Creating your own unique look has long been an important part of the fashion industry for decades, from copying the fashion style of Marilyn Monroe to wearing the latest items of clothing from David Beckham, people around the world strive to wear what’s ‘on-trend’.
Consumers use fashion, and its various materials, colours and styles, to either fit in with a particular social group, in a bid to stand out from the crowd or simply because they just love to choose their own individual style of clothing.
Apart from the lastd decade, historically this hasn’t been a trend that has taken the jewellery industry by storm. Apart from bespoke jewellery, consumers will often buy a piece of jewellery that they see on the shelf and there’s often only one way it can be worn. Despite this, the past decade has seen the rise of composable jewellery – an affordable style of jewellery that can be constantly swapped or added to, making it personal to each individual wearer.
Common types of composable jewellery include stackable rings; bracelets that can either be added to with more bracelets or attached with unique charms; and necklaces where the pendants can be easily swapped. One brand making waves in the space is Quoins, which sells various collections of interchangeable and collectible pendants. Richard Morfoot, managing director at Fable Jewels, the UK and Ireland distributor of Quoins, says: “Quoins features one of the largest and most diverse collections of interchangeable ‘coins’ available on the market today.
“Predominantly stainless steel with quality gold and rose gold PVD plating, the collection has a huge variety of assorted coin holder pendants, necklace chains in different colours and lengths, and individual uniquely designed coins made from semi-precious stones, Murano glass, pearls and Swarovski crystals,” he adds.
The impact of the fashion industry
The rise in popularity of composable jewellery has been largely led by the fashion industry. Composable jewellery designers often follow the fashion world, using colours and themes that are on trend to design piece of jewellery that will appeal to the wider consumer. Fashion is seasonal which means constant updates to composable jewellery allow the retailer to own a constant supply of new stock and new designs that appeal to both existing and new customers.
Ying Pan, managing director of Xtra Star, comments: “The fashion industry has had an effect as people are investing in quality pieces, while creating a different kind of look. I’ve noticed a lot of people tend to like more playful jewellery and they like to layer different types of jewellery together. The whole stacking idea allows the consumer to wear the jewellery in different ways to create various looks.” Xtra Star specialises in semi-precious stones, with its pieces set in sterling silver and plated with 18-carat rose gold. Its most popular collection, named ‘Carry Me’ features stackable rings while its newest collection, ‘Harmony’, features jewellery that can be stacked up and worn in various different ways.
Not only does composable jewellery offer a unique sense of style for the consumer, it also offers the retailer a unique opportunity in that they are constantly able to ‘upsell’ the product for years after an initial purchase. Unlike traditional jewellery where the only chance of upselling on the same product is repairs, cleaning and perhaps a bespoke message, composable jewellery gives the retailers the chance to continually sell products that can add to a composable collection.
Retailers will be able to sell new designs created by a specific jewellery brand on top of the original bracelet, pendant or stackable ring which was purchased by the consumer. Perhaps one of the most popular upsell items of composable jewellery is charms, which can be added to bracelets to create a unique and personalised look.
Despite becoming a popular phenomenon in recent years, the practice of charms has actually been around for tens of thousands of years. It’s believed that during the pre-historic era, some 75,000 years ago, jewellery charms would be made from shells, animal bones and clay to ward off evil spirits and bad luck. Similarly in Ancient Egypt, charms were used for identification, as symbols of faith and luck and served to identify an individual to the gods in the afterlife. While the use may not be as spiritual now, composable jewellery is personal to its owner meaning retailers can target specific consumers, selling add-on pieces to the original product.
When does it start shifting?
Having become a staple part of the fashion world, composable jewellery is now popular for numerous types of outfits, making it popular for much of the year. Despite this, Pan comments that due to the style of clothes we wear in warm weather, this makes the sale of bracelets and rings particularly popular during the summer months. “In terms of bracelets and rings, they shift more so in the summer because during the winter we are always wearing gloves and long-sleeved tops so you don’t really get to see your wrists and hands,” she says. “I’d say they shift more when the sun’s out but they are popular all year round.”
Composable jewellery has grown in popularity in the past decade, and it’s hard to see that demand waning – particularly as new jewellery brands enter the market and existing jewellery brands, that weren’t in the space before, begin to move into it. Composable jewellery offers an affordable fashion-led style for consumers while giving retailers the chance to increase their revenue by touching on the fashion world and upselling.
This article first appeared in the April 2016 issue of Jewellery Focus