Comments: 0 0

Takeaways from JCK Las Vegas 2021 – Jewelry Industry Trends and Insights

In episode #141 of the Joy Joya Jewelry Marketing Podcast, I share my thoughts and reflections about JCK Las Vegas 2021, including industry trends and insights. If you didn’t get a chance to attend this year’s show, then you’ll definitely want to listen to the scoop. Even if you did attend, you’ll still want to listen to see if you agree with my takeaways – I’d love to hear about your experience as well! Check out the transcript below.

I’m your host Laryssa Wirstiuk. Through this podcast, I aim to empower and inspire jewelry entrepreneurs and innovators so they can thrive by doing what they love. I’m passionate about digital marketing for jewelry brands, and I’m excited to share my passion with you.

This is Episode 141 and today I’m going to share my thoughts and reflections about JCK Las Vegas 2021. As I’m recording this I just returned about two days ago. So you’ll be getting this episode about a week out from my return. I’m going to be talking about industry trends and insights. If you didn’t get a chance to attend this year’s show, then you’ll definitely want to listen to my scoop. And even if you did attend, you’ll still want to listen to see if you agree with my takeaways. I’d love to hear about your experiences as well.

But before we get to today’s episode, I want to share some marketing related news and insights from the past week that caught my attention. So first, according to an article from Ad Age, all about Signet Jewelers, which is the parent of mall based jewelry brands you may know like Kay and Zales. They were suffering sales declines a few years ago, mostly as younger shoppers were searching for trendy or boutique stores or direct to consumer online startup brands like Mejuri. Signet Jewelers is now under new leadership and their intent is to court younger shoppers and overhaul their marketing strategy.

That was definitely a theme during the talks that JCK: I feel like a lot of people were discussing ways to court younger shoppers, the Gen Z and younger, how can we bring them into jewelry? And especially for legacy brands that typically have older customers – how can they continue to court the younger generations? So recent changes that Signet made, they’re using data around customer preferences to put together product collections. And they switched up their marketing channels to eliminate unnecessary costs. So for example, they removed TV ads and they’re now relying more on digital channels and social media to better interact with their customers. Recently, they reported first quarter sales that exceeded analyst expectations their e commerce sales rose 110%. Over the last year, their brick and mortar same store sales were up 106% and their total sales increased 98% in the quarter to $1.7 billion compared with the first quarter of last year and 18% compared with the same period two years ago. Despite all of these changes, they are not abandoning the brand equity they’ve built up from their memorable tag memorable taglines, such as every kiss begins with Kay. But it does seem like they’re doing a good job attracting younger customers with these changes, especially by leveraging data.

Another article from Social Media Today was all about Instagram and how they’re trying to create more transparency with customers. They published the third edition of Instagram Insider digital magazine, which takes a look at some emerging trends in social media that are based on platform engagement. And they’re really trying to provide tips and insights to help guide businesses strategic approach on the platform. As explained by Instagram some of this year’s fall trends that you may want to pay attention to if you really want to be like on the forefront of what’s happening on Instagram definitely increased respect for nature and art, self identity and pageantry, the trend Instagram is calling. Come on get happy, embodies that added appreciation for all things simply joyful. And that’s being reflected in bright colors and bold patterns. And you’ll hear later in this episode, I’m only going to echo that bright colors are a key feature among the trend insights. So definitely the social media trends are in line with what we’re seeing in fashion and accessories as well.

And then finally, according to an article from Business Wire, all about buy now pay later or BNPL is super popular with consumers now with a number of platforms offering this services to businesses, including Afterpay, Affirm, and Klarna. Customers love the option to be able to break up their payments into installments. And now guess who’s hopping on board that train. Amazon is partnering with Affirm to deliver a pay over time option at checkout. I’m honestly surprised this didn’t happen sooner. Amazon and Affirm are testing with select customers now and in the future months Amazon plans to make Affirm more broadly available to its customers. I think this is only a sign that the future of payments is going to be in chunks more manageable. Especially I think this applies to jewelry, which typically is a higher price purchase, even at the sweet pots, sweet spot of self purchasing for about $500, which is kind of the right price for female self purchasers right now, I think that’s a really good amount to break up into attractive, maybe four payments or five payments, it makes it much easier to digest when you have that option to buy now pay later.

