For some, the past 18 months or so has proven to be a good time to invest in the kind of wardrobe additions that you'll not only enjoy wearing right away, but that you'll also love forever. With disposable income re-routing from holidays or dinners out to considered fashion and accessory purchases, there has been a noticeable rise reported by many luxury brands and e-tailers in categories such as leather-goods, fine jewellery and watches. And the tail-end of 2021 has seen quite the peak in the latter two: According to shopping app LYST, over the past three months, there has been "a rise in searches for gold fine jewellery; they’re currently up 23% month-on-month. Although necklaces and earrings are the most popular categories at the moment, searches for Cartier’s bracelets have increased 26% since the start of October.”
Our desire to cherry pick pieces that speak to our personalities and that we will always adore and cherish is stronger than ever. NET-A-PORTER's Senior Market Editor, Libby Page says, "Customers have been looking for truly special, timeless investment pieces that can be treasured for the long-term. They want pieces they can ‘buy now and wear forever’… Chain necklaces, heritage watches by the likes of Cartier and Hermès, signet rings, zodiac pendants by Foundrae and delicate hoops earrings by the likes of Jessica McCormack are pieces that have that personal touch and can be worn every day."
It hasn't been plain sailing for all parts of the jewellery sector since the start of the pandemic. In fact, according to McKinsey, “a global industry with combined annual sales of over $329 billion in 2019, fine jewellery ($280 billion) and watches ($49 billion) are highly significant industries in terms of their contribution to global business. The fine jewellery and watch industries suffered revenue declines of 10 to 15 and 25 to 30 percent respectively”. At a legacy brand level many companies didn’t have the digital infrastructure to support online-only sales and so, in stepped other, more nimble, independent, demi-fine brands who could pivot quickly and decisively. Many of these reported triple figured growth as we, the consumer looked for ways to jazz up our looks whilst we were all stuck at home.
I’ve spoken to the experts including buyers, designers and retailers for their breakdown of what we were all buying in 2021 across watches, fine and demi-fine jewellery, because these bubbling-up trends are all solid indicators of what will still be going strong for 2022. So, here are the 7 luxury jewellery and watch trends you need to look out for…
Photo:Courtesy of By Pariah and Roxanne First; @fiahamelijinck
Luxe beads are everywhere and this shows no signs of dissipating in either the fine or demi-fine jewellery categories. London-based jeweller and queen of nostalgic styles, Roxanne First launched her “Bead for your Bestie” campaign in January 2021, giving customers a fun way to connect with their BFF by creating and sending a friendship bracelet in the post.
Carolina Bucci’s Forte beads offer a similar, more elevated offering (exclusively semi-precious stones here) showing us that just because we’re grown up and wearing fine jewellery doesn't mean we can't have a bit of fun. Bracelets are knotted by hand by the wearer and come with Bucci’s signature woven gold thread.
Celebrity favourite, Mateo has added bold turquoise strands to his newest collection. Founder Matthew Harris found inspiration from his “true island boy” upbringing where he was always to be found wearing a beaded necklace or anklet. Meanwhile, over at Threads Styling, Ananya has been the biggest brand in this category with their customers enjoying the bespoke options available to them through Personal Shoppers. These pieces are über luxe, fun and add a bit of texture to your look. Look at the Threads Jewels Instagram for more inspiration—matching your Anaya to your Rolex is a whole microtrend in itself, and they are all but sold out everywhere you look!
For years we’ve been obsessed with dainty stacking rings and delicate eternity bands. There is, without doubt, a change in the air, led in part by US-based jewellers Brent Neale and Kirsty Stone at Retrouvai.
Neale was a design director at Kara Ross so knows her way around the statement jewel. The master of the gemstone cocktail ring, her bold, chunky yellow gold styles with rub over set gems are pure pleasure on the eye (and are hugely popular with her global stockists like NET-A-PORTER where she regularly sells out).
Mie Ejdrup, co-founder of FineMatter (a new jewellery sales platform that focuses on the independent jeweller) sees the cocktail ring as the ultimate self gifting piece—a way to celebrate empowerment, self-expression and independence. The ring we don’t have to wait for someone to give us.
