New frontiers

© Written by Rachael Taylor for Retail Jeweller 

With a rich heritage and an unrivalled reputation as a tastemaker, British products are in demand across the globe, with jewellery being the UK’s third-largest exported good, according to HMRC. But with worldwide consumer buying patterns in flux and the emergence of new global spending powers, which markets should British jewellers be targeting?

According to the Office for National Statistics, the US is the UK’s largest export market after the European Union, accounting for about 19% of all exports. With similar tastes but greater spending power, it has been a keen hunting ground for British jewellers for decades, and many have found favour there.

After receiving her first commission in the 1960s from Cartier, veteran British jeweller Elizabeth Gage developed a somewhat NYLON existence at the very start of her career that has continued until this day, with bi-annual trunk shows in Houston and New York. Stephen Webster also started his brand in the States, on the opposite coast in Santa Barbara, California. After winning the Editor’s Choice award at Las Vegas trade show Couture in 1999, he ordered the opening of a sales office in New York the same year, and this foresight, and a loyal clientele, have ensured that the US is the brand’s single biggest market nearly 20 years later…

This story was originally published in the March 2018 issue of Retail Jeweller magazine. Continue reading to see magazine layouts and download full-size PDFs. Main image: Elizabeth Gage.


Artful transformations

© Written by Rachael Taylor for Rapaport

Value for money has always been a feature of high jewellery. In the 18th century, tiaras could be broken down into brooches, pendants and earrings after the candles of a ball were snuffed, and transformability continues to be a theme that permeates today’s couture collections.

In the commercial market, we are also seeing demand for clever jewels that can offer more than one look. This is less about ensuring appropriate bang for buck than allowing consumers to adapt their jewels to fit the many facets of their lives.

Designs that they can dress up or down depending on the occasion, or that can change colour to match an outfit or reflect a mood, have become a useful tool in the style arsenal of modern women…

This story was originally published in the December 2017 issue of Rapaport magazine. Continue reading to see layouts and download a full-sized PDF of the feature and front cover. (Main image: Nanis)

The future of the luxury watch industry

© Written by Rachael Taylor for Deutsche Wealth

Glance at the wrist of the closest Millennial to you right now, and the chances are you’ll find it bare. With their thumbs perpetually glued to tiny portable screens, each kitted out with impeccably accurate digital clocks, this generation has little need for archaic methods of timekeeping such as the wristwatch. Unless, of course, it can measure their heartbeat and track their steps.

“Technically, watches became irrelevant as soon as the smartphone hit the scene,” says a deadpan Emily Stoll, director of North American sales and marketing at luxury Swiss watch brand Carl F Bucherer, which has been creating mechanical watches on the banks of the Lucerne since 1888. “Appealing to younger generations has certainly proved to be a challenge across the industry. Current trends around fast fashion and tech have weakened the appeal of luxury craftsmanship.”

Nonchalant youths have not been the only challenge for the recently embattled watch industry. Exports of Swiss watches – which act as a barometer for the health of the global trade – recently suffered a period of significant decline. In 2016, the value of exports dropped to a six-year low of CHF19.4 billion (down nearly 10% on the year before), according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry’s accounts

This story was originally published on January 4, 2018, on Read the full story here. Main image: Jono Holt, co-founder of Farer.


Jewellery judge

© Written by Rachael Taylor for Rapaport

What’s as hot as ever, and what’s on its way out. 