If you want to get the links to the articles I share in this segment of the podcast, you can sign up for my email newsletter by visiting, and you’ll get a digest with the links whenever a new episode drops. Okay, so let’s get into my reflections from JCK Las Vegas, you may actually even be discovering my podcast for the first time with this episode, maybe I met you at JCK. Or you heard me on a panel there. So welcome to the podcast. If you’re new, I would love to talk about my experience my observations, my reflections from the show some of these things I had already shared a little bit during three Instagram lives that I did while I was at the show, and you can still catch them on my Instagram feed. They are posted there if you want to go back and take your time and revisit those. But now I’m just consolidating all that information in one place and sharing it with you.

So first, I want to talk about some general buying trends that either I observed or heard about in talking to numerous retailers and vendors at the show. So first, this seemed like a super exciting time for the smaller retailers. It seemed to me like a lot of the corporate buyers just didn’t make it out this year due to COVID. So a lot of the buyers who were at the show, were coming from smaller, more independent retailers. And due to a lack of being able to buy in person over the past year-ish and a half, they were super excited to be out there and buying stocking up for their stores. Seeing all the new products, seeing all the trends, there’s definitely no shortage of product for them to buy for their stores. And in addition, because some of the more corporate buyers were not at the show, they had an opportunity to get more face time gave them opportunities to buy things maybe they normally wouldn’t have for their stores and or to get more information about product to build trust and relationships with these business partners. So super exciting opportunities for these smaller retailers. Definitely, I heard people came with set budgets for buying and a lot of them exceeded their budgets by a lot by buying way more than they had anticipated. And also people coming to the show with a dedicated purpose. So it seems like very efficient, they’re coming with certain goals. They kind of want to get in and out. I think that’s more just a COVID concern thing. People don’t want to be out at the show to compromise their health. Although it seemed very safe. They were very stringent about mass wearing etc. But I think people came with specific goals to achieve at the show.

So one of the panels that I attended was from JCK. It was from a study or a report that they had commissioned about industry trends and insights, post COVID to kind of see what is going on with the state of the industry now and what can we expect in the near future. So they commissioned this study and they surveyed a number of people in the industry retailers, and 82% of respondents had said that they are optimistic about the jewelry industry compared to just 60% of respondents being optimistic in 2020. A really key takeaway from the survey was that relationships will continue to be key in celebrating special moments. This was a humongous theme at the tradeshow something that I heard so many times that celebrating special moments through jewelry matters now more than ever, and so we saw a lot of meaningful jewelry styles including talismans hearts, a lot of options for layering and building kind of meaningful, personalized layers. options for personalization. I was all about the meaningful side of jewelry. Rather than just like the showy/fashion side of jewelry. Definitely some trends in buying in terms of product. Layering still continues to be a huge trend. It’s not going anywhere anytime soon. I mean, rings, ear parties, layered necklaces, even layered anklets definitely wrist party, wrist stack, whatever you want to call it. Layering is a huge trend. Chains were very popular. I saw some really unique chain styles. It’s not just about the standard chains, it’s about what unique kind of chain can we add to our necklace layers or even to a bracelet or anklet, different sizes of chain mixing different sizes of chain in layers, paper clip vintage influenced style chains with triangles and handmade details.

Another thing I just wanted to kind of add when it comes to layers is if you’re a retailer or even a direct to consumer designer or small brand who sells a lot of layered looks, you should really be showing how to style them for consumers. Ultimately your customer may choose to make her his or her own layered look and really personalize it. But I think customers really need a starting point. So showing styled photos of how to actually build that layered look or even just showing how to style it for the sake of showing scale and different lengths. So how is this all going to sit on a neck or wrist or on the ear really demonstrating that layered look for your customers.