Randi Molofsky, Co-Founder of For Future Reference—a boutique PR and sales agency that specialises in fine jewellery—tells me "The coloured gemstone cocktail ring is one of our biggest sellers, especially in chunky shapes set in yellow gold. We’re really seeing our clients looking for something unique —whether it’s a fancy-cut stone, an oversized silhouette or even an unusual gem."
I asked jeweller Lauren Rubinski what she thought, as she has several diamond pavé cocktail rings as well as a solid gold puffy heart on it’s way for 2022. She gave me a styling tip: she told me to wear mine on my pinky ring for a decadent, chic yet rock 'n' roll look.
I’ve seen a handful of great offerings from demi-fine brands Daphine and Otiumberg whose Gisele and Diamond Burr rings are crying out to be layered up for an even more unique look. UK-based independent jeweller/makers Jessie Thomas and Minka Jewels are great places to source your own bespoke creation.
The State of Fashion (a watches and jewellery report published by Business of Fashion in July 2021) reported that, “the premium to ultra-luxury watch industry will see value reshuffle across geographies, channels and consumer segments in the next five years.” They predict that, “revenue will transfer from retailer to watch makers as direct-to-consumer business models take centre stage, while the pre-owned watch market is set to become the industry’s fastest growing segment. This prediction is supported by Vestiaire Collective who recently reported a spike in searches for Rolex (+18%) and Omega (+12%). In essence, all signs points towards a resurgence in truly timeless watch styles.
We are seeing a strong desire to return to the classics with key heritage brands like Cartier and Hermès at the fore. NET-A-PORTER confirmed to me that they have seen robust performance with the “Classic Stainless Steel Ballon Bleus from Cartier and the Heure H by Hermes which is a perfect price point for customers new to watches.”
As an extension of this trend, however, my sources at Threads Styling, NET A PORTER, MATCHESFASHION and Browns all told me about a surge in demand for limited edition and one-off timepieces. The designer on everyone’s lips is jeweller Jacquie Aiche with her custom vintage watches. She restores and revamps key styles from Rolex and Cartier by adding gemstones, a custom leather strap or hand painted imagery. Look out for her exclusive Zodiac collection which has arrived just in time for a very fancy Christmas.
Holly Harding, Buying Manager of Non-Apparel at Browns says “Re-imagined watches really resonate with our customers, from the likes of Lizzie Mandler (as well as Aiche). What makes these so appealing is that they are either completely individual or in limited supply."
Threads Styling's Sophie Quy, Executive Vice- President Brands, echoes this sentiment, reporting requests for these type of pieces rising significantly this year, over 100% YoY, with clients asking for unique colour and detail combinations that reflect their personal sense of style. Threads also offers customers the opportunity to play designer for the day with full customisable timepieces like the Threads x Wildman exclusive.
Photo:@threadsstyling; Courtesy of Fry Powers and Boochier
This year I have seen an influx of brands branching out to experiment with brightly coloured enamel. Page tells me that “colour continues to have a powerful impact in the world of fine jewelry, whether it be semi or precious stones, inlay details or splashes of enamel we are still seeing mood lifting pieces across the board. This ‘more is more’ attitude is also across the way we style jewellery, via the art of layering chains and necklaces, to ear stacks."
The star jeweller in this category is Bea Bongiasca whose Vine ring is a sell-out hit with all the retailers I spoke to. Celebrities and shoppers alike have fallen for her asymmetric, squiggles topped with semi-precious stones. A bit Pop Art, a bit Memphis, Kim Kardashian, Florence Pugh, Beyonce and Dua Lipa are all fans.
US brand, Fry Powers is new to MATCHESFASHION and already in their best-selling jewellery brand list. Launched in 2018 by Alison Fry, this brand initially caught my eye on celebrity makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes (who always has an excellent #curatedear situation going on). They sell rings and earrings in mini collection sets so you rock an instant stacked look. Other brands with a strong enamel offering are Boochier and Melissa Kaye.
A key trend has been percolating away in the background for a couple of years but this year has found a real focus is our obsession with heavy yellow gold chains. Put it down to #zoomlife it would appear we want people to really SEE our jewellery.
