The spirit of partnership has always had a part to play in the jewellery industry, especially between designers, goldsmiths, gem-setters, polishers and the whole manufacturing stream. But today, a new breed of collaborations between brands, manufacturers and celebrities has created an interesting balance, leading to greater ‘future-proofing’ potential for the jewellery industry.
Of course, collaborations between big names and big brands in the jewellery sector have been done before. But, what makes this latest breed different is the way in which famous faces are expected to do more, say more, and act more than just a brand ambassador plastered on billboards. Think Lady Gaga and Tiffany & Co., and more recently Rihanna and Chopard as two interesting fine jewellery examples.
The rise of digital means that it takes more than just a signature on the bottom of a magazine advert to convince customers that a ‘genuine’ collaboration is being presented. This authentic partnership is what millennials are looking for, not just the obvious transaction of millions of dollars from brand to celebrity.
For this reason, brands have to think even harder about whom they bring on board — ensuring that an embarrassing spate of media attention won’t dampen their own identity. Plus, for a collaboration to be truly authentic, it must be seen to be long-lasting — a single season link-up is hardly likely to showcase genuine commitment to mutual goals or causes.
The fashion industry has known this for some years; think Kate Moss, and later Beyonce, for Topshop, Gigi Hadid for Tommy Hilfiger, David Beckham for H&M and many more. Jewellery has a weaker track record, but not invisible. Paloma Picasso for Tiffany & Co. is an example of the jewellery industry getting it right.
Today, more evidence of these genuine collaborations is making it to the trade media, both in the UK and internationally. Think jeweller Stephen Webster and British artist Tracey Emin; fashion jewellery brand Daisy London and TV personality Laura Whitmore; Welsh gold brand Clogau and wedding dress designer David Emmanuel; jewellery designer Delfina Delettrez and fashion house Fendi; and global brand Swarovski leading the charge with supermodel Karlie Kloss. What these collaborations have in common is that they are well-thought-out, long-lasting, consistent across all channels and have a logical connection in terms of style and tone.
The hope for jewellery brands is that a collaboration results in a rush to the tills, and a long-lasting air of collectability that sees pieces appear at auction for twice their value in 20 years’ time. Most will be hoping for a repeat of round-the-block queues caused by high street clothing retailer H&M and its collaborations with Balmain, Kenzo and Maison Martin Margiela. At the very least, jewellery brands should be hoping for a consistency of sales like Marks & Spencer’s lingerie partnership with supermodel Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.
Signs hint to the fact that the jewellery and watch industries are finally beginning to see the power of mutually beneficial, long-term partnerships. Take for example high fashion house Roberto Cavalli and watch-maker extraordinaire Franck Muller, who have collaborated on a complete range of watches. The brand’s UK distributor, Bezel Watches, has already received great feedback, especially as the collection blends the dual-specialisms of both houses. The brand will be exhibiting at IJL 2017 later this year, proving it is ready to make its mark both in the UK and Europe and internationally.
As contemporary collaborations are tied up with digital prowess, brand identity and marketing, the jewellery industry will need to continue to bolster these areas before it sets the standards for partnerships. Until that point, it will always fall behind its sister industries.