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Wanted Online: Revenge buying, record prices, e-commerce: Jewellery trends that dazzled in 2020

Revenge buying, covetable jewellery doing well online, record prices at auction — these are some of the trends nobody could have predicted for luxury accessories leading into 2020. But what a year it was…The strong sales tallied in China post-lockdown induced the new retail term “revenge buying”, meaning consumers are making up for lost shopping time and overindulging. Global management consultancy Bain & Company expects the personal luxury goods market to contract between 20% and 35% in 2020.

However, analysts say online sales, which already experienced double-digit growth in 2019, will continue to gain market share, and they expect them to account for up to 30% of the market by 2025. For the most part, this trend has been driven by the younger generations, Y and Z, dominating the luxury market.

Claudia D’Arpizio, partner at Bain & Company, said spending on jewellery in the near term will be a “mixed bag”, partially because the gold price has soared. What’s more, she does not expect to see a resurgence of “luxury shame”, as these products aren’t as stigmatised as they used to be. Leading high-end brands today focus on craftsmanship, sustainable values, and inclusiveness, so there’s a move away from flaunting wealth.

Nevertheless, while some of the wealthy may have played down their good fortune during the pandemic, collectible jewellery sales did very well behind the scenes. Sotheby’s notched up $7.4-million from online jewellery sales in 2020, selling 93% of available items. That’s almost $1-million more than the combined pre-sale high estimate. Sotheby’s specialist Catharine Becket, who managed the auction house’s Magnificent Jewels sale in New York earlier this year, told Bloomberg that her wealthy clients are “buying jewels as a sort of pick-me-up. Clients are sequestering at home and, generally speaking, leading relatively dreary lives. Some were wearing their big diamonds inside their homes because it brings joy.”

A diamond and enamel tutti frutti bracelet by Cartier fetched $1.3-million at a Sotheby’s online auction, $500,000 more than its high estimate. This is a record for a jewel and the second-highest price for anything ever sold in this manner. (Friedrich von Hayek’s Nobel Prize in Economics from 1974 holds top spot with its $1.5-million sale in 2019.) “The result achieved for this bracelet is testament to the fact that, even under the most challenging of circumstances, the demand for great art endures,” Becket told Forbes. “Tutti frutti jewels have always held a special allure for collectors.”

One of this year’s most memorable high-jewellery launches has been Cartier’s [Sur]naturel collection. Described by Pierre Rainero — Cartier’s director of image, heritage, and style — as a form of escapism through nature and imagination, one of my favourite pieces is the Panthère Tropicale high-jewellery watch with its kaleidoscopic combination of aquamarine, tourmaline, and coral on a yellow-gold cuff. The Gharial necklace in platinum, featuring octagonal emeralds from Zambia — as well as tapered, square-shaped, and brilliant-cut diamonds — comes in a close second.

Colourful combinations incorporating sustainably sourced precious stones or organic gemstones, such as coral and pearls, remain popular. “Coral works well with yellow gold, which is in again, and rose gold, which is still favoured,” says Richard Greig of the local family business Charles Greig jewellers. “Our pieces are well curated around the enduring appeal of radiant colour.”

Pearl jewellery featured on the runways for spring/summer 2020 in designs ranging from traditional and feminine to opulent and eclectic. There were sculptured pieces as well as those showcasing the pearl’s natural shape to add a touch of femininity and timelessness to the look.

Designers took inspiration from the heavens too, and celestial jewellery returned as a fashion favourite. If you were drawn to orbital cocktail rings or layered spherical earrings, you were right on trend.

Insects and flowers and fish and birds all had their moment too, the one depiction more lifelike than the next. This is where artisanal craftsmanship really shines. Chopard’s Red Carpet Collection 2020 is such an example. It includes a polar bear ring with pavé-set brilliant-cut diamonds in ethically sourced 18kt white gold. Its expressive face features cabochon-cut sapphires for the eyes and black diamonds for the ears and heart-shaped nose. The maison sources all its diamonds from suppliers certified by the Responsible Jewellery Council.

Chopard’s celebrated artisans typically flood their floral pieces with colour. The Ginkgo earrings and ring — with pear-shaped emeralds, tsavorites, and yellow sapphires to mimic the foliage — are testament to their skill.

Besides pieces inspired by nature, oversized hoops, gold chokers, chunky chains, layered or ultra-long necklaces, mismatched earrings, chandelier ear cuffs, charm bracelets, stacked rings, and stacked bracelets were also among this year’s jewellery trends. The stacking trend favoured fine, simple pieces that enabled the incorporation of mixed metals or stones.

As far as chains go, few can beat Italy’s rich history of goldsmithing and chain-making since the 19th century. “There is no jewel that screams moneyed sophistication quite so much as a gold chain. Its history stretches all the way back to the ancient Egyptians, who believed that wearing this precious metal around their neck would ward off evil spirits, while Tudor royals wore elaborate chains to signify their power and status,” writes jewellery aficionado Katerina Perez on her eponymous website.