Alternative engagement rings and unique wedding bands were really huge, especially for men. I honestly I know I just loved all the men’s jewelry I saw in general. I was super impressed by the variety of men’s styles. I was super excited by all the men’s styles I was seeing this one company called jewelry innovations they had these unique wedding bands with that were inlaid with barrels like whiskey barrels or barrels for wine aging. It was a very cool look. also exciting for me because I love yellow gold, yellow gold really seem to be the most popular metal at the show this year. Of course we’re always going to see white gold or platinum with diamonds because those things complement each other very well. But yellow gold is just bringing a lot of warmth to the designs that I saw this year. And another trend colored gemstones since they were so popular yellow gold just naturally complements so many colors and feels like a natural pairing for colored gemstone jewelry. There was definitely an equal opportunity at this show for natural and lab created diamonds. I saw both definitely more natural but that has been around for so much longer. And no shade on lab created it seemed like the two coexisted very nicely in the space of JCK. Of course the diamond tennis bracelet or necklace is a classic but it seemed to be super popular at the show this year. And definitely variations on those things. So turning them into anklets or I even saw a longer diamond tennis necklace that was just a combination of a bunch of smaller bracelets put together. Diamond tennis necklaces that could be wrapped as bracelets, a lot of really unique versatile styles. Also like half diamond tennis necklaces, so for customers looking for more affordable price points instead of doing a full all the way around diamond tennis doing part of it with like a paper clip chain for example and part of it with diamond tennis to give that look but also at a more affordable price point and even with a slightly more unique aesthetic.

The self purchase trend was definitely apparent at the show. Women today obviously feel more empowered than ever before to self purchase jewelry and it seems like a popular sweet spot price point for self purchasing is about $500 and under pearls. They’ve been a trend they still are a trend I saw a ton of pearl jewelry at the show and definitely not just your grandma strands. I saw a ton of really beautiful layering necklaces with tiny Krshi pearls and gold beads. I saw some edgy hoop earrings with Keshi pearls and some more edgy pearl styles, mostly in the earring category, I know a lot of turquoise mixed not only with pearls, but all kinds of gemstones. So that turquoise pearl combination seemed to be really popular. I also saw a lot of attention to detail when it came to clasps and closures. There was one brand in particular that had a really unique resin class, but that was definitely not just functional, it was part of the whole design, it kind of added to the entire look. And another trend that I love was versatility and interchangeability of jewelry. So this one brand Nina Nguyen based out of Colorado, they had these earrings and and necklaces and bracelets that can be added to because they have this patent pending device that allows you to kind of clip together different charms or elements. So say you start with like a little huggie hoop earring, and then you can add a dangle charm and then add another dangle charm to that. And you can build your dangle earring look as long as you want. They had a photo of one that was like a foot long, two as short as you want and then either have a matching side or a mismatch side or swap them out as much as you want. I really loved the idea of being able to kind of like change your look every day even with the same pieces of jewelry that you already own. That’s definitely a value proposition that is super attractive to a lot of customers.

Definitely another thing I want to talk about is color trends. So I saw a really good panel with fashion experts and stylist Christina Pacelli, Beth Jones, Jessica Richards, and Jen Cullen Williams, who you may know from a past podcast episode she was one of my guests. So they said that coming into spring 22 we’re going to see lots of bright color as I mentioned earlier in this episode which gets me excited because I love color. I think we need more of it in jewelry and fashion. And definitely an emphasis on pieces that celebrate life and meaning lots of big and bold statement jewelry. As I mentioned before turquoise, but not only on its own mixed with other colors. I saw a lot of turquoise mixed with blue sapphire. Pearls of course as I mentioned, so the combining of turquoise with other colors and a really hot trend that they all agreed upon was purple and emeralds together in yellow gold. I just love that combo in general but apparently it is super hot and trending right now. When it comes to some trends in fashion that are also translating to jewelry. Fringe is one of them as one of the ladies said on the panel fringe is in right now and we’re going to be shimmying and shaking into the holidays I saw a ton of fringe on earrings. Some of my favorite earrings that I saw at the show were super fringy and fun. So that movement and energy in jewelry is very hot right now. Another trend throwing a cocktail ring on every finger as to needs just one statement ring when you can have 10 statement rings or however many statement rings you want. But that big bold look especially with colorful gemstones. Really coming at it talk with your hands express yourself with all of that bold beautiful jewelry on your hand. Also the return of the brooch or the bridge brooch I don’t know how to say it but basically a fancy pin elaborate pins as jewelry wearing multiple pins. This is something we’re seeing on the runway and I hope that jewelry designers also embrace it as a category because it’s definitely overlooked especially in the US. I know in some other countries. broaches are super popular in jewelry stores, but not so much here what’s up with that you guys I invite you to design me some some cool brooches.

