Jewelers are having to adapt to a new world, and the challenges they face will affect sales and profits for years to come.
A few weeks ago the biggest jewellery retailer in the UK, Marks & Spencer, announced a restructuring to focus on “innovative ways of doing things”.
Its chief executive, Stephen Fenton, said he was “truly optimistic” about the future of the jeweller’s business.
“I think we’ve hit the peak of that peak in terms of our business, and we’re not going to look back for very long,” he said.
The business of jewellery stores and jewellery shops In recent years, the industry has been struggling to survive on the back of falling jewellery sales, a phenomenon known as the “Jewellery Renaissance”.
This coincided with the decline of the diamond industry, the collapse of the silver market and a general decline in interest in jewellery as a means of wealth accumulation.
But with jewellery prices falling and demand for jewellery having risen in recent years in a way that was not seen in many other industries, the jewellers industry was left in a precarious position.
Its business was not growing as fast as the economy and its customers were.
In December 2016, the UK’s biggest jeweller, Marks and Spencer, said it would close its stores.
The firm was forced to close nearly 1,500 of its stores by December 31, a move that was also partly due to the collapse in demand for its products.
And in November, it was reported that Marks & Co had lost over £400 million ($7.8bn) on the sales of its jewellery brands in 2016.
Some jewellists were forced to consider shutting down altogether in recent months.
“We have been in a very vulnerable position for the last couple of years and we have been working very hard to adapt,” said Mark Williams, chief executive of the London-based jewelry shop Jewelers in London.
Williams said he believed the industry had been in this situation before, and that the situation had now changed.
“It has been an extremely challenging period for us, particularly in terms with our business and our financial position,” he told the BBC.
“As I said before, it’s not a sustainable position for us.”
Jewelers have been left to rely on donations to fund their operations.
But even with the financial challenges they faced, some are starting to look at the future.
“There is a great deal of demand for new ideas and innovation in jewellry, and a lot of people are looking to make their own,” said Richard Bresciani, director of retail at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
“The whole industry is undergoing a renaissance and I think we are in a golden age.”
A new approach to jewellery jewellery is still a long way off, but experts say it’s inevitable that jewelliers will be looking to change their business model and approach.
“A lot of the old guys are still with us,” said Bresy.
“So we need to keep them in their place and start to see how we can create something new for our customers.”
This new approach may mean the jewelers will be using technology to make jewellery that is more affordable and easier to order, with more jewellery options to choose from.
In recent months, jewellier shops have been opening up, offering the most affordable jewellery for sale.
“You can’t just have the most expensive jewellery, it has to be affordable,” said Williams.
“And what is more, you need to have a very good range of styles, so you can cater to different budgets.”
For now, Williams is focused on making jewellery accessible to as many people as possible.
He says he hopes to start up a jewellery chain that will cater to a wider range of consumers.
“People will be able to go and buy their favourite colours, they can have their favourite shapes, you can have different styles, all at the same time,” he explained.
“That’s what we’re trying to do.”