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The Thought Leader Series | Jewellery: From status buys to pieces that reflect individuality, luxury jewellery is going through a paradigm shift

Jewellery that is multi-functional, redolent of a wearer’s personality and maybe even affordable, sold through digital and omnichannels, has come to define the luxury segment.

May 22, 2021 / 02:02 PM IST
'Ray of Light', from the Rooted collection by Zoya - A TATA Product. Titan's Ajoy Chawla says the Rooted collection was inspired by the many colours of nature.

'Ray of Light', from the Rooted collection by Zoya - A TATA Product. Titan's Ajoy Chawla says the Rooted collection was inspired by the many colours of nature.

Ajoy Chawla, CEO – Jewellery Division, Titan Company Ltd

The luxury jewellery business is evolving beyond just the status game: Generally, when it comes to the luxury end of the jewellery business, price points come into play. Some jewellery pieces even cost up to Rs 1 crore and there is a lot of value sitting on diamonds. However, the luxury jewellery consumer has begun looking beyond status buys. There are always people who want to show off big chunky pieces, but several consumers are looking at jewellery as an expression of their identity. We are increasingly catering to that segment.

Luxury continues to be about exclusivity which, for long, has been interpreted as products that are only within the reach of a few people. As a TATA brand, we aren’t looking at excluding or judging people. Our focus is on products and experiences that are rare and memorable. In subtle ways, people are craving products that tell a compelling story. The pandemic has brought alive the fact that there are merits to thoughtful consumption.

Digital and omnichannel retail: The lockdowns and disruptions have led us to explore the digital and remote shopping space. It is our engine of growth and has contributed 9% of our topline. Besides digital, we are exploring Omni channels (once the customer connects online, she or he is connected to a store), and live chats. There is a seamless blend between physical and digital life, and that is the future of retail. Our strong safety protocols, which we rolled out not just at our stores and establishments but also for our franchisee vendor partners, have given us a competitive edge.

Curated experiences will help create customer-connect: Earlier at our luxury brand Zoya if a customer came in to buy jewellery for, say, an anniversary, we curated an entire experience which included a meal experience at one of the Taj Hotels. During the pandemic, we curated a Taj meal for customers at home, a little celebration with friends and family.

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The indigenous craft will see a revival: Jewellery brands will combine indigenous craft and nostalgia, leading to a trend of reimagining our cultural heritage, as people gravitate towards local crafts. We have tried to meaningfully reimagine heirloom pieces with Tanishq’s Rivaah collection. It is up to designers and brands to interpret some of this rich cultural heritage and make it more relevant to the younger generation.

Globally, luxury consumers questioning the source of the raw material: Being mindful of the planet is going to be important as climate change reshapes our life. In the luxury segment, it will change the way we connect with our customers and the way they shop with us. People will want to know how harmful a product is to the environment. While in India sustainable mining and responsible sourcing is not yet a trend, global trends will influence us at some point. At Titan brands, the gold we source is entirely certified by the London Bullion Marketing Association, which certifies the quality of gold and the mines it is sourced from.

Every disruption accelerates the process of organizing the industry: Demonetisation, GST, the pandemic, are all leading to a far more organised sector. This doesn’t mean you have to be a national brand or a big retailer. It means there is a need for far more transparency and authenticity. Unfortunately, smaller players are likely to get more impacted.

Vandana Jagwani, founder, Vandals, and creative director, Mahesh Notandass

Storytelling over price tag: The realm of luxury has comprised objects that are unobtainable or inaccessible for almost everyone. However, that is changing. Luxurious objects will need to have the ability to project a narrative, and each element should reflect the thought behind it.

Affordable and sustainable luxury will see a steady rise: Of course, they need to be backed by impeccable design and engineering. The jewellery industry will be reimagined with cultured jewels. The creators will have to innovate and birth the new technology needed for it. The art of creating evolves in tandem with the technology that is needed for creating.

Lab-grown diamonds gain traction: There have been various global socio-political and economic factors that have played into changing the perception of people about lab-grown diamonds. Consumer behaviour in the recent past can be owed to various financial crises, ranging from demonetisation to the pandemic. And it is safe to say that buying jewellery has not exactly been a priority. The influx of lab-grown diamonds in the market is steadily increasing people’s willingness to invest in jewellery again.