Even bigger, even better statement earrings
Long neglected as consumers favoured building up charm bracelets, stacking rings and layering necklaces, the earring is now the most talked-about jewel. Innovation has abounded as the trend for creative earrings has evolved from cuffs and climbers into asymmetric designs, solo earrings and devil-may-care pick ‘n’ mix combinations. This is a trend that will remain strong over the next year. Along with lopsided lobes, statements like huge shoulder-grazing earrings, colourful fabric tassels and eccentric faux gemstones will keep the ear a noteworthy appendage for jewellers…

This story was originally published in the December 2017 issue of Rapaport magazine. Continue reading to see layouts and download a full-sized PDF of the feature and front cover. (Main image: Katrine Kristensen)


The legacy of British expats on Hong Kong’s jewellery scene

© Written by Rachael Taylor for The Financial Times

In 1972, Marcia Lanyon left a job in London with society jeweller John Donald and followed her husband to Hong Kong, where he was working for airline Cathay Pacific. Ms Lanyon says: “As an expat spouse, you were just expected to take up flower arranging, but I was always pretty ambitious.”

Instead of conforming to expat life, she took a job in a “grim” jewellery factory in North Point as a gem buyer, but after the glamour of London’s elite jewellery circles, she did not last long. She quit and started a business out of her home, giving gemmological courses to small classes of bored expat housewives and curious Chinese students. Ms Lanyon stayed in Hong Kong for just three years (“my husband hated it”) but she has been widely credited as the founder of gemmological education in the city — and a role model for the generations of jewellers, local and expat, who have followed her.

“Hong Kong was a big centre for jewellery . . . yet when I arrived, you could count the number of gemmologists on one hand,” says Ms Lanyon, who is retiring after almost 40 years at her wholesale coloured gemstone company. She observed gems passing hands without any form of grading or understanding of their value. “My argument was that people would pay more if they knew what they were getting.”…

This story was originally published in the September 28, 2017, edition of The Financial Times. Read the full story here. Main image: Nathalie Melville © FT.



Looking good

© Written by Rachael Taylor for Retail Jeweller 

Footfall on British high streets is in freefall while online sales continue to rise, so it’s little surprise that jewellery retailers are turning to the internet for inspiration on how to lure consumers back to bricks and mortar with clever merchandising strategies that mimic the best of digital.

“Our brief was simply to create something Instagrammable,” says Lloyd Blakey, creative director of Innovare Design, a retail design consultancy that has worked with jewellery retailers including Hugh Rice, Green + Benz and TH Baker. The client Blakey is referring to, however, is a gin brand called Sipsmith. It was a simple brief, and one that perfectly captures one of the key drivers of footfall today – shareable experiences.

The solution for this particular request was to install what Blakey refers to as a “tasting wall” in the west London distillery, an installation that charts the process of gin making. “It became a natural place to take a photo,” he says. “People gravitate towards it. There is that element of curiosity and intrigue.”…

This story was originally published in the November 2017 issue of Retail Jeweller magazine. Continue reading to see magazine layouts and download full-size PDFs. Main image: Luxe by Hugh Rice.


Carbon copy

© Written by Rachael Taylor for Kensington & Chelsea 

As you wiggle your finger, it dances and sparkles in the light, throwing out rainbow hues that make you gasp and coo. But what if I told you that the diamond you are admiring came not from beneath the Earth’s surface, but a pristine lab in Silicone Valley? Would it change how you feel about it?

This is a question worth considering as science now gives us the option of buying diamonds created by humans. In labs across the world, from Germany to China, men and women in white coats are recreating the exact same conditions that turned carbon into diamonds all those millions of years ago. And it’s working.

Not to be confused with cubic zirconia or rhinestones, lab-grown diamonds are real and have the same optical and gemological properties as mined diamonds. Even trained gemmologists sometimes can’t tell the difference…

This story was published in the March 2018 issue of Kensington & Chelsea magazine. Click here to see a digital version of the magazine (starts p34) and continue reading to see layouts and download full-sized PDFs. Main image: Anabela Chan. 


Bye bye brands…

© Written by Rachael Taylor for Retail Jeweller 

The post-recession explosion of silver jewellery brands in the UK market came at a time when the industry sorely needed a boost. Soaring precious metals prices made gold – until then, the bread and butter of jewellery sales – unattainable for most, and the trade remained shrouded in a dusty, fuddy-duddy image. The entry of flashy, fashionable brands like Pandora was revolutionary and made jewellery relevant to a new audience. Yet all revolutions have a life cycle. After a dazzling peak, are we slipping closer to a trough as some retailers start to move away from jewellery brands?

