Jewellery goes back thousands of years and people will always adorn themselves.
While there will always be a market for true collection goods at the very high end, I think we will see a large shift away from consumer “fine” goods in brick and mortar stores. There are several factors that will be in play.
First and foremost is online shopping. It is taking a bigger bite of the market every year and I don’t see that trend ever slowing down.
Then there is the changing demographic. Younger people are simply not all that interested in real jewellery. They are very comfortable with the benefits of modern technology and have no negative feelings about treatments or synthetics. Cheap and fun are good. Look at Kay’s “I Like Candy” ads for candy-coloured diamonds. They get it!
No longer do people shop for jewellery with future generations in mind. A tattoo is forever, a diamond is only temporary.
Many people saw the underbelly of our industry when they tried to sell their better jewellery to survive and were offered pennies on the dollar. Where was that “lasting value” they were promised when they bought it?
Treatments and synthetic diamonds and gemstones are here to stay and will become even more pervasive and harder to detect. As much as we all strive for full disclosure at all levels, the reality is: It ain’t gonna happen.
So where does that leave us? I think that the majority of goods on the market will be treated or lab grown and that is what will keep the masses adorned. All stones will be assumed to be high-tech unless it has a pedigree (jewellery laboratory report). Mined, untreated colour gemstones will be very strong in the high end collectors market but too expensive for the mass market.
Some designers will do well, but only if they are affordable and REALLY artistic. Silver jewellery will be very strong at this level. Look for interesting designs featuring agates, fossils and meteorites.
Jewellery will be divided into two major segments…fun stuff and Rich People’s Stuff. Jewellery will become a true luxury item again, affordable only to those with a lot of disposable cash. Middle class people will trend toward fun stuff.
Laboratories will be for bigger players only, at least until advanced testing tools are affordable. While a starting gemologist used to be able to gear up for a few thousand at the most, now a serious gemologist needs to spend 10-20 times that amount to be able to be sure of an ID.
The modern hometown jewellery store will have to reinvent itself and find a market niche. It could be repair, custom designs, CAD-CAM, brass-n-glass bridal jewellery or something new. Expanding product mix will help. In the old days jewellery stores sold clocks, china, crystal and other luxury items. Finding the right lines to go with a repair or custom center will be essential for survival.
Mass market jewellery will be for the big retail chains…Walmart, Costco, Sams…yeah, those kind of chains. They will take a huge bite out of the bridal market.