Antony Lindsay, MD, Faberge 

Luxury will continue to represent exceptional standards of quality and customer service. The pandemic hasn’t changed that idea of luxury.

The shift away from diamonds: We are seeing a big consumer shift away from diamonds and towards coloured gemstones. I think this is driven by greater demand for colour and individuality.

Antony Lindsay. Antony Lindsay.

Customisation will play a big role: We offer our clients a 360 degree customised experience, whether that be by the way of working with them to create a truly bespoke item of jewellery that can go on to become a family heirloom, passed down from generation to generation (a longstanding tradition of Fabergé), or assisting with theatre tickets or hand-delivering a Fabergé creation to a remote island, whilst our client is on vacation.

Digitalisation is the big game-changer: The pandemic has accelerated the shift towards digitalisation by around five years. Without question, consumers are spending more time online as a result of travel restrictions and lockdown measures across the globe. Jewellery is more trend-driven than ever, and social media platforms have been pivotal to this shift.

The desire to celebrate will lead to a strong rally: Going forward, and post the pandemic, I believe we’re going to witness a much needed “feel-good factor” (for every action there’s a reaction) and desire to celebrate life. This will invariably result in retail therapy and unapologetic indulgence, whether that means you are treating yourself, a friend or a loved one. I think the notion to seize the moment, feel good, look good, enjoy life to the full and see it for what it is (a special gift) will shape what’s to come.

 

Harakh Mehta, founder, Harakh Fine Jewellery

Online transactions have shattered price ceilings: As per Bain & Company, online purchasing is set to become the leading channel for luxury jewellery purchases by 2025. But we do believe that once things settle over the next two years, the focus will be on an omnichannel experience, whether it is leveraging online resources for researching and transacting offline or vice-versa.

Harakh Mehta. Harakh Mehta.

Transparency will become key to survival: Luxury brands who prided themselves on keeping a stiff upper lip under the guise of ‘mystery’, are now tripping over themselves to offer more information about their products. The millennial consumer is obsessed with understanding the entire journey of their luxury purchase. They would want to know which mines the diamonds have come from, where it was cut and polished, what were the processes used in designing and making them, and whether they fall within their values.

Jewellery retail will become highly versatile: The emphasis will be on data collection and processing it to provide a seamless experience that a customer can truly relate to. Jewellery retail will become highly versatile, moving across different disciplines and involving multiple collaborations.

Long-term value is equally important: Consumers are looking at long-term value and not just in-the-moment experiences. There is a greater sense of responsibility to forge meaningful connections and nurture relationships at all levels. This extends to the way they purchase jewellery as well. It is more about preserving and building family wealth, rather than fast fashion to “impress” society.

The attributes of luxury: Luxury has always meant deriving comfort, pleasure and contentment in high measure from an experience or a product. It could mean the usage of the finest materials and a passion for impeccable quality. However, the events of the past 15 months have re-defined most people’s priorities. The definition of luxury is now more synonymous with compassion. Sustainable, recycled…all of these attributes are part of the Indian jewellery experience. Whether it is mothers gifting their daughters what was given to them by their elders, or family heirloom being re-designed to keep up with the times. But I am a little biased. Growing up in a traditional Jain Palanpuri community, sustainability and spirituality are engrained in my very DNA.

Sasha Garewal, co-founder, Outhouse

Luxury as a functional idea: The luxury consumer is moving rapidly towards buying more consciously. People are investing in products that have multiple uses, such as multifunctional clothes and jewellery that can be repurposed in more than a few ways. People are looking to buy jewellery that can be versatile as well as of good quality, which pushes brands and inevitably the whole industry to create consciously and to be self-sustaining.

Sasha Grewal, luxury jewellery Sasha Grewal co-founded Outhouse with her sister in 2012.

Local crafts are gaining patrons: Luxury consumers are supporting local businesses and brands. As this has been a time of curious inner-reflection, more people are looking to give back to the community in different ways and are consuming consciously.
Deepali Nandwani is a journalist who keeps a close watch on the world of luxury.

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