© 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…
© 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)
© 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.
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.
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.
© Written by Rachael Taylor for The Financial Times
In the year 1300, King Edward I had had enough. Rogue goldsmiths were fooling his subjects into buying fake or underweight gold and silver. As an early example of consumer protection, he dispatched a trusted group of assayers to assure the validity of precious metals by testing and officially marking them. The heirs to these inspectors uphold this mission today, but as international competitors swallow Britain’s business, its assay offices are turning from a storied past to a radical future to ensure their survival.
Since its peak in 2003, the number of precious metal items hallmarked by the UK assay offices has dropped by more than 70 per cent, according to the AnchorCert Group, which collates statistics from the four UK assay offices. In 2003, the offices in London, Birmingham, Sheffield and Edinburgh collectively stamped 34.7m items; by 2016, 9.7m passed through their workshops.
The decline since 2007 in particular has been “unbelievable”, says Ashley Carson, who joined the Sheffield Assay Office straight from school and became the youngest assay master (head of an assay office) in history in 1993 at the age of 32. A post-recession drop in retail sales, rising precious metal prices and unfavourable EU legislation all took their toll…
This story was originally published in the September 2, 2017, edition of The Financial Times. Read the full story here. Main image: © Charlie Bibby for the FT.
All posts © Written by Rachael Taylor for JFW
Since the relaunch of the website for bi-annual jewellery, fashion and watch magazine JFW, I have been contributing regular stories. Here are some of those.
© Written by Rachael Taylor for The Financial Times
On a gloomy Wednesday morning in Staines, a town west of London, two women sit at a small table in the plush seating area of Swag jewellers having a congenial chat. They laugh and joke as if friends or close colleagues, which makes the nature of their relationship all the more surprising. Jo Henderson, who will submit an invoice after this and subsequent conversations, is a motivational coach brought in to enthuse Susanne Moschini and her colleagues at the jewellers — to deftly rein in the cocky, bolster the anxious and reflate the deflated.
Ms Henderson is not the only one making a living from motivating shop floor staff. She is part of a wave of trainers in the jewellery and watch industry eschewing flipcharts and sales transcripts in favour of a person-centric approach, and businesses from independent jewellers to international watch brands are paying for it.
This is becoming a more common scenario across the broader economy: staff need motivating as their wages lag. UK inflation outpaced wage growth between 2008 and 2014, and looks like it will do so again this year. The UK was also the only major advanced nation where wages fell — by 1 per cent a year — as its economy expanded between 2007 and 2015, according to the OECD…
This story was originally published in the June 1, 2017, edition of The Financial Times. Read the full story here. Main image: Jo Henderson of JHJC (© Jon Super for the FT).
© Written by Rachael Taylor for Adorn Insight
A recent research report released by global bank Barclays has suggested that British men are now spending more on clothes, shoes and grooming than women, with an average of £300 more spent each year. The report also suggested that men are spending more on fashion than on drinks with friends or on tickets to sporting events. In response to this shift in spending power, the jewellery industry has expanded with new collections and brands that put men first.
Men’s jewellery was a key component of the SS18 Fashion Week catwalks. In Paris, Paul & Joe’s Ready-to-Wear show stood out as the male models were adorned with simple silver jewels including pinky rings, pendants and small hoop earrings, while the female models wore none. Givenchy and Isabel Marant followed suit with similar jewellery styles for men, while brands including Missoni and Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood made bolder statements with brooches, layered necklaces and statement earrings.
Shaun Leane and Stephen Webster have been pioneers in creating edgy men’s jewellery collections, and both have released new work of this genre. Earlier this year, Shaun Leane released its first dedicated men’s collection for a decade. The Arc collection is a slick, minimalist silver range inspired by “the power of a single, sculpted line”, and includes stacking bracelets, woven leather bracelets with silver elements designed to patina with age, pendants and tie pins…
This story was published on Adorn Insight in December 2017. Click here to read the story in full (subscription required). Main image: Oscar Graves.
© Written by Rachael Taylor for Retail Jeweller
The IJL catwalk will give visitors an insight into SS18 fashions and how to make them work for your brand, says the show’s trend editor Rachael Taylor.
Chase the Rainbow
It’s big, it’s bold and it’s going to draw a lot of attention – in shop windows as well as on the IJL catwalk. This trend is all about incorporating colour into jewellery. A rainbow of sapphires would work well here, as would the fabric costume jewels de rigueur on the runways, but consider, too, chromatic flashes that push boundaries.
