Candy jewellery

© Written by Rachael Taylor for Tidlrs

In the month of the year that is always a record breaker for new gym memberships, it is perhaps not the moment to celebrate the glory of calorific treats, but these sweet jewels are completely guilt free.

Candy has been a tempting source of inspiration for jewellery designers of late, with smooth and juicy cabochons and saccharine shades of enamel proving too much to resist. And as well as delivering a hit of sweetness, this new trend also embraces the lighter side of life, encouraging us to live a little and be playful.

Bright, bold colours, like those of the gemstones selected for Harry Winston’s first ever collection dedicated solely to cocktail rings, are key. Winston Candy, a collection of one-off rings, launched in November at a customer event in London, which was decorated with enormous sweet jars filled with childhood sweet-shop favourites like rhubarb ‘n’ custards and kola cubes. In some slightly more secure glass cases across the room were the rings, set with huge hunks of aquamarine, spessarite garnet, red spinel, Paraiba tourmaline and pink sapphire…

This story was published on Tidlrs in January 2019. Click here to read the story in full. (Main image: Origin 31)

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The state of luxury: USA

© Written by Rachael Taylor for The Future Laboratory

The US maintains its position as the world’s biggest luxury market, but disruption from discounters, failing malls and Made in America have changed the sector.

Sales of luxury goods in the US continue to be robust and American consumers, although left divided and uncertain by political turmoil, are also confident, with more than half (43%) of Americans describing their economic situation in 2017 as ‘healthy’.

  • The luxury market in the Americas posted sales of £75bn ($95bn, €84bn) in 2017, and is expected to achieve between 3% and 5% growth in 2018 (source: Bain & Co)
  • How consumers buy luxury goods is changing, with more than 20% of US malls expected to close by 2020, and an estimated 47% of all online luxury sales made in the Americas in 2017 (sources: McKinsey & Co, Bain & Co)
  • The fervour behind Made in America is encouraging reshoring, with 70% of consumers believing it is important to buy American, but price sensitivity is high with 37% unwilling to pay any extra for American-made goods (source: Reuters/Ipsos)

Once the gateway for major retail in the US, the iconic American shopping mall has suffered in recent years with McKinsey & Co reporting that more than a fifth of all US malls are expected to close by 2020. Department stores have fared little better, and falling sales have pushed them into discounting luxury goods to boost sales, with many launching dedicated discount offshoots – Saks OFF 5TH, Neiman Marcus Last Call and Nordstrom Rack, for example…

This story was originally published on The Future Laboratory on August 17th, 2018. Read the full report here. (main image: From Dust to Gold, Palms Casino, Las Vegas)

Spinning tales: Reena Ahluwalia

© Written by Rachael Taylor for Jewelry Connoisseur

It is 11 a.m. in Toronto, but Reena Ahluwalia has already been at her desk for more than six hours, and her day won’t end until well after midnight. Such is the daily routine of this energetic — and brilliant — artist, lecturer and jeweler.

While Canada has been her home for nearly two decades, Ahluwalia started her life and career in India, where she was soon identified as a star on the rise.

“I went to a really amazing school, The National Institute of Fashion Technology [in New Delhi],” she says. “India has more than one billion people, so for art school, there were 10,000 applicants, seven sets of exams, and only 12 students were selected. I was too young to know this was such a privilege, as I thought I was so good. In hindsight, I look back and think how fortunate I was…

This story was originally published on Jewelry Connoisseur on August 15, 2018. Read the full story here. (main image: Reena Ahluwalia)

Recasting the outcasts

© Written by Rachael Taylor for Rapaport

De Grisogono founder Fawaz Gruosi takes credit for rebranding black diamonds from dank hunks of unsellable carbon into the glamorous gemstones we see on red carpets today. Once he breached that barrier by blessing the overlooked carbonados with his favour and influence, grey and brown diamonds soon followed suit in the luxury market, and demand has surged as consumers continue waking up to their lower prices.

While it was considered disruptive or offbeat to choose these so-called imperfect stones over clear, bright white diamonds, jewellery designer Diane Kordas believes this is softening. “I find that customers with both traditional and non-traditional personal style are now all buying black, brown and grey diamonds,” she says. “Fine jewellery has really evolved in terms of design, and it has become more adventurous, making coloured diamonds popular in the current market.”

