Big brands vs. independent designers

Amanda Cox's Lily collection

Independent jewellers are often known for their small designer collections and products you wouldn’t really be able to purchase from bigger jewellers. That’s what makes them special.

Over the last couple of years everything has gone mass market to meet the demands of the consumer and the type of jewellery they want to purchase. As we’ve mentioned previously, the charm craze and rise of Pandora has played a huge part due to a number of reasons. The advertising spend from bigger brands enhances the popularity and gives customers a sense of confidence when purchasing that jewellery product. It is harder than ever for individual designers to compete.

Customers often move with the trends which can put individual designers at risk. Some designers don’t work to the current trends and can often fall behind as customers move towards the bigger brands. It can be seen as safer for independent jewellers to invest in big brands, having more confidence in their success; whereas in the past, individual designers were seen as more successful offering a wider choice to the consumer.

Jeremy Heber

Including collections from smaller designers brings something different to the market but also demonstrates our continual support to jewellers who are trying to compete against the likes of Pandora and Links of London. We have a gorgeous and completely individual collection from Amanda Cox, called ‘Lily’. Her contemporary use of pearls appeals to all ages and her collection pushes the creative boundaries in jewellery design. We also stock ranges from Julie Pratt and Jeremy Heber, who both use gold and silver together in their work, rather than separating the two materials. Many people like to wear a mixture of gold and silver and these collections offer an ideal way to wear them together in a stylish and fashionable way.

Julie Pratt

At Argent, we stock a mix of big brands and small designers, so we are able to keep on trend for some of our customers, but also have the individual choice for other customers. Stocking only big brands would exclude the opportunity for difference and variety for our customers, with the risk of becoming uniform with the mainstream jewellers.

Argent strives to support small designers and we believe in the individuality and timelessness of their designs. We have a great relationship with the designers and they are a pleasure to work with, maintaining a very personal approach to business. We aim to offer our customers variety and the type of jewellery associated with an independent jeweller. Customers can be assured that when they come to us, they will find something different and not something they could purchase in every other jewellery shop.

The ever-changing habits of a jewellery customer

As a small independent jeweller, we really get to know our customers and we are known for being able to recognise faces and names of people who visit the shop.

There is one thing in particular we notice from our customers, and that’s the habits and tastes of what they like. We pride ourselves on the range of jewellery collections and designers we stock, as we hope to offer something that will appeal to everyone.

Changing trends
We’ve noticed a definite change in the habits of jewellery customers, who are moving to the more well-known and recognised branded pieces. As I mentioned in my last post, the Shamballa trend is becoming increasingly popular, as well as the significant move into charm ranges such as Lovelinks, Trollbeads and Thomas Sabo. The attraction of these sorts of pieces is that they provide easy and affordable gifts for family and friends to buy for their loved ones. It’s a great idea to get a charm bracelet for someone as a gift as not only can they add to it themselves to create an individual piece, but it means there is a gift for every occasion.

To stay ahead of this trend we’ve bought in the Italian charm bracelet by the Italian brand, Nomination, where you can put together an individual and personal charm bracelet in a completely new and innovative way to those which are so popular now. Argent is the only stockist in Leeds to hold Nomination bracelets.

Shaun Leanne’s collection has also become far more popular since appearing in fashion magazines, on the catwalk and being worn by a range of current celebrities.

The changing consumer
When the shop first started out as a stall at the Granary Wharf, it was more craft orientated and tourist based. Weekends were incredibly busy as the market would offer new themes and events to keep people coming. It was described as the Camden of Leeds.

When the shop made a move to the city centre there was a shift to more ‘designer’ ranges as well as giftware. More branded ranges were introduced and then we took on the bead and charm trends to keep up with the trend and to extend our customer base.

Because we’ve been here for so long (24 years) we’ve noticed that in times of recession the public seem to be drawn to glitz and glamour, which helps to create a feel good factor during a more bleak time. In times like these it’s ranges such as those with Swarovski crystals that appear to sell well. However in more affluent times, people appear to downplay their jewellery with matt finishes and pieces which are more demure. I can see charm bracelets and the layering of jewellery – especially on the arms and around the neck – being here to stay for a while as popular looks among customers.
I find that customers are very brand away and are more driven by reality TV shows and celebrities when it comes to choosing jewellery now, as celebrities often help them to feel more confident and assured when it comes to picking jewellery.

