Delivering Luxury: Branding Jewelry In The Digital Age
by Andrea Brown on 02/26/2021 | 4 Minute Read
The continuous evolution of the digital world has changed the way people shop for luxury items. The business has shifted from the established boutiques of Fifth Avenue with their cavernous spaces and vertiginous rents to the more nimble world of the internet. Brands like Net-A-Porter and Farfetch have seized the opportunities offered by this shift to create a new arena for luxury brands. E-commerce is no longer just for the everyday sundries that don’t warrant a schlep to the store—it’s now a trusted source for the more select items we may spend weeks agonizing over.
This transformation is an even more dramatic one in the high-end jewelry world, where prices can shock. Traditionally, the process of purchasing heirloom-quality gems was an exclusive experience in a marble-clad space with a tony address. Now that we've dismantled the boundaries between commerce and e-commerce, people are more confident extending their online purchases to sparkling treasures they haven’t yet held in their hands. Of course, the pandemic has amplified this trend, pushing brands to rethink their online strategy and even pivot to online-only.
The prestige of heritage has long been the justification for the steep prices demanded by high-end jewelers, but it’s no longer enough to sustain a brand into the future. Some brands have been able to stay relevant by evolving their heritage with a keen awareness of the modern world. Tiffany’s latest campaign uses its iconic signature color in a bold (even edgy) way.
While in contrast, other pedigreed brands look like spinsters clutching their pearls at the thought of something so gauche. Cue Harry Winston’s Instagram feed, which makes it look like no one bothered to remodel the House of Harry since the 1980s.
The emergence of direct-to-consumer (DTC) jewelry brands is altering the landscape by shifting perceptions of just how luxury looks. Less overhead and a more targeted approach mean brands can (and should) take more risks when it comes to their visual identities and marketing campaigns.
Kalevala is a Finnish jeweler established in 1937, and their recent rebrand by BOND is a shining example that takes the best elements of their heritage and reinvents them for today. The bold calligraphic letterforms of the logo take inspiration from the blackletter of the original 1930s mark, and the color palette comes from traditional Finnish folk art. These updated brand elements combined with refreshingly non-traditional models make it feel distinctly of the moment.
Tiny Gods is a fine jewelry company with a roster of innovative designers from all over the world. The branding, created by our team at Mucca, eschews the safe minimalism of typical luxury brands with a strong POV that references the emotions jewelry can elicit. Tiny Gods offers a highly personal service and intuitive approach to help clients (and their befuddled partners) and find pieces that speak to them in a meaningful way, illustrating that this new landscape is not only shifting the way luxury looks, but also the way it acts.
Values have also become more integral to the brand story, with sustainability and ethical practices becoming key protagonists. Aurate is an online fine jeweler gaining followers with its “mine to workshop” ethic and push for transparency. Even basic sales models are changing. The Clear Cut now uses digital media to demystify the cryptic world of diamonds while upending old-school practices by selling to their millennial fan base via DM and Instagram.
The web is making shopping a more inclusive experience for everyone, where people of all backgrounds and styles can feel confident in a luxury space without feeling shadowed by pursed-lipped clerks asking, “Can I help you?” What they really mean is “see yourself out.”
DTC's success reveals that the pedigree of a distinguished heritage isn’t enough for a jewelry brand to compete in this new economy, and the ubiquitous flagship store is quickly mutating from a peacock into an albatross. We link traditional thinking behind jewelry to the concept of prestige, but today’s consumers want to connect with brands in a more meaningful way. Whether your brand values are individualism, ethics, community, or empowerment, you must tell that story and then walk the walk.
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