These stones are also less expensive. A Diane Kordas Heartbeat ear cuff set with black diamonds is more than 25% cheaper than the same design set with white diamonds. This can be a draw for shoppers on a budget, particularly when it comes to big-ticket items like engagement rings…

This story was originally published in the March 2018 issue of Rapaport magazine. Continue reading to see layouts and download a full-sized PDF of the feature and front cover. (Main image: Diane Kordas)

Believe in unicorns

© Written by Rachael Taylor for VO+

When a privately owned company reaches a valuation of more than $1 billion, it is referred to as a unicorn. With an impending flotation on the stock market that has it pegged at £4 billion, Farfetch has some serious horn; one that it is using to expand its reach into the fine jewellery market with a dedicated watch and jewellery hub that launched in May.

This online aggregate for fashion boutiques across the globe – it now gives shoppers access to designer goods at 900 stores, carrying no stock but taking up to 30% of every sale made through the site – was founded in 2008, and has 2 million customers from 190 countries on its books, whose average age is 36.

With online sales of luxury goods up 24% last year and the majority of growth driven by under 40s, according to consultancy Bain & Company, this makes Farfetch’s mailing list prime hunting ground for jewellers desperate to connect with a younger generation. Not to mention that Farfetch’s own sales have been growing at 50% a year. Therefore it is little wonder that De Beers, Chopard, David Yurman, Pomellato and Tiffany & Co have all signed up. Farfetch chief commercial and sustainability officer Giorgio Belloli tells us more…

This story was published in the September 2018 edition of VO+ magazine. Click here to access a digital version of the issue and read the story in full (starts page 186). Main image: David Yurman jewels, shot by Farfetch. 

Paris Couture report, July 2018

© Written by Rachael Taylor for Adorn Insight

There was more than a hint of whimsy at this July’s Paris Couture Week jewellery shows, with fairytales and lore forming central themes at presentations from Van Cleef & Arpels, Messika and De Beers. Yet there was also a willingness to embrace the future, with Chaumet delivering a strong collection inspired by contemporary African art, Atelier Swarovski promoting lab-grown gemstones, and Boucheron pushing technical boundaries with its new lifelike floral designs that use patent-pending technology to incorporate real blooms.

Demand from customers for this type of one-off high jewellery pieces continues to be strong, despite the price tags, with many pieces selling throughout the week, and some even finding buyers beforehand, straight from the gouache. Transformability of pieces (allowing for more than one look) continued to be a key theme, as did asymmetric and solo earrings. Diamonds were the dominant stone, followed by green gemstones such as emeralds, tsavorites and tourmalines – the latter appearing more frequently in large sizes and a spectrum of rare shades in place of more traditional central stones throughout the Week’s collections…    

 

This story was published on Adorn Insight in July 2018. Click here to read the story in full (subscription required). Main image: Atelier Swarovski. 

The Jewellery Cut Showroom: September 2018

The debut The Jewellery Cut Showroom, organised by Rachael Taylor and Andrew Martyniuk, at London Fashion Week took place in Bond Street to showcase fine and fashion jewellery brands, along with a range of jewellery masterclasses and a VIP launch party. The ticketed event, which drew more than 300 visitors over the two days, was open to press, buyers and the general public, offering jewellery on sale with special showroom prices and offers.

Speaking at the showroom, The Jewellery Cut editorial director Rachael Taylor said:  “Jewellery doesn’t get much love during London Fashion Week, and we’re glad that this is something we’ve managed to change this season with a bustling The Jewellery Cut Showroom that drew in a strong crowd of industry professionals and interested consumers who wanted to learn more about, and buy, jewels. This hybrid approach has helped the designers taking part to tick multiple boxes with one event, which is so important in an age when money and time pressures are so intense. And from the consumers’ perspective, the Showroom was an opportunity to learn about some of the highly creative, diverse jewellers we have here in the UK and to purchase quality jewels that you won’t find on the high street. A new jewellery event that has the energy to inspire and educate consumers has been long overdue, and we feel that The Jewellery Cut Showroom has been the perfect experience for jewellery lovers who are ready to do more than just like a picture of a ring on Instagram. We look forward to running regular Showrooms and events throughout the year to complement our digital presence.”

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Jewellery brands and designers who flew into London from around the world to take part in the event and display their new collections in the showroom, hosted by jewellery specialist agency FACETS, which included Spanish fashion jewellery brand Uno de 50, Sarah Zhuang Jewellery from Hong Kong, C6 by Anne Cohen from Denmark and Icelandic jewellery brand Aurum by Guðbjörg. UK brands taking part included Clogau, GFG Jewellery, ethical jewellers Eden Diodati, Untold and Natalie Perry Jewellery, as well as emerging designer brands Lemuria Jewels, Olivia & Pearl, AS by Akansha, Aureliean and Satta Matturi.