“Five years ago, 70% of our business was jewellery, and 70% of that was branded jewellery, but [branded jewellery] has shrunk to an almost irrelevant amount now,” says Kyron Keogh, co-founder of Rox. The Glasgow-based retailer still works with select jewellery brands – Thomas Sabo, Gucci and its latest signing Chopard, which Keogh says is selling well to a “young, fashionable crowd” – but five years ago it started to develop its own brand, employing an in-house designer, and reduced its dependency on brands. Now the majority of the jewels it stocks are sold in a Rox box.

A key message within the industry over the past couple of years has been the importance of building a retail brand that is stronger than the branded jewels sold within it. Independent retailers have invested in shop fits and branding that create a memorable identity with signature colours, such as the blue of Kings Hill Jewellery in St Albans, a retailer that has also moved away from brands to focus on its own Kings Hill Collections of fine jewellery…

This story was originally published in the January 2018 issue of Retail Jeweller magazine. Continue reading to see magazine layouts and download full-size PDFs. Main image: Hamilton & Inches.


Antique revival jewels

© Written by Rachael Taylor for Rapaport

As auction houses court Millennials with digital bidding platforms, and dusty antique shops in forgotten corners of town are reinvented as sport for weekend vintage hunters, jewels from the past have found a place in the present.

To be classed as antique, a jewel must be at least 100 years old, but each of these future heirlooms came fresh off the bench this year.

These revival pieces are proof that styles from the history books – the linear designs of Art Deco, floral flourishes of Art Nouveau, Georgian repoussé, Victorian mourning jewels – are still very much in demand…

This story was originally published in the November 2017 issue of Rapaport magazine. Continue reading to see layouts and download a full-sized PDF of the feature and front cover. (Main image: Sarah Ho)



© Written by Rachael Taylor for Adorn Insight

Vicenzaoro opened a sold-out six-day show on January 19th, 2018, filling 25,000sqm with 1,500 exhibitors. The Italian trade show started on a buoyant note, with Italian Exhibition Group president Lorenzo Cagnoni describing a recovery in demand for gold, Italy’s main jewellery export, and visitor numbers totalling 96,000.

The exhibition also boasted a 10% increase in luxury brands at the show and said that 20% of stands were taken by first-time exhibitors. This increase could be a result of some brands moving away from the more expensive Baselworld exhibition that will open in March with half the number of exhibitors it had last year. One example was luxury Swiss jeweller Baenteli, which has this year abandoned its native show after a solid 20-year run in favour of Vicenzaoro.

The Design Room section of the show returned after its launch last year and featured a well-crafted offering of international boutique brands including Fernando Jorge, Bea Bongiasca, Netali Nissim and Noor Fares…

This story was published on Adorn Insight in January 2017. Click here to read the story in full (subscription required). Main image: Sutra. 


The year in review

© Written by Rachael Taylor for Retail Jeweller 

Prince Harry and American actress Mehgan Markle announced their intention to marry, and after the seismic shift his brother’s choice of engagement ring caused in the global jewellery industry, hopes are high that the latest royal engagement will do the same.

The world’s currently most-photographed ring has a trilogy of diamonds set on a yellow band, and was created by Court Jewellers and Medallists to Her Majesty the Queen, Cleave & Company. The largest of the three diamonds, an elongated cushion cut, was sourced from Botswana, where the couple recently holidayed. The two smaller diamonds flanking it were taken from a brooch belonging to Prince Harry’s mother, Diana, Princess of Wales.