Fashion Icons like Rosie Huntington-Whitely are rarely seen without a chunky gold chain necklace and it seems to be the key item for those who choose a tonal, pared back fashion aesthetic. A deep, (deep) dive into Rosie's Instagram tells me that she rotates a 18kt gold Tiffany City Hardwear graduated link necklace or two with a Lauren Rubinski Large necklace, Medium and Extra Large necklace (she has several from the brand) in 14kt gold and a slightly daintier Jessica McCormack Ball ‘n Chain necklace. I’ve spied some Bottega thrown in there for good measure too. Honestly, whilst we’re on Rosie—I’m dubbing her the new Elizabeth Taylor for her spot on adornment choices and her championing of independent jewellery brands.
All of my experts tell me that Lauren Rubinski is the gold (sorry!) standard when it comes to the chunky chain—her pieces sell out regularly and are famed for their large, hollow links which contributes to their super light, easy wearability. Rubinski herself tells me “they are great investment pieces, go with everything and are a true wardrobe staple.”
If solid gold is cost prohibitive there are so many amazing options in the demi-fine category. Missoma gave us their Axiom chain in 2019 and have been serving strong chain looks ever since. They have myriad options with detachable pendants to add to create an even more maximalist look. Another leader in this category is Aligheri, with oversized, blown out links in a more rustic style.
Photo:Courtesy of Completed Works and By Pariah; @emilisindlev
Jewels that resemble tiny pieces of art appear to have been resonating well with consumers. Cecily Motely, founder of London jewellery brand, Motley reveals that their collaboration with artist Zak Seinman which launched in October 2021 is already sitting in their top five best sellers for the whole year. Crafted in 18k gold vermeil, the Gold Whoosh Hoop Earrings use an innovative electroforming technique to mimic an inflatable design. The success of this along with brands like Completedworks, Anita Ko and Carlotte Chesnais demonstrate our desire for a bolder, more daring look.
Harvey Nichols Contemporary Accessories and Jewellery Buyer, Kathryn Tan tells me that Completedworks was one of their best-selling brands this year with their pearl Wibble Wobble earrings marked as being a best seller with their clients and currently sold out.
Newly picked up by NET-A-PORTER and Liberty for this season is independent demi-fine brand, By Pariah whose sculptural Sabine Hoops are part oyster shell, mermaid chic and part scalloped satellite dish. A self confessed “lazy-dresser”, founder, Sophie Karg has created a collection of jewels for women who are comfortable letting their jewellery take centre stage. Slink into your black slip dress and go.
The way we wear jewellery now is so exciting. We mix our costume with fine and demi-fine. We have multiple piercings and layer several chains on top of each other (search #neckmess and find 109k posts for inspiration). We use our jewellery as a way to communicate—to show who we love, what month we were born, our rising sign, that we are searching for love (or have already found it).
Browns have seen the trend of "jewellery with meaning" become more and more prevalent; whether this be through initials and numbers, or spirituality and symbolism from brands like Foundrae. Tanika Wisdom, Buyer at MATCHESFASHION has 'curated a strong edit of uplifting, joyful pieces from colourful gemstones, to positive messaging and healing crystals." This is a sentiment shared by Quy: "The uplift in mood boosting jewellery over the summer has shown no sign of slowing down. Also trending are crystals, gems and talismans with the most-sought after brands including Harwell Godfrey, Ananya and Marie Lichtenberg.|
Roxanne First has made gemstones and their power a cornerstone of her brand. She told me, “these materials have an energy (as everything does) and this energy has a certain magic to it. RF vibes is about education on the materials we use in our pieces—and if it is not for you, that's totally cool and you appreciate the piece for it's beauty—however, if you believe these materials do have the ability to help heal, focus or soothe, then great!”
And if crystals and gems are a bit too woo-woo for you, First has recently launched an It’s Ok Edit which is a dedicated homage to… the smiley. These pieces feature smiley faces set with diamonds. She explains, “ : ) is widely regarded as the international symbol of happiness, the simple design is one of the most ubiquitous images of the 21st Century— understood in most cultures and languages around the world. If one can wear it on a T-shirt, send it in a text—why not create one in diamonds? Happy days always.”