Before 2020, buying jewelry was an in-person experience: customers walked to the physical jewelry counter, picked up different pieces, and got personally fitted for an item.
During this time, 49% of jewelers with a website didn’t offer ecommerce transactions. But when the pandemic hit, and physical stores shuttered their doors, ecommerce jewelry sales got an instant shot in the arm—moving the ecommerce sales needle from $9 billion in 2019 to over $12 billion in 2020.
According to luxury design firm Matter of Form’s research, this massive boost in ecommerce sales over the past 3 years is only part of what’s changing the landscape of jewelry commerce. The customer base is shifting, too. Gen Z consumers are entering the jewelry market in hoards, quadrupling their sales in 2021 alone. It’s projected that Gen Z consumers will usurp millennials as the top group of jewelry buyers within the next decade.
In this post, we’ll explore how luxury jewelry brands navigate these new trends—the growth in ecommerce and a shifting consumer base and what learnings you can take into 2024.
A Changing Customer Base—and Changing Design Preferences
Gen Z customers spend 3 times more on luxury purchases than other generations. Coupled with their unconventional taste in jewelry designs, this money is turning Gen Z customers into “agents of chaos,” writes Matter of Form. Gen Z looks for designs with “embellishment to the point of impracticality.” Gen Z is searching for jewelry like hardware—heavy chains and bold cuffs, making jewelry brands scramble to keep up with Gen Z’s more avant-garde tastes. Brands like Bea Bongiasca have found success in catering to those tastes with jewelry characterized by funky shapes, oversaturated colors, and what Matter of Form calls “psychedelic” designs.
Additionally, according to Business of Fashion, hard luxury goods, such as jewelry and watches, are emerging as key categories. More players entering the market and consumers seeking to invest in pieces that will maintain or increase in value over time are contributing to the evolving dynamics of the jewelry industry.
Brands that adapt to Gen Z’s expansive preferences will likely see more sales success in the years ahead. Says Matter of Form: in the age of Gen Z, “[design] boredom is the number one killer of brands.”
Integration of Sustainable Practices
Gen Z customers aren’t self-indulgent—they’re philanthropic with their purchases. They care about climate change, ethical gem sourcing, the social impact of their purchases, and being conscientious about luxury spending, according to Matter of Form. They care about sustainability too. In fact, 78% of all consumers (not just Gen Z) care about sustainability.
And luxury brands that are succeeding now are innovating their product designs to keep up with Gen Z’s preferences.
For example, Boucheron recently created a capsule collection made from Cofalit, a material made from “depolluted asbestos.” And the brand Aether is creating lab-grown diamonds derived from 100% atmospheric carbon.
Traveling Showrooms: The New Way to Sell In-Person
Gen Z doesn’t mind a completely digital jewelry shopping experience. According to Vogue Business, this preference for online shopping even applies to a traditionally offline market: jewelry resale. Since the pandemic, we’ve seen several online jewelry resale platforms emerge. Today, nearly 17% of global jewelry purchases are made online. In 2021, that number was only 8%.
Business of Fashion also reports that brands are taking their offerings on the road via “traveling showrooms.” Jewelry brand Sophie Bille Brahe already earns over half of its business from in-person purchases. Their strategy combines in-person selling with digital data: they’ll take their collection to cities like Los Angeles, reach out to customers who have shopped on their website before, and invite them to meet the brand team.
“I don’t think we would have … seen the same growth if we were on a shop floor,” the Business of Fashion quotes brand founder Sophie Bille Brahe. Their digital showcase of resale jewelry, however, functions in the same way—showing off resold jewelry in the digital realm.
There’s good news, too. It’s easy for brands to jump on the online jewelry-selling bandwagon. NuORDER offers users online showrooms where you can build a virtual shopping front that fits the needs of modern buyers.
Capitalizing on the 2023 Jewelry Market Trends
Gen Z customers will have an outsized impact on luxury jewelry purchases in 2023 and beyond. To learn more about how NuORDER can help you streamline online shopping experiences and support the interests of Gen Z buyers, check out our Kendra Scott success story.