Customisable jewellery has consumers coming back for more – ARABELLA RODEN finds out why.
Every day, what we choose to wear makes a statement about who we are – and that extends to our accessories. There’s nothing like putting your own stamp on a piece of jewellery and really making it your own; whether that be the choice of colour, finish or gemstone, or including special symbols and messages that really express your values and individuality.
Customisable jewellery makes this process simple, combining interchangeable elements within a standard design framework. This type of accessory sits at the intersection of fashion trend and individual design, and feeds into consumers’ lasting love for personal and unique pieces.
“Today’s customers want something different and unique,” Frederic Brunel Acquaviva, vice-president of sales at Renaissance Luxury Group, says. And he believes successful brands create customer loyalty whilst attracting a new customer base for retailers by refreshing collections and launching new ranges.
For retailers, stocking customisable jewellery has great potential. Onselling and upselling is more likely, because these ranges are by their nature collectable. They also foster familiarity with and loyalty to a brand, creating an entry point for further sales, and leave consumers feeling inspired and excited for what they’ll buy next.
Tania McIntosh, co-director of G And T On Grant in Victoria, says, “We have only stocked the Qudo customisable range for a few months, but we are quickly developing a loyal customer base. When our customers leave the store after purchasing their first ring, they have already decided on the next one they are going to buy.”
All kinds of customisable jewellery make the consumer part of the jewellery design process in an easy, accessible and cost-effective way.
“Consumers look for items that can tell a story about themselves or show their style,” says Ken Abbott, managing director TimeSupply, which distributes customisable brands Qudo and Nomination. “Australians and New Zealanders love to have the opportunity to create their own versions [of a jewellery piece] – whether that be rings, bracelets or necklaces – and feel they have a ‘one off’.”
Helen Thompson-Carter, managing director Fabuleux Vous – which includes engraveable pieces, lockets, and charms and pendants with existing slogans – explains, “Every piece tells a story and inspires a new one. The demand for the personalised pieces – the ‘let’s tell a story’ or the ‘this emotionally resonates with me’ products – is growing and we’ve seen that through our own sales.”
Phil Edwards, managing director Duraflex Group (DGA) which distributes Thomas Sabo, Nikki Lissoni and Engelsrufer says, “Whether it is a bracelet, necklace or pendant, customers are wanting to personalise jewellery to make it a special, memorable piece that they or a loved one can treasure.”
Charmed, I’m sure
Charm bracelets and necklaces, pendants and lockets are the classic examples of customisable pieces. Their enduring appeal is down to the spiritual or emotional significance they have. These products are linked to self-representation – not only do they show off your taste in fashion, they also display personal information, like a birthday, hobby or relationship status, and create a sense of unique individuality.
Thompson-Carter explains, “It’s about creating an emotional connection to a time, place or event – something that’s very special.”
The elements of this type of customisable jewellery frequently commemorate specific events in the customer’s life, making them perfect as gifts and heirlooms; as Thompson-Carter says, “Jewellery lasts from generation to generation. It’s the gift of a lifetime and of many lifetimes.”
She uses the example of Fabuleux Vous’ Journey pendant, which is decorated with a compass and engraved with the message, ‘Trust in the journey’.
“You could say: ‘My grandmother wore this piece when she travelled across the world, and now I’m the third generation and I’m still trusting in the journey she took.’ That’s a powerful message, and retailers need to know how to tell that story,” Thompson-Carter says.
Thomas Sabo has embraced the trend with its Generation Charm Club collection, which features more than 600 charms, from lizards to martini glasses, and 60 bracelet designs; Edwards says the collection is ideal for expressing the wearer’s personality.
“There are pieces in this range that can be worn by men and women of all ages, while being combined to tell an individual story for each customer,” he adds.
Vicki Linklater, of Regency Jewellers – which has six stores in regional NSW and stocks Thomas Sabo and Nikki Lissoni – says, “Our customers love to be able to mix and match, and have various different looks with just a few items of jewellery. They always look forward to the new releases so that they can add to their collection.”