One important takeaway that I got from this particular fashion panel, especially for you independent designers out there or you retailers, you don’t necessarily have to be styling a celebrity or be like an official stylist to be a quote unquote stylist. You simply need to show your customers in whatever way makes sense to you or whatever way resonates with your customers how to style the jewelry, they want to know I think that jewelry brands really take it for granted that oh my customers will know what to do with this but a lot of people really want that guidance. So showing those layers showing that ear stack showing the type of clothing to wear with the jewelry showing how different colors can be combined and interchange, all of those things, you need to be the stylist. Another really great takeaway newness doesn’t necessarily mean that you always have to have new products or collections. The way that you can create newness for your brand is to make the story new. So you can have the same products all the time, or maybe not release new products super regularly. But if you’re telling a new story, if you are curating your collections in new ways, if you are showing how to style your pieces differently, that can be the newness that your customers crave. That can be the newness for your brand.

Also a focus on really slowing down with your story and focusing on being more authentic and organic with your storytelling, rather than just bombarding with customers. bombarding your customers with new messaging. And one trend I forgot to mention that I really liked was customize bridesmaids gifts, this is a new hot thing in wedding jewelry. So instead of getting, I don’t know what I have never been married before. So I honestly don’t know what typical bridesmaids gifts are. But a lot of fine jewelry brands that specialize in wedding jewelry, or even, maybe they don’t, but they have a category just have gifts that are great for bridesmaids parties that can be personalized that can be made meaningful for this special day. I saw a number of those at the show. And I think that that is going to become a trend especially in the next year or two as more people get married, since they weren’t able to during the year of COVID. Another thing I really want to talk about that I noticed at the show were retail innovations and retailing, especially when it comes to brick and mortar like how people are incorporating technology into the brick and mortar shopping experience and making it more omni channel connecting it to an e commerce site or through social media shopping like Instagram shopping or Facebook shopping.

So there was another panel that I saw with Jenna Harsanyi, who’s director of partnerships for Showfields and Rebecca Boyajian, who’s the fine jewelry manager at Fashionphile. And they talked about two terms that I hadn’t even really heard before maybe they actually invented them because they were new to me first c commerce which stands for consumer commerce instead of e commerce. So C commerce kind of takes e commerce to a new level by really thinking about how the consumer is interacting with products. What can that company do better to curate the experience for the customer, really making the customer first putting the focus on the customer experience, rather than whatever that business feels they want to kind of like push in front of the customer. And then Rebecca mentioned re commerce, which I think is very relevant right now. There’s a resurgence, especially in jewelry at the second hand market. And I had never heard of it referred to as re commerce before. Obviously, if you don’t get it referring to the Pre Owned luxury goods market, huge and jewelry, even if you don’t sell Pre Owned jewelry, I think it’s something that you really need to be aware of and in touch with moving forward. Because a lot of customers are feeling more and more comfortable buying Pre Owned luxury goods, even online without seeing them in person with just some really great product photo, video and descriptions about the items condition and its authenticity.

