“The trend in Fall jewelry is of the go big or go home variety,” states Vogue in its spring 2018 issue. From high-end to fast fashion, many brands are producing massive pieces of jewelry–including statement earrings–to target a new audience of customers.
It’s a trend borne in part out of selfie culture, vlogging, and the focus on the face that happens when social media is a key medium of interaction.
Millennial audiences seem to respond enthusiastically to the statement earring trend. It’s a way to look unique that pairs well with their otherwise dress-down style. It’s also a way to jazz up the most visible part of the body when a lot of social interactions happen neck-up, via video messaging and selfies.
As well, this is part of a wider trend towards jewelry–once a fairly timeless accessory–becoming much more influenced by fashion trends. Earring trends have moved very quickly from catwalk to pavement via the red carpet and celebrity champions of the trend.
This has led to an explosion of demand for higher-impact earrings in fast-changing styles. There’s a lot of opportunity for designers who recognize these emerging trends and can meet the demand.
New earring trends
There are other trends in the earring market besides going big. Designers have been working to bring trends such as single earrings and high-end body jewelry into the mainstream.
UK-based designer Maria Tash has popularized the concept of using the ear as a tapestry for jewellery, making multiple ear piercings a luxe proposition. Her concession in London’s high-end department store Liberty is doing a roaring trade, not only in body piercing but also supplying jewelry for all parts of the body.
Earrings are generally a dominant jewelry category. Delfina Delettrez attributes 40% of the fine jewellery sales in her Rome store to earrings, specializing in the single statement earring. Hers is a more lightweight style that’s still fashion-forward and high-impact. It’s all part of a trend towards making the earring a statement in and of itself, as opposed to simply complementing a look.
Macy’s is now carrying the mismatched earring trend, and it’s being picked up by mainstream brands such as Kate Spade and Marc Jacobs and popularized by figures such as Meghan Markle and Ashley Olsen.
The trend has gone mainstream, and social media culture is creating opportunities for emerging and unknown designers to reach a new audience. That’s why social media is so influential in the jewelry market: It’s not just influencing styles, but also promoting one category above all others.
Demi-fine on the rise
Earring trends such as oversized, mismatched pairs, as well as singles, are being deftly picked up by rising demi-fine brands–and doing well. Operating in the space between fine and costume jewelry, and using crystals and gold plating rather than precious stones and solid metals, these mid-priced brands are growing at a healthy rate of about 6% annually.
The trend is thriving on sites such as Net-a-Porter, where demi-fine items tend to be bought by women for themselves.
In the U.S., demi-fine brands include WWAKE and Loren Stewart, where prices tend to hover around the low hundreds. These pieces are for semi-regular wearing as opposed to special occasions–making them aspirational but not unobtainable.
The demi-fine market is defined by some important trends, including the ability to mix and match items to create unique and personalized looks. There’s also room for themes such as sustainability and unusual materials.
It’s common for the demi-fine buyer journey to start via social media sites such as Instagram. Demi-fine pieces can be strikingly unique–excellent for celebrating with a selfie. It’s a self-sustaining trend in the sense that it both starts and ends on social media.
Online, the impact of this passion for earrings in any format has been considerable. The category has become so big that many retailers are dividing it into specific sub-categories. Consumers are increasingly knowledgeable about different types of earring styles, so it’s easier to cater to buyers via named styles such as clusters, ear jackets, and climbers.
The jewelry category is blissfully free from the sky-high return rates that affect online apparel sales. Far less jewelry is returned compared to other categories of wearables, partly because the sizing and fit aren’t so hard to get right and because it’s often purchased as a gift. That’s something which offers real relief for retailers trying to make a profit online.
Some jewelry industry sources claim bracelet sales are in decline, due to a number of factors. Perhaps the most important is that we’re spending a lot more time on keyboards, which just isn’t compatible with wearing chunky bracelets.
Whether or not that’s true, bracelets are certainly losing out compared to earrings. Bracelets don’t fit into selfies, aren’t picked up as easily on the catwalk or in celebrity paparazzi shots, and don’t photograph as easily in magazines. As a result, earrings are stealing the show.