Regency also stocks the Charmour range of personalised engraved pendants, which Linklater reveals are mostly gifted – whereas Thomas Sabo and Nikki Lissoni pieces tend to be self-purchased.
“Charmour is popular around significant events, such as Mother’s Day, while Thomas Sabo and Nikki Lissoni are popular at any time of the year – particularly when they release new collections,” she adds.
Italian jewellery brand Nomination’s Composable collection riffs on the charm bracelet theme, allowing customers to add and swap precious links on a simple stretch bracelet, with each link featuring a key symbol or phrase. Like Thomas Sabo, the design is suitable for all genders.
“Nomination Composable was among the first customisable jewellery collections, founded and still handmade in Florence, Italy since 1987,” says Abbott. “Today, we are finding a large rise in demand for Nomination from younger consumers – male and female – who are regularly updating their bracelets with all their achievements and constantly changing interests.”
Abbott calls Nomination bracelets a “gift for life” for this reason, and says you can “add and update with new links for every occasion – birthday, graduation, travel, engagement, wedding, birth of a child, or sporting achievement” – adding, “With new links regularly released, the opportunities to continue to sell and update are unlimited.”
Engelsrufer’s flagship design is a sterling silver basket pendant that can hold interchangeable ‘sound balls’ – handmade metal balls of different colours and finishes, that softly chime to ‘call’ a guardian angel. “Engelsrufer touches the hearts of its customers by incorporating special meanings into their hand-crafted jewellery,” Edwards explains.
The name ‘Engelsrufer’ means ‘angel’s whisper’; each ball is said to call upon a different angel representing a different emotion, so the concept lends itself to purchasing a new sound ball to represent different situations or emotions.
Nikki Lissoni pendants echo this sentimental and adaptable concept. They open up and can be filled with different ‘coins’ featuring bejewelled designs like a tree of life, star or heart.
These ranges have struck a chord with consumers. “Nikki Lissoni’s interchangeable coins continue to be in high demand due to the hundreds of different combinations that can be created, while the Engelsrufer sound balls and their special meanings make them the most popular items in the range,” says Edwards.
Not all personalised pieces focus on emotional connection – some centre on high-concept design, fashion, innovation and convenience. These products can be physically adapted and changed by the consumer to suit the occasion or the outfit they’re wearing at a particular time.
One of the leading customisable jewellery ranges is Les Georgettes by Altesse, which is part of Renaissance Luxury Group. The concept combines decorative metal frames with interchangeable leather straps in a wide range of colours.
Beginning with the Les Essentielles collection of bracelets, the range has since expanded into rings, earrings, necklaces and now stackable pieces.
“In such a crowded market, where so many brands struggle to offer something different, Les Georgettes seems to have found its niche, offering colourful, eye-catching, good quality, customisable jewellery at an affordable price,” Acquaviva says.
“Our products stand out because of the unique concept of the brand, with products that combine personalisation, colours and pattern. They are affordable yet top-quality, thanks to their Made in France status,” he adds.
German brand Qudo is known for its customisable rings, bracelets, necklaces and earrings. The changeable ‘topper’ elements are made with Swarovski crystals in a vast array of styles and colours.
“Qudo releases new toppers and new colours regularly to match the season or the current fashion trends, so this also gives retailers the opportunity to sell to existing Qudo ring owners,” Abbott explains.
“Unlike other customisable ranges, with Qudo it’s really all about the style and colour – consumers love the ability to mix and match. They’re a great gift idea too, because once you have gifted the ring or bracelet, you can give new toppers for birthdays or Christmas.”
McIntosh has noticed the trend with her customers, saying, “On several occasions a group of girls have pooled their money together to purchase a ring and topper, plus a gift voucher. That way the birthday girl can come into our store again and purchase another topper for her beautiful new ring.”
These ranges appeal during tougher economic times, too – instead of purchasing four different bracelets, for example, consumers simply purchase a new interchangeable component, which alters the whole look of the piece for a fraction of the price.
