relevant to the jewelry industry in the coming year. This list was compiled with
the help of Cindy Edelstein of the Jeweler’s Resource Bureau, Beth Ann Bonanno
of The EAB Project and Marc Knobloch, vice president of diamond company Aron
Read on for major topics of 2014.
1. Lab-grown diamonds. It was the hot topic in 2012 that
carried over into 2013, and it will continue to be an issue in 2014 and beyond.
Will the younger generation of consumers--those now in their teens and
20s--accept lab-grown diamonds for their engagement rings?
What about the undisclosed mixing of lab-grown diamonds with mined diamonds?
The industry certainly understands that it’s an issue. Major players, including
De Beers and the Gemological Institute of America, all had something to say
about undisclosed mixing in 2013, and 2014 is starting off with a similar focus.
On Wednesday, the Diamond Manufacturers and Importers Association of America,
Jewelers of America, the Indian Diamond and Colorstone Association and the New
York Diamond Dealers Club are hosting an invitation-only seminar on undisclosed
mixing in New York.
2. Inconsistent grading reports. Over the course of the
year, a number of jewelers expressed ongoing frustration with over-graded
diamonds: stones coming back from certain laboratories that are a number of
grades off in terms of color and clarity. For example, a G color, SI1 stone
would get a grading report calling it an E color, VS1.
“It’s been a problem since diamonds went up in price,” one retailer
said. “It’s frustrating being a businessperson and seeing this storm
coming. I just know this is going to be a storm.”
The storm didn’t rain down in a big way in 2013 but there was a little rumble
of thunder near the end of the year: ABC 7 in Denver aired a
“buyer beware” story about the “unregulated” world of grading labs in November,
right before Black Friday. Another ABC affiliate, 10 News in San Diego,
picked up the story and aired its own, but very similar, version in
More stories about over-graded diamonds are likely to surface in 2014.
3. Social and mobile
sales. For everybody that thinks, hopes or wishes social media would
just go away, 2014 is going to be the bearer of disappointing news: it’s not.
Technology, specifically smartphones, tablet computers and wireless Internet
service, have transformed the way people communicate and share
Social marketing--and social selling--will continue to be important for
jewelers. They’ll need to devote more time and creativity to social media in the
Edelstein points to Instagram and Pinterest as two social media platforms on
which retailers need to become more proficient. “I have heard tales of sales
being caused by Instagram and Pinterest and I think it’s just the tip of the
iceberg,” she says. “Retail jewelers will have to figure out how to incorporate
Instagram into their marketing plans despite the (tiny) hurdle of it being a
phone app, which seems to be an obstacle for some.”
In addition, m-commerce, or mobile sales (sales made via a smartphone or
tablet computer) will continue to grow in importance. Even if they do not sell
online, retailers need to make their products clearly visible on mobile devices.
4. The smartwatch. So far smartwatches, which began to
emerge in earnest in 2013, have not made a huge splash. But there’s one
technology player who’s biding their time on the bench before they jump into the
game: Apple, maker of such market-altering gadgets as the iPod and iPad.
As columnist Jan Brassem observed in his Dec. 2
article, Apple has never been the first to enter a new market.
The company allows others to go before them and then learn from their success
and failures before launching what, ultimately, ends up being the most popular
product in the space.
Indications are that Apple may be getting off the bench and into the
smartwatch game in 2014. On Christmas Eve, the New York Post ran a
story quoting the tech giant’s CEO, Tim Cook, as saying he has “big plans” for the
coming year that consumers are going to love.
5. Gold. The price of gold is abiding by the law of gravity:
it went up and now it’s coming down. After soaring to nearly $1,900 an ounce in
recent years, the price of gold has dropped, and analysts say they expect it to
continue to fall in 2014. According to Kitco.com, the per-ounce
price of gold was $1,225 as of Jan. 2. One report quoting a prediction from
Goldman Sachs has gold coming down as far as $1,057 an ounce in
the coming year, a level not reached since 2010.
Lower gold prices could be good for retailers and designers who want to make
new purchases. These pieces can be priced at levels that are accessible to more
consumers, who are showing an affinity for rose gold as well as yellow gold,
which is coming back into style. Yet a per-ounce price of $1,200 or even $1,050
is still significantly higher than $600 or $800 an ounce, meaning the metal may
remain out of reach for a middle class continuing its post-recession
And what about designers, retailers or manufacturers who are stuck with gold
purchased when the price was much higher? As Bonanno points out, “Many of my
clients are artists whose work is gold intensive and they have quite an
inventory. With gold under $1,200 they will have to significantly lower their
prices and much of that gold was purchased at seriously higher price point