“Today, however, gold chains are always in vogue and, this season, the chunkier the better.” Gold chains produced in Italy set the “benchmark globally for quality and durability”.

POMELLATO: UNCONVENTIONAL AND SUSTAINABLE

Established in Milan in 1967, Pomellato pieces are known for their unique design and craftsmanship by master artisans, some of whom are second generation, at their in-house atelier. “The world of fine jewellery can be quite conservative in terms of values, aesthetics, and imagery. Not for Pomellato: being unconventional, in fact, is a defining trait of our proudly Milanese, fiercely Italian, decidedly international personality,” CEO Sabina Belli says in a press release.

Unconventionality, in the end, is the essence of beauty, explains Pomellato gems master Stefano Cortecci: “An inclusive, fresh, empowering, and empowered kind of beauty. It’s all about wit and personality, not about mere self-decoration.” Vincenzo Castaldo, creative director of Pomellato’s Nudo collection, says the brand is the essence of its work: “The lack of hard edges, the intensity of colour, the sensuality, and the organic charm are traits that recur in all our collections — from Tango to Victoria, from Capri to Sabbia to Mama non M’ama. Our inspiration comes from natural, organic worlds.”

Pomellato is part of Kering, a global group “crafting tomorrow’s luxury”. Three years after announcing its next-generation sustainability strategy, Kering has achieved 100% responsible gold purchasing for its jewellery and watches and is on track to reach 100% sustainable sourcing for other key raw materials by 2025. Pomellato continues to invest in the traceability of coloured stones and diamonds while exploring new materials and recycling solutions.

Belli told British Vogue that “the road to a more sustainable future is long, but I am hopeful that with the help of the industry, our consumers, and the media, the situation will keep improving.” Pomellato’s Denim collection, which features lapis lazuli from an artisanal mine in Chile, is a move towards influencing meaningful and permanent change.

BULGARI: RESPONSIBLE AND REBELLIOUS

Jean-Christophe Babin, Bulgari’s CEO, said sustainability can take many forms, whether it be ethical sourcing or eliminating plastic across its manufacturing, stores, and hotels. “I believe that a company is not only about maximising profits at any cost but also about behaving as a responsible citizen within its community,” Babin told British Vogue.

These are strong women who breathe their own style into jewellery. They influence diamonds, and not the other way around, which is the main characteristic of Messika’s jewellery. Lucky Move is a “sexy collection” featuring an appealing contrast between the delicate medallions that act as lucky charms and the strong geometric design of the Move motif.

TIMELESS ELEGANCE AT MORAGLIONE

Fashion and taste influence the design of the Moraglione collections, but the jewels they contain must supersede trends to retain timeless elegance. Fabio Amelotti, partner and designer of Moraglione 1922, sees the jewel as a masterpiece. “Its beauty and harmony should raise admiration and the desire to possess and wear it, not only as a simple accessory to complement an outfit, but to accentuate the femininity of the woman,” he said in a press statement.

Moraglione’s new Cleopatra collection features simple and elegant designs that make the line both unique and prestigious. The glamorous Malachite collection is also new. “The green stone is very fashionable now. Long sautoirs, bracelets, earrings, and rings complete the line and are paired with diamonds,” Amelotti said.

Meanwhile, Bulgari continues to break rules and subvert the established order, innovating through creativity and imagination inspired by 2,700 years of Roman arts and architecture. B.zero1 is a celebration of the Roman jewellery house’s indomitable and pioneering spirit as well as ground-breaking creativity. The collection is inspired by the heritage Bulgari Tubogas choker with ’80s-style studs. The original B.zero1 features sinuous, spiral lines inspired by the shape of Rome’s Colosseum.

The B.zero1 Rock look is even more dramatic. This collection is for women and men who are independent, strong, and audacious. The house has pitched its new generation of precious unisex jewellery at “unapologetic rockers, independent thinkers, exuberant hedonists…”Bulgari has edged yellow gold with diamonds and injected black ceramic in the two edges of the rose-gold version, engraved with the Bulgari double logo.

After the year we’ve had, who could blame you for feeling more than a little rebellious? The jewellery trends are quite broad, in fashion terms, so anything goes. Really, it’s about what you like and what makes you feel good. If you enjoy the powerful combination of empowerment, rebellion, beauty, and splendour, B.zero1 Rock is for you. Distinctively unapologetic.

MESSIKA: MOVED BY STRONG WOMEN

Valérie Messika based Lucky Move, her new collection, on three contemporary icons that break the codes of Parisian jewellery. “I wanted a trio of girls, a gang that would represent women in their diversity, each of whom, whatever their age, would embody a type of beauty,” Messika said in a press statement. “Kate Moss has always been my muse; she is a legend of fashion and a rock’n’roll icon. Kate is, above all, a free woman. As for Dutch actress Sylvia Hoeks, she seduced me with her personality and her character. Finally, I chose Joan Smalls for her spectacular physique. She gives off a very contemporary glamour.”

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