McIntosh confirms that affordability is the biggest draw for her customers. “They love the price – the rings are affordable enough to buy regularly. The biggest problem most customers have is choosing which one to buy. This often leads to buying one and placing other ring tops on layby, so customers return again and again,” she says.
A point of difference
The key to retail is repeat sales, and customisable jewellery is the epitome of this trend. Not only does it give consumers the satisfaction of collecting the whole set, showing off their personal style and celebrating important moments in their life, there’s also the necessity of buying elements that match the base design.
Linklater describes fans of customisable brands as “very loyal, they are always looking forward to seeing something new that has been added to the collection.”
Abbott points to the excitement consumers feel whenever the latest Nomination link is released. ”Being able to create customisable jewellery around ever-evolving life stories brings with it endless opportunities to sell more jewellery; once the customer completes a story on one bracelet, they can then build the next and layer their bracelets,” he says.
“During this process, you learn more about your customer and introduce more ideas and suggestions; you become part of the journey and the trusted go-to retailer.”
Thompson-Carter and Edwards agree that customisable jewellery offers a “point of difference” for retailers and appeals to a broad range of consumers, providing something that will appeal to everyone.
“Personalised jewellery gives people choice, and that’s what we’re finding with shoppers – people really want to have something that they can call their own, that’s extra special for them,” Thompson-Carter says.
When it comes to the Qudo range, McIntosh praises the products’ “broad appeal”, saying that customers range from age 30 to 80. “The quality is excellent and the ever-changing range is large enough to suit everyone’s taste,” she adds.
The bonus feature of customisable ranges is the way they encourage brand loyalty, and act as a gateway to the rest of a jewellery range; Thomas Sabo used this strategy very effectively.
“Those customers who have become greatly devoted to the charms then turn around and realise there’s now this whole jewellery collection on offer. Retailers know the charms have worked and understand the power of the brand, so they ask what’s next. They want to evolve and grow with the brand,” Edwards reveals.
Les Georgettes has seen similar results, with Acquaviva saying, “Our debut collection featured customisable bracelets and since then this has grown to customisable rings, necklaces and earrings, with many more innovations to come.
“You need to ensure that the brand will continue to solidify customer loyalty whilst attracting new customers by launching new designs, colours and product categories,” he adds.
When it comes to marketing fashion-led pieces, he emphasises a strong brand identity and an eye-catching display as key for retailers.
“Everything in the Les Georgettes universe, from the packaging to in-store marketing tools, is co-ordinated in-line with the brand’s DNA, providing the consumer with a full brand experience, wherever they may be in the world,” Acquaviva says.
“Today, customers are turning to niche brands that put more emphasis on producing quality products that reflect the consumer’s personal sense of style. Les Georgettes is very colourful and eye-catching – it’s very attractive when customers see it in the window.”
Abbott agrees that consistent marketing plays a big role. “We use social media, online marketing and in-store marketing to guide consumers into retail outlets. Seeing the items in the flesh is a better way to choose and customise your jewellery story,” he says.
Ultimately, customisable jewellery is a popular, marketable trend that combines built-in sales and brand loyalty, making it a sensible option for retailers.
CUSTOMISABLE JEWELLERy: MAKES A STATEMENT ABOUT WHO WE ARE
“Every piece tells a story and inspires a new one. The demand for the personalised pieces – the ‘let’s tell a story’ or the ‘this emotionally resonates with me’ products – is growing and we’ve seen that through our own sales.”
Above: Les Georgettes by Altesse
“Today’s customers want something different and unique.”
Above: Fabuleux Vous
“Whether it is a bracelet, necklace or pendant, customers are wanting to personalise jewellery to make it a special, memorable piece that they or a loved one can treasure.”
Above: Duraflex Group Australia
“Consumers look for items that can tell a story about themselves or show their style.”
CUSTOMISABLE JEWELLERY GALLERY
Above: Fabuleux Vous
Above: Les Georgettes by Altesse
Above: Duraflex Group Australia