For these times?

© Written by Rachael Taylor for Retail Jeweller 

The numbers attached to Swiss watch and jewellery show Baselworld are usually staggering; be it the expansive square footage, the volume of visitors, or just how many restaurants are secreted within multi-storey exhibition stands. This year, however, the numbers surprise for a different reason. The 2018 edition of the show will be a shadow of its former self, with half the exhibitors it had last year and a six-day show rather than eight, and British retail buyers fear it could be losing its relevance – especially for jewellery.

Baselworld has estimated that there will be between 600 and 700 exhibitors at this year’s edition of the show. Last year, the number of exhibitors was 1,300, which in itself was a 13% drop on 2016. And visitor numbers have been dropping too: 106,000 buyers from more than 100 countries attended Baselworld in 2017, which was down 4% year on year and the fourth consecutive year of decline.

Baselworld acknowledged that the change has been driven by a shift in the watch and jewellery industry. In a statement, it said: “The watch and jewellery market is undergoing a period of profound change – first and foremost, through the increasing consolidation of the market in terms of production and marketing, but also through the challenges and opportunities of digital technology…

This story was originally published in the April 2018 issue of Retail Jeweller magazine. Continue reading to see magazine layouts and download full-size PDFs. (main image: Baselworld)

Who’s driving the UK luxury market?

© Written by Rachael Taylor for The Future Laboratory

Brexit has left the UK luxury sector divided, with a thriving tourist trade driven by the exchange rate and a domestic customer base hindered by uncertainty. Can brand innovation and a Millennial state of mind redress the balance?

Tourists remain the most lucrative consumer base for luxury goods companies in the UK. With visitor numbers at an all-time high in 2017 (source: VisitBritain), this seems unlikely to change. But domestic growth is evident, with 7% of British shoppers claiming to have traded up their buying habits in 2017 (source: McKinsey & Co).

  • 5% of all luxury and 5.6% of all affordable luxury store openings happened in London in 2017, making it one of the most desirable cities for retailers (source: Savills)
  • £1 in every £4 of sales of British luxury goods is attributed to tourists (source: Walpole)
  • Luxury goods in the UK are, on average, 22% cheaper than in China, its main source of tourism (source: Deloitte)

As Britain remains locked in extended negotiations about its exit from the EU, a cloud of uncertainty hangs over its luxury market. Such apprehension comes both from British nationals being unsure of their financial future, and the estimated 2.9 million EU nationals (source: Office for National Statistics) who are uncertain whether they will be allowed to stay in the country…

This story was originally published on The Future Laboratory on July 30, 2018. Read the full report here. (main image: David Morris)

 

Once upon a fashion show

© Written by Rachael Taylor for Jewelry Connoisseur

Fairytales were a popular source of inspiration during Paris Couture Week, with Messika delivering the second wave of its Once Upon a Time collection. Tales such as The Little Mermaid and The Snow Queen were interpreted in swishing tails of baguette-cut diamonds and icy pear and marquise combinations.

Meanwhile, Van Cleef & Arpels unveiled Quatre Contes de Grimm, a dramatic and colorful collection inspired by the dark works of those master storytellers, the Brothers Grimm.

De Beers also chose folklore as the core theme of its new Diamond Legends collection, the design of which embraces myths such as that of the sun god Ra, whose power of eternal life was represented on earth in the form of a diamond…

This story was originally published on Jewelry Connoisseur on July 16, 2018. Read the full story here. (main image: Van Cleef & Arpels)

Dog days

© Written by Rachael Taylor for Rapaport

If the phrase “diamond dogs” means nothing to you other than a classic David Bowie album, your mind is about to bend further than his did when penning its post-apocalyptic lyrics, because dog-inspired jewellery is now a thing.

The Italians have gone particularly barking for this craze, with dedicated brands like Dog’s Luxury by Mastrodoro. The Chinese, too, are primed for puppy love as we find ourselves in the Year of the Dog.

Yet the focus of this trend is not a general obsession with pooches, but a way to show affection for four-legged family members, be they Chihuahuas or King Charles spaniels. Brands like Pinomanna even encourage clients to send pictures of their pets, which are then dutifully transformed into bespoke gold and diamond lookalikes. It might not be the most wearable trend of the year, but every dog has its day.