At the top end of the market, designers are having fun with metal. Titanium, which can be heat-treated to turn it a variety of shades, including purple, blue and pink, is now a staple of high jewellery collections from houses such as Chopard. Meanwhile, trendsetting jewellers are tweaking alloys to offer gold in hies including fuchsia, black, green and brown…
This story was originally published in the September 2017 issue of Retail Jeweller magazine. Continue reading to see magazine layouts and click the link beneath for full-size PDF. Main image: CW Sellors.
© Written by Rachael Taylor for Luxury London
If you’re not familiar with gouache, you could be forgiven for thinking it sounds vaguely like an awkward fashion mistake or perhaps a hearty Hungarian dish. Dig a little deeper and a ravishing world of colour opens up. Gouache is the art of painting in opaque watercolour and was used by masters such as Matisse and Toulouse-Lautrec.
What is less well known is that for centuries bespoke jewellery designers have been using the art form to guide craftsmen when they create the final pieces. Even now, top houses like Boucheron, Dior and Piaget insist on using a delicate painting, known as a ‘render’ in the trade, which is passed from stone setters to goldsmiths to polishers.
Chelsea-based fine jewellery designer Luis Miguel Howard explains: “The process of creating a gouache is quite straightforward, but it is also time-consuming and requires some skill. “Most are painted on vellum, tracing paper or coloured Ingres paper. Shadows are painted in Chinese ink, while metal and stones are in washes of gouache of varying intensities, often leaving areas unpainted to give a sense of lightness and delicacy.”…
This story was published on Luxury London in October 2017, as well as in print in Kensington & Chelsea and Mayfair magazines. Click here to read the story in full. Main image: Piaget.
© Written by Rachael Taylor for Rapaport
With a return that outstrips white diamonds, rare top-quality examples of coloured diamonds are proving to be an attractive alternative investment for buyers with an eye on the future – and pockets deep enough to compete.
Research released last month by the Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index (KFLII) claims the price of coloured diamonds has risen 89% in the past decade, while white diamond appreciation over the same period has been slower at about 30%. The decade’s worth of data that Knight Frank has compiled shows that colour matters when it comes to a return on investment. Between 2010 and 2015, pink diamonds delivered the highest growth at 189%, blue diamond prices rose 89%, and yellows were up 17%. Over the past year, however, blue diamonds have taken over as the stone to invest in, delivering a 5.5% increase; average prices of pink diamonds have actually dipped in the past 12 months.
Look a little more closely at the KFLII data and you can spot a slowing in the colour diamond boom. Average prices of coloured diamonds increased just 15% in the past five years and were flat in the past 12 months. Thomas Gelb of the Natural Color Diamond Association isn’t worried though…
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: Fancy intense blue diamond sold at auction house Bonhams)
© Written by Rachael Taylor for Tidlrs
From mismatched statement earrings to the tightest luxury chokers, these are the essential fine jewellery trends to see you through the season.
A beautiful earring can so easily lose points when it is flipped over to reveal an ugly patchwork of stone settings and undecorated metal. With sleek pony tails being one of the key hair trends this season, and big earrings the must-have jewellery look, the backs of your earrings need to be as opulent as the front.
Look for designs that consider the aesthetics of the earring from every angle to create 360° glamour. Luxury houses will often pay special attention to the backs of earrings, adorning them with pretty enamel artworks, extra gemstones or instructing their goldsmiths to create intricate etchings in the metal…
This story was published on Tidlrs in October 2017. Click here to read the story in full.
© Written by Rachael Taylor for ROX Magazine
The temperature may be dropping, but things are heating up at ROX this season as we take a look at some of AW17’s hottest jewellery trends. Rachael Taylor shines a spotlight on our winter collections and she’s got everything covered, from warm autumnal tones to frosty white diamonds.
A style icon
The choker was the jewellery icon of the summer, with stars like Beyoncé and Cara Delevigne keeping neck adornments high on the style agenda. But don’t expect this trend to disappear with the final festival of the season; chokers were a major feature of the AW17 catwalk shows at Chanel, Givenchy, Elie Saab and more. For a wintery twist, swap the hippy black bands of summer for a refined diamond solitaire choker necklace that will transform your clavicle into a delicate twinkling display on dark nights…
This edition of The Jewellery Edit was originally written for the AW17 issue of ROX Magazine. Continue reading to see layouts and read the feature in full here (starts page 75).
