’s also available at any price point and for any age: jewelers typically think of the ID trend as skewing younger, but when you see it from Verdura, it’s a whole different level, says Newman.
Verdura elevantes the ID initial necklace to a new level.
“Those words mean something—whether it’s a special personal gift or an empowering word you choose.”
Finally, organic and earthy jewelry is in tune a desire for more casual and understated ways to wear a diamond. Rough diamonds, and also dark, heavily included diamond slices, are the central focus of this trend. It also works for consumers that would love a natural color diamond but can't afford a traditinoal one.
“The alternative engagement ring is more popular than ever,” says Kahn. “People are trying to make individual decisions; that Millennial feeling of finding your own path.” He pointed to the recently-engaged Lily Collins as an example, with her pink-hued Irene Neuwirth rose-cut ring. Other designers working in the trend include Sethi Couture, Todd Reed, and more.
Lily Collins's rose-cut engagement ring, top, and rough colored diamond rings from Sethi Couture and Todd Reed, bottom.
NDC will begin pushing the trends out to consumers at the end of October. Trade assets are available around each trend for jewelers to download and share on social media. Diamond dealers and manufacturers that supply unusual cuts or rough diamonds can contact NDC for partnerships, as can retailers who want to buy them for custom jewelry but don’t have a usual source.
“We’re here to do what we can to help the industry,” reiterated Kayel.