This story was originally published in the March 2018 issue of Rapaport magazine. Continue reading to see layouts and download a full-sized PDF of the feature and front cover. (Main image: Suzanne Syz)

Royal engagement rings

© Written by Rachael Taylor for Tidlrs

Somewhere, lodged in the deepest recesses of our hearts, there is a much-suppressed princess dream, with all the castles and fairytale princes that go with it. Perhaps this is why whenever there is a royal engagement, we go into utter meltdown. And the British monarchy has been generous of late, giving us not one but two royal brides-to-be, and therefore two brand new styles of engagement rings to swoon over.

Next month, American actress Meghan Markle will follow in the footsteps of Grace Kelly and swap the production studio for a palace as she lives out the real-life princess dream when she weds Prince Harry. Though her ring – three diamonds set on a yellow band – might seem like a simple choice, and it is indeed a classic design, it has already altered the fate of many a fiancé this year.

The first thing to know about this ring, known as a trilogy, is that the central largest diamond was sourced by the couple in Botswana, a place that has captured both their hearts. The second – even more touching detail – is that the smaller stones were lifted from a tiara belonging to Prince Harry’s late mother, Princess Diana. This makes it a ring with a story…

This story was published on Tidlrs in April 2018. Click here to read the story in full. (Main image: Tacori)

Stellar stones

© Written by Rachael Taylor for Upward Curve

The historical magnitude of historical jewellery brands Cartier, Graff, Harry Winston and Van Cleef & Arpels is quite astonishing, just like the diamonds they pride themselves upon.

Cartier
From the wife of wealthy financier, Morton Plant, to the Duchess of Cambridge, Cartier has been in vogue and in demand since master jeweller Louis-François Cartier took over his mentor’s Parisian workshop in 1847. 

When Cartier’s grandson, Pierre, knocked on the door of Plant’s fifth avenue neo-renaissance mansion 65 years later, he fell in love with the place. Plant’s wife fell in love with Cartier’s double-stranded necklace of 128 flawlessly matched natural pearls (valued in 1912 at $1m – close to $20m today) and a deal was done, with Plant pocketing an additional $100 cash. Today, that Manhattan mansion is Cartier’s New York flagship store, and one of three Temples (Historical Maisons) worldwide. Paris’ Rue de la Paix is home to the global headquarters and New Bond Street houses London’s flagship store with an additional 200 boutiques in 125 countries…

This story was originally published in the July-September 2018 edition of Upward Curve magazine. Read the full story here. Main image: Van Cleef & Arpels.

Paris Couture Week, January 2018

© Written by Rachael Taylor for Adorn Insight

In the quieter session of what has now become an important bi-annual event for many Parisian high jewellery brands, the city’s Place Vendôme became a hub of collection launches during Paris Couture Fashion Week. Though there were less presentations held than the July edition, key major players used this moment in the fashion calendar to bring newness to clients.

The usual dependence on white diamonds ran central to the launches, though there were flashes of colour from gemstones including rhodochrosite, tanzanite, Padparadascha sapphires, rubies and beryl, as well as aluminum, yellow gold and rose gold. Heritage was a key design theme, with brands looking back to archives or moments in history for inspiration.

Boucheron, which did not launch a new collection during the January edition of the Week, used the time to open a major, and well attended, exhibition titled Vendorama at the nearby Monnaie de Paris that explored both the history and the future of the maison, with high jewellery designs from seasons past on display for the public to view. Despite the odd flash of brilliance, showcases throughout the Week were subdued affairs with simple plinths and a lack of investment, both monetary and creative, in the displaying of the jewels…

This story was published on Adorn Insight in January 2018. Click here to read the story in full (subscription required). Main image: Chanel. 

New-world charm

© Written by Rachael Taylor for Jewelry Connoisseur

About the same time Barack Obama took the oath of office the first time, jewellery lovers around the world were making their own pledge of allegiance — to charms. Though not a new concept, brands such as Pandora, Trollbeads and Thomas Sabo reinvented the charm bracelet for the modern age and created global campaigns that whipped us into a frenzy over the stockpiling of tiny silver charms to mark every milestone and love affair.

Like all white-hot trends, it reached a critical mass. The cool kids quickly turned their backs on this new hobby, leaving teens and their middle-aged mums free to agonise over the symbolism of a high-heel versus a red-lipstick charm. Which was more them?

Though sales have continued to be strong — leader of the pack Pandora boasts annual sales of more than $3 billion through its 8,000 stores on six continents — fashion moved on, and the romance with the charm bracelet became a mere flirtation. Until now, that it is…

This story was originally published on Jewelry Connoisseur. Read the full story here.