Though a classic design, many in the industry still expect the engagement ring to have an impact on bridal trends next year. “We’re expecting an increase in demand for trilogy rings and have already had several inquiries looking for an inspired design,” says Kyron Keogh, co-founder of jewellery chain Rox…

This story was originally published in the January 2018 issue of Retail Jeweller magazine. Continue reading to see magazine layouts and download full-size PDFs. Main image: Meghan Markle’s engagement ring (credit:



© Written by Rachael Taylor for Rapaport

As divisive politics and humanitarian crises trample global morale, luxury jewellery designers are escaping to the regenerative positivity of nature. There has been a veritable bouquet of jubilant, colourful collections inspired by flora and fauna.

A particular highlight is Dior’s verdant Dior à Versailles côté Jardins collection, laden with clusters of coloured-gemstone flowers, which made its debut in Paris this summer.

Marquise- and pear-shaped gems lend themselves well to floral jewels, as they are perfect doppelgängers of the petals and leaves found in nature. Long and winding drops or chains suggest new growth, while metal settings should appear organic to capture the beauty of a garden in bloom…

This story was originally published in the October 2017 issue of Rapaport magazine. Continue reading to see layouts and download a full-sized PDF of the feature and front cover. (Main image: Dior)


The essential SS18 catwalk jewellery report

© Written by Rachael Taylor for IJL

The month of September heralded the debut of spring/summer 2018 collections from a stream of fashion designers in London, Paris, Milan and New York. And the runways’ romance with statement jewellery was far from over.

Mammoth earrings remained – quite literally – the biggest overall jewellery trend, with oversized, asymmetrical and solo earrings incorporated into nearly every show. Many jewels were with bursting colour, while layering was a strong look on both the neck and wrist, and brooches were phenomenally popular.

Read on for five of the key trends from the SS18 ready-to-wear shows, including the revival of the charm bracelet and the affirmation of the importance of men’s jewellery…

This story was originally published in October 2017 on Read the full story here. Main image: IJL catwalk 2017. 



Fine prints, ceramic 2.0 and high-tech hues

© Written by Rachael Taylor for JFW

As jewellery editor of JFW magazine, I edited three pages of innovative jewels for the autumn/winter edition of the magazine, which was dedicated to new technologies. I explored High-tech Hues like nano-ceramic plating and titanium, 3D-printed jewels for Fine Prints, and considered how jewellery designers are using ceramic in modern ways in the story Ceramic 2.0. Continue reading to see layouts and download full-sized PDFs.

These stories were originally published in the autumn/winter 2018 edition of JFW. Main image: Caratell.  


A bit on the side

© Written by Rachael Taylor for Retail Jeweller 

Those unassuming leather strips, bound in a bundle with rubber bands, hidden in drawers, can so often be an afterthought. Yet the humble watch strap – and other watch accessories – are proving to be a spot of sunshine for an industry still operating under a cloud.

Looking at the stats, the UK watch industry is experiencing a boom. According to market analyst GfK, the value of sales of watches priced at more than £1,000 was up 25% at the start of this year. However, 40% of the value of the market last year was dominated by the top three watch brands and 48% of the value of sales was made in the capital – so if you are outside the luxury London bubble, competition is tougher.

“There’s a lot of talk about the growth of luxury watches post-Brexit, but as a general rule, jewellers are reporting that it is quite quiet on the high street,” says Simon Walker, UK country manager for global watch strap behemoth Hirsch…

This story was originally published in the July 2017 issue of Retail Jeweller magazine. Continue reading to see magazine layouts and download full-size PDFs. Main image: Darlena.



I am a proud ambassador of The Women’s Jewellery Network (WJN), the UK’s only dedicated organisation supporting women in the UK jewellery industry. This week, the Women’s Jewellery Network has launched a viral social media campaign to celebrate the ambition and drive of both the organisation and its members.


This bold image stating #NoGlassCeiling has been shared widely by those working in the UK jewellery trade, through social channels such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Representing the vision of the Women’s Jewellery Network, the campaign declares that no glass ceiling exists for women working in the UK jewellery industry, and that it’s time to shatter the illusion it ever did.

