The world today is more celebrity obsessed than ever, television companies constantly trying to come up with the next winning TV format in terms of competitive talent shows. Whether it features singing, dancing, celebrity chefs feted like film stars; with every country having its own version of Masterchef or Strictly Come Dancing.
In Britain last week 12 .4 million viewers (more than the cup final!) watched Nadiya Hussein the most recent finalist of the BBC’s Great British Bake-Off contest become an instant national celebrity .
These shows are so very popular with viewers because they have real credibility and the competitors have to demonstrate their skill, creativity and commitment to an expert panel of judges so the outcome is determined as much by the competitors’ determination as their skills, so the human interest and drama is both genuine and sustained throughout a series. Then of course there are a handful of truly global award shows such as the Oscars and the MTV annual events, that showcase the movie and popular music industry and whose celebrity glamour creates huge excitement with glitter provided by leading jewellery brands and designers.
Jennifer Lopez at the Golden Globe Awards — even gorgeous jewellery today plays second fiddle as accessories
Enough already I can hear you say. What’s this got to do with our industry? Plenty I believe! Yes, we do have our celebrity jewellers such as Reena, Lakshand Anil who have recently spoken up eloquently in these columns for the industry to focus much more on design to connect with the aspirational needs of the millenials. But much more needs to be done.
Leading “rock and roll” designer brands such as Stephen Webster or Shaun Leane, in their early years, all won accolades and recognition from design awards which helped them on their way.
Jewellery is like fashion — it knows no borders and its appeal to the consumer is transcendent. The problem with existing jewellery design competitions is that they are either too local or too trade orientated, and while all the world loves jewellery, it is a segment that hardly ever features in mainstream media and the jewellery shopping channels appeal to a very small and conservative segment. So there is a big and growing space between the high-end brands, the mass merchandise discounted mall offerings and the high streets ubiquitous “bauble and bead” brands.
The millenials need to be reminded that there are endless design possibilities available to express their individuality and an international design competition would both remind them of that as well as launch new jewellery talent on the world’s stage.
Diamond International Awards winners — necklace by Lindsay Wolf and necklace by Lindsay Wolf.
At the annual British fashion awards, jewellery does not have its own category but is instead lumped in the accessory designer category which also includes shoes, handbags and sunglasses. Surely that can’t be right, when there are so many British jewellery brands out there who could be nominated for their own separate category.
We are all agreed that the industry badly needs generic diamond advertising in order to reconnect with the consumer and revive the diamond dream. Ben Janowski rightly points out that De Beers success was driven by its dominant stakeholder position at the time. The same applies to its prestigious Diamond International Awards, which genuinely pushed the boundaries of jewellery design and innovation in its day.
However, De Beers proved it can be done and done exceptionally well and there’s no reason that it can’t be done again if the industry trade bodies and mining companies can get their act together and reignite people’s imagination while reassuring them about the ethical implications when purchasing natural diamonds. Jewellery is all about art, design, story skill and romance, it relates to our deepest primal needs to find the talismans and symbols in our lives that represent and reflect our own personal rites of passage and the consumer needs to be constantly reminded of that.