Jewellery journalist, Rachael Taylor, gives us the inside scoop on what it’s like to write about jewellery professionally, how she got into it, and what her secret indulgences would be if she could choose any jewel in the world to own. Hear her thoughts on the topic of jewellery as art at our next exhibition in South Kensington.
HAVE YOU ALWAYS HAD AN INTEREST IN JEWELLERY?
I have always had an interest in jewellery, although I would not say I’ve always had incredibly good taste in jewellery. My early introductions to precious metals were straight out of a Littlewoods catalogue – leaping gold dolphin necklaces, curb-link chains, signet rings. I was a bit of a tomboy and my tastes reflected that. Although, all this is really trendy now, so perhaps I was just a (very) early adopter! My appreciation and understanding of jewellery truly developed when I landed a job at industry magazine Retail Jeweller in 2008, which was more by chance than design. I was already working for the publisher at the time, and someone suggested me for the role. It turned out to be a great fit, and I was soon completely immersed in the jewellery industry and totally enamoured by everything I was learning and seeing, and the colourful characters I met. It was a whole new world, and one that I still enjoy a decade after my first encounter.
WHAT IS THE MOST INTERESTING THING YOU HAVE DISCOVERED ABOUT JEWELLERY SINCE YOU STARTED WRITING ABOUT IT?
Other than the people – and that really has been a huge part of why I’ve stayed reporting on jewellery – I would have to say that I’ve become totally fascinated by gemmology. This came to me slightly later in my career. In the early days, I was very much focused on the people and businesses driving the industry, but when I started to write for Maria Doulton’s website The Jewellery Editor in 2015, when I started freelancing, I was commissioned to write a series of stories that delved deeply into different gemstones – how they are formed, the chemical compositions that create their colour, the history of their discovery, how they are best used. Perhaps because I hadn’t written too much about the specifics of the stones themselves before this, I did a lot of research into each, reading GIA reports, talking to experts on each stone. It really fired something in me, and I felt like after years of writing about jewellery, I suddenly had found a whole new vein of exploration and discovery. A few years later, and I’m still learning about and discovering gemstones I hadn’t heard of before. It keeps it interesting…
Read the full interview I did with Dazera about my career as a jewellery journalist here.
© Written by Rachael Taylor for VO+
Lab-grown diamonds have been in production since the 1950s, used commercially for weapons and machinery, yet only now are these man-made gemstones starting to gain traction in the consumer jewellery market, with the US taking the lead. While the traditional jewellery industry finds itself confused by their arrival, tech companies in Silicon Valley like Diamond Foundry are throwing money and influence at these alternative diamonds.
While they have never been near a pit, these gems should not be confused with synthetic stones. Made in labs using technology that mimics the same geological pressures that create diamonds beneath the earth’s surface, they are nearly gemmologically identical to mined diamonds. The retail price, though, is 30% less.
Within Diamond Foundry’s headquarters in California, it uses proprietary technology to grow diamonds up to 9cts in size within weeks, and has an annual production capability of 24,000cts. The company was started in 2012 by Martin Roscheisen, founder of the solar power company Nanosolar, and engineers Jeremy Scholz and Kyle Gazay. In November 2015, it officially launched with an initial batch of 160 diamonds that sold out in two weeks…
This interview with Diamond Foundry chief executive Martin Roscheisen was originally written for the Fall 2017 issue of VO+ (starts page 224). Continue reading to see layouts.
As IJL Trend Editor this year, I curated the trends that shaped the catwalk shows at London jewellery trade show IJL in September. The four main jewellery trends and the bridal trend that I identified for the spring/summer 2018 season were: Chase the Rainbow, The Artisan, The Next Frontier, True Romance, and High Spirits (bridal).
Continue reading to find out about each trend in depth, see photos from the IJL catwalk shows and see a video of the catwalk.
© Written by Rachael Taylor for JFW
For the spring/summer 2017 issue of JFW magazine I curated a selection of ear cuffs from contemporary jewellers Foundrae, Repossi, Kova, NC Rocks, Delfina Delettrez and Lily Gabriella. Continue reading to see the layout and click the link beneath for a full-sized PDF.