One thing I thought was really interesting. So Jenna from Showfields was a company I had not heard about before. But they are super innovative up and coming retailer that focuses on selling products from independent brands. And they have a few select brick and mortar locations, I believe in Miami and New York. And they also have an e commerce store. And they are really thinking ahead about how they can innovate. The in store brick and mortar experience, make it more convenient, interesting, comfortable, especially in COVID times. So they’ve really been thinking outside of the box. One thing they recently introduced was this like magic wand feature. So someone who goes into la New York or Miami store for example, if they want if they if they want to kind of shop independently, they get this actual wand, kind of like when you go into a museum When you do a self guided audio tour, you might have a little tool and headphones. So this one allows you to tap up information about a designer or product and get more information on your phone, about the product and even allows you to add things to your cart or to save it to a wish list. And you’re actually even able to check out using this one. So you don’t have to interact with a cashier if you don’t want to. So you can check out leave the store, it’s kind of like doing your e commerce shopping at home in your pajamas, except you can actually have the in store experience along with it. So I’m curious to see how things like this continue to innovate the brick and mortar experience moving forward.

And then lastly, I want to talk about a panel I saw with branding expert, Jeff Fromm. Hopefully I’m going to actually get him on this podcast, I had a chat with him and really enjoyed his talk. He’s a five time author. He’s the author of a branding book called The Purpose Advantage. And he commissioned a study all about brand purpose, brand value and sustainability, and how that really impacts how consumers can connect with you. And he asked a really interesting question that made me stop and think and say, huh, he said, can you sell jewelry in a world where the consumer distrusts you? And I thought, wow, that’s kind of intense. The word distrust even I mean, I don’t think most business owners assume that the world of consumers distrust them. Because if you’re a jewelry business owner, you’re probably hopefully thinking about how you can provide the best materials, the most honest materials, honest prices, you don’t think people are going to distrust you. But the truth of the matter is that we kind of live in a world that in some ways, is built on some skepticism and distrust.

I mean, a lot of people distrust the media and news. And there’s a lot of like, unverified news being shared on social media or opinion, a lot of sensationalized things being shared. So you can just imagine, even when a consumer interacts with a brand, they’re kind of going into it with, I think, a healthy dose of skepticism. I think consumers today are very smart. And I think it’s amazing that people try to do their research and due diligence before they shop. But as a business owner, you kind of have to realize that that is the barrier to entry that you are going up against. So you have to work even harder as a brand to build trust, and not take for granted that Oh, consumer will immediately trust me or like why wouldn’t they buy from me like I have pretty things? Well, there are many more nuanced layers beyond that. So I thought that was a really interesting question. And he talked about some ways that brands can kind of overcome that. By really taking action steps to embody your brand values and show consumers they can trust you through action, which is even harder to do in a digital world where, where all interaction and communication is done digitally. It’s all about educating your customers, being transparent. Maybe partnering with nonprofit organizations that embody your values or advocacy groups that you feel are aligned with your brand values.

And you’ll also want to keep in mind that while some jewelry shoppers are mission driven, like say, for example, someone who’s shopping for a wedding band, they have a very specific product in mind. So they are going through their shopping journey with a goal at the end. And some people know more about what they want, then others when it comes to the specifics, but they know the product they want ultimately, while other shoppers, let’s say the millennial female self purchaser, like me at the show looking for my next jewelry purchase is looking to be inspired. Whether that’s by seeing something beautiful, or hearing a story or learning about the creator or learning about the gemstones or the materials that are being used in the jewelry, he or she kind of has in mind vaguely that they want to treat themselves to something nice or special, but they’re not quite sure what that’s going to be and they’re waiting for that inspiration to really hit them. So kind of understanding that these two customers exist. Tapping into the question which customers are mine? Are they more mission driven? Are they more inspiration driven or a mix of both, and then figuring out based on that how you can communicate best to cater, because the communications will obviously change based on whether you have one customer or the other. And then of course, a big topic at the show sustainability and communicating sustainability to customers. According to Jeff from study, 95% of consumers today still think sustainability matters in their purchase decisions. So again, if this applies to your brand, not only telling customers in words about your sustainable efforts, but showing in action and being as transparent as possible. That’s all I have for today.

I had a really amazing time at JCK, if I met you there, I was so happy to connect with you in person. If I didn’t, maybe next year. please reach out to me if you have any questions or comments, I always love hearing from my listeners, you can email me Laryssa that’s

Transcribed by