Main image: Annoushka

The Jewellery Cut Showroom

The Jewellery Cut, a new editorial website spearheaded by Rachael Taylor, will launch this summer. As well as publishing content year round on the site, The Jewellery Cut will host a series of live events, including The Jewellery Cut Showroom, which will take place over two days (September 17th and 18th) on Old Bond Street in London. Continue reading for an introduction to The Jewellery Cut and full details of the event.

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The royal effect

© Written by Rachael Taylor for Kensington & Chelsea 

When it comes to announcements, they don’t get bigger than a royal engagement. An outright frenzy erupted when His Royal Highness Prince Harry got down on one knee to Meghan Markle; a promise that will be fulfilled in May. But for some, the impact of that excitement will last a lifetime as brides-to-be, whipped up in dreams of being princesses, choose lookalike engagement rings.

“We probably get more enquiries about that than anything else,” says Garrard senior marketing executive Madeleine David, referring to what is perhaps the world’s most famous engagement ring – the Ceylon blue sapphire and diamond cluster worn by The Duchess of Cambridge. The ring was originally made by Garrard for His Royal Highness Prince Charles to present to Princess Diana when he proposed in 1981, passing down the family line to Kate Middleton when His Royal Highness Prince William popped the question, but David says that the origins of the design go back much further.

“People come in and ask for the Kate ring, but we say that we don’t do the exact thing, it’s just the most modern interpretation. It was chosen by Charles and Diana but it’s a classic Garrard design that started when Prince Albert worked with Garrard to commission the sapphire cluster brooch that he gave to Queen Victoria on the day before her wedding day as her something blue. So it’s not Kate’s ring or Diana’s ring, it’s actually Victoria’s brooch.”…

This story was published in the April 2018 issues of Kensington & Chelsea, Mayfair, Marylebone & Fitzrovia, Notting Hill & Holland Park magazines (click through to see digital versions of each issue, and continue reading to see magazine layouts). 

Trinkets and beads charm their way back into fashion

© Written by Rachael Taylor for The Financial Times

The craze for collectible charms and beads 10 years ago revolutionised brands such as Pandora, Trollbeads and Thomas Sabo. “It was massive,” says Lucy Reece-Raybould of the Company of Master Jewellers, a buying group representing more than 350 independent stores across the UK and 210 suppliers. “The charm has changed the jewellery world completely. For many of our retailers, the charm saved them.”

Revenues at Danish brand Pandora, for one, grew from DKr3.5bn ($560m) in 2009 to DKr22.8bn in 2017.

But sales of the small jewels, designed to be attached to bracelets, have stagnated, leaving companies wondering how to refresh consumer interest and revive profits…

This story was originally published in the March 31, 2018, edition of The Financial Times. Read the full story here

Girl on fire

© Written by Rachael Taylor for Swarovski‘s Salt magazine, published by Condé Nast 

When Park Shin Hye tries on jewellery, it is wise to have somebody on hand to catch what she drops. She might be one of South Korea’s most successful actresses and influential stars, but when it comes to keeping track of the small and the sparkling, she is a self-confessed klutz. “I’m always losing them,” she laughs, making the long delicate earrings shiver and catch the sunlight.

The jewellery she is wearing today is Atelier Swarovski and it has brought her halfway across the world from her home in Seoul to the south of France to shoot a campaign for the SS18 collection. Park is a friend of the brand, chosen not just for her talents as an actress, singer and dancer, but for her philanthropic work helping children.

One of the 27-year-old Park’s first steps towards the limelight was taken in 2003 when she played the character of a ragged but optimistic orphan in a war-torn land in the music video for ‘Flower’ by South Korean pop sensation Lee Seung-hwan…

This story was originally published in the January 2018 issue of Salt magazine. Continue reading for full story, and to see layouts and download a full-sized PDF of the feature. (Main image: Park Shin Hye in Atelier Swarovski)

Mini hoops

© Written by Rachael Taylor for Rapaport

While the catwalks remain under siege from enormous earrings, a quiet revolution is taking place in the commercial market: shoulder-grazing hoops are being superseded by miniature doppelgängers that fit snugly to lobes.

Full diamond pavé offers a classic yet high-glamour look, while flashes of bright enamel tap into next season’s trend for colour. Tiny hoops – or buggies, as they are sometimes called – can also be used as a plinth for charms, another of this year’s emerging trends.

When worn alone, these mini hoops lend their wearers an understated, minimalist cool. Grouped in multiple piercings, they take on an edge as stackable luxuries…

This story was originally published in the January 2018 issue of Rapaport magazine. Continue reading to see layouts and download a full-sized PDF of the feature and front cover. (Main image: Melissa Kaye Jewelry)