“We have created #NoGlassCeiling to allow women to visually declare the viewpoint that the so-called glass ceiling designed to hold us back doesn’t exist — what does exist is our shared ambition and determination to grow our careers, businesses and skills to achieve true success in the UK jewellery trade.” – Victoria McKay, founder, Women’s Jewellery Network…



Stoked for chokers

© Written by Rachael Taylor for Rapaport

As a new generation comes of age, a decade that might still seem fresh for some suddenly becomes nostalgia. Fashion, music and culture have all zeroed in on the 1990s as a bubble of carefree freedom, experimentation and positive change, and the jewellery star of that decade was the choker.

Every self-respecting ’90s teen strapped a thin length of black material around their necks, and this model has made the transition to the 2017 seamlessly. Along with the classic velvet and grosgrain ribbon, leather bands are giving the look a modern update, and delicate diamond charms sit at the centre.

This time around, the choker is not just for teeny boppers. Runway shows from FW17 and SS18 collections have presented the choker as an elegant accessory for both day and evening looks. For customers who might want to avoid the youthful connotations of all-black chokers, precious metal versions offer a more grown-up alternative…

This story was originally published in the October 2017 issue of Rapaport magazine. Continue reading to see layouts and download a full-sized PDF of the feature and front cover. (Main image: Ole Lyngaard)


Sparkling stories

© Written by Rachael Taylor for Upward Curve

A diamond is not just about aesthetic. The history locked in a stone lain undisturbed for millions of years – while chaos and seismic change erupts on the surface – lends it a cool magic. And exactly the same allure is mastered by the by the world’s most famous jewellery brands.

Bernard Arnault, French billionaire and chief executive the world’s most exclusive luxury conglomerate, LVMH, once said that in the “luxury business you have to build on heritage”.

In New York, Cartier’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue is brimming with juicy narrative; the foremost being how Pierre Cartier, grandson to founder Louis-François Cartier, acquired the building in 1912. He fell in love with the neo-Rennaisance-style mansion, which was, at the time, owned by financier Morton Plant. When Plant’s wife, in turn, fell for a pricey Cartier natural pearl necklace, a deal was struck to swap the jewel, plus $100, for the building…

This story was originally published in the January-March 2018 edition of Upward Curve magazine. Read the full story here and continue reading to see layouts and download a full-size PDF. Main image: Cartier.


British Academy of Jewellery column

All stories © Written by Rachael Taylor for the British Academy of Jewellery 

To help the students of the British Academy of Jewellery get a broad insight into the industry they will soon be entering, I create a weekly round up of the most interesting jewellery news from around the globe, which you can find here in the BAJ Digest section of the website. I also write a weekly column on a topic that has emerged in the news that week. You can find some of my recent columns below.

BAJ Insight: A new sisterhood for the jewellery industry
BAJ Insight: Jewellery auctions are alive and kicking outside London
BAJ Insight: Five important takeaways from my talk at Graduation
BAJ Insight: Get ready for royal engagement ring pandemonium
BAJ Insight: Why are jewellery shops becoming places to eat?
BAJ Insight: The trailblazer, the original and the mastermind
BAJ Insight: 10 times men’s jewellery didn’t give up at dog tags

Is experiential retailing the future for jewellers?

When shopping can be as simple as a click of a mouse, retailers need to deliver more than just product to get consumers through the door. Join this panel of retailers, moderated by journalist Rachael Taylor, as they discuss how best to create those experiences, from running Michelin-starred restaurants in stores to installing the latest tech or trend-led pop ups. Listen to the podcast here.

Panellists: Dominic Gomersall, managing director, Lumbers; Jonathan Pressley, managing director, Pressleys Jewellers; Dinny Hall, founder and creative director, Dinny Hall; Lloyd Blakey, founder and creative director, Innovare Design.

This recording was made during IJL in September, 2017.