Jewelry continues to be a bright spark amidst the Covid 19 gloom that’s pervaded our lives these last three years. While the industry has faced its fair share of woes thanks to lockdowns and travel restrictions, it seems that many of us are turning to jewelry – a satisfyingly forever purchase if ever there was one – while holidays and restaurants have remained frustratingly off-limits.

The need for our jewelry to spark joy is stronger than ever. While the trends cycle turns more slowly in jewelry than in fashion, there is no denying the shift towards our desire for electric color and playfulness. Sophie Quy, executive vice president at Threads Styling, says “dopamine dressing” extends as much to fine jewelry as it does to our clothes, with customers falling for bold color combinations from the likes of Anabela Chan, Marie Lichtenberg and Savolinna.

Thanks to the Y2K trend adopted by the likes of Bella Hadid and Dua Lipa, playfulness is at the heart of many of our purchasing decisions, too, with everything from hearts to smiley faces to Brent Neale’s jeweled mushrooms catching our eye. For Mie Ejdrup, cofounder of Finematter, 2022 will be a year that reinforces the desire above all to please one’s self in your jewelry. “It’s as if we’re shelving all the old styling rules and traditions, and moving forward with one core idea: jewelry should be personal and playful,” she says.

Jewelry has always been an emotional purchase, but it seems we are more inclined than ever on saying who we are, with combinations of zodiac signs, birthstones and initials sprinkled liberally across our necks, ears and fingers. People want a talisman, something to hold onto that makes them feel safe in these uncertain times. Another aspect to that is positive messaging, and Tanika Wisdom, buyer at MatchesFashion, believes “feel-good mantras from the likes of Lauren Rubinski and Rosa de la Cruz” will continue to resonate with customers this year.

For Ana Khouri, it’s less about style trends and more of an overarching shift – by jewelers and jewelry lovers – towards a more sustainable approach to making and buying jewelry, whether that be finding ways to be kinder to the environment, or to the communities that mine precious materials. “Everyone is getting more conscious of the environment and overall the way we live, produce and consume,” she says. “At Ana Khouri, we only work with fair-mined gold and responsibly and ethically sourced gemstones.” Her new collection for The Row even features vintage rosewood recycled from an antique chest at her family home in São Paulo.

Businesses that sell jewelry are finding that clients are increasingly responsive to efforts to recycle their unworn pieces and choose vintage and antique jewelry over new. Josephine Odet, head of buying and VIP sales at Omneque, says movies and shows like House of Gucci and And Just Like That have led to an uptick in interest in vintage fashion jewelry. In fact, she says, buyers are investing in “affordable rarities”, pieces of design history like Victorian skull rings that are unique but which don’t break the bank.

Kimai, the lab diamond jeweler, has just launched Second Life, a service in which clients can restore an old piece in their jewelry box or have it redesigned to create something new. “After speaking with our customers and community, we realized so many of us have pieces gathering dust in our jewelry boxes, and we wanted to provide a sustainable solution to this. This is how the second life service was born,” says co-founder Jessica Warch.

“I think people are looking to buy better. To make conscious decisions and invest in lasting ‘life-proof’ designs made from high-quality materials,” says Finematter’s Ejdrup. The e-tailer had an instantly positive response to its Renew and Recycle services, which launched last September and which encourage circular thinking and conscious consumption amongst jewelry owners.

Another thing that’s here to stay for the long-term: buying fine jewelry online, even big-ticket items that formerly customers would want to try on before they handed over their credit card. “Since 2019 we have seen our jewelry category go from strength to strength, with triple-digit growth in fine jewelry and double-digit growth in fashion jewelry,” says Wisdom of Matches Fashion. At Threads Styling, it continues to be one of its fastest-growing categories, 40 per cent up on 2020. Quy says that followers of the social media fashion hub lap up their content from jewelers like Ananya, who share their creative influences and a glimpse behind the bejeweled scenes. In the longer term, a recent State of Fashion report by Business of Fashion and McKinsey & Company ​​estimates that global online jewelry sales are expected to grow from 13 per cent to 18 to 21 per cent of total jewelry sales between 2019 and 2025, amounting to a not-to-be-sniffed-at $60 to $80 billion.

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