Price point
There’s been a definite reduction in what customers will spend now. We have always been renowned as a silver shop first and foremost but we do sell a lot of platinum/ 18ct gold jewellery. There has been a noticeable correlation between the amount of money spent on pieces going down and the prices of metal continuing to go up. Jewellery has made a move to the forefront of fashion which has been helped massively by the celebrity culture.

What’s next?
As the price of metal is constantly on the rise I see silver as very much becoming the new gold. The new Rebecca range (which we now have in the shop) makes the silver statement piece more affordable in the designing of silver plated bronze jewellery. The Branch range which we already have in store has also made a change of this sort, using plated base metal as opposed to sterling silver to make their jewellery more affordable.

In the not too distant future I can see many designers looking for alternatives to keep the prices of their jewellery more accessible and affordable to a greater number of customers.

Welcome! Take a peek at Argent’s newest jewellery collections

Welcome to Argent’s new blog! Here, we’ll be bringing you news from Argent as well as a range of posts exploring the latest trends and updates on all things jewellery related.

Firstly let me introduce myself, I’m Claire and I’m the owner of Argent Jewellery. I’ll be posting on here along with some of the girls from the shop giving you some insight into running a jewellery shop and our perspectives on the industry. We hope to bring you regular content and ideas to keep up with fashion, trends, latest offers and new collections we have in stock.

What better way to launch our blog than to tell you a little about our newest collections. Last month myself and Charlotte visited The Jewellery Show, an annual trade show for jewellery at the NEC in Birmingham.

Despite difficult weather conditions, the show still managed to attract over 63,000 retailers from across the country to catch a first glimpse of up and coming ranges. It was not surprising to find a huge number of charms and bead collections dominating the show, as these are still a key trend for 2012. However, the ‘Shamballa’ bracelet (drawstring bracelets encrusted with Swarovski crystals) is creeping into the market offering a slight alternative to the more well-known ranges.

When choosing new pieces for the shop, our main tactic is to look out for what we know our most loyal customers will like, which can be quite an easy thing to predict when they’ve been coming to us for 23 years! We also want to attract new customers and stock ranges which, although possessing timelessness, are in touch with the current fashion trends. It is very important to look at the quality, designs which will appeal to a range of customers, and collections which cater to different budgets.
Here’s a roundup of our new collections:From our visit to the NEC, we acquired some gorgeous new ranges from a couple of designers we already stock – Mounir Designs and Flash Jordan, as well as three completely new designer collections. We hope the new collections will bring variety and some fresh designs our customers will be interested in. They also allow for us to keep up with the trends of the moment helping to attract new customers.

Mounir Design pendants

Mounir Designs
Mounir’s latest addition, to an already intricate and beautiful range, includes letter pendants which incorporate semi-precious birthstones. These would make a great birthday or christening gift.

Flash Jordan
Flash Jordan’s latest collection includes sculptural and stylish cufflinks with semi-precious stones, such as blue topaz, amethyst and garnet. The new ‘Jack the Lad’ collection is based upon the Union Jack and is relevant to the upcoming Olympics and the Queen’s diamond Jubilee.

Seen as the elite of cufflinks, these might attract the high end market.

Missoma bracelet

Missoma
Award winning designer, Missoma, has a collection of innovative designer jewellery in a variety of bold, colourful and directional designs. Available in 18ct vermeil and sterling silver, Missoma’s jewellery uses an array of exotic semi-precious stones.

Missoma has attracted a loyal and ever growing fan-base in the UK and abroad, as it offers affordable luxury with a fine jewellery look.

Rebecca
A new silver plated bronze collection from Rebecca, with a fresh white and sparkling statement that will look great for summer. An early claim to fame as it’s recently been sported by Jennifer Lopez on American Idol.

Stubbs and Co.
The last range we’ve taken on is Stubbs and Co., a fine silver mesh collection predominantly made up of bracelets.

Keep an eye out in store and on our website for the new collections over the coming weeks.