Men’s Treasure

A watch or wedding band is no longer the only jewellery piece worn by Australian men.
Posted in Feature

 
A watch or wedding band is no longer the only jewellery piece worn by Australian men…
 
Women are no longer the only ones lusting after items in jewellery store windows.
 
After years of wearing little, if any, jewellery beyond a watch or standard-issue wedding band, many Australian men are beginning to discover the joy of buying jewellery for themselves rather than their wives and/or girlfriends.
 
Fortunately Australian jewellery wholesalers have recognised this still small, but steadily growing, market and are meeting its wants and needs with a broad product range.
 
RJ Scanlan & Co is one such wholesaler. The company sells three jewellery collections aimed primarily at men – Dora, Soho and Teno Yukon.
 
Dora and Soho are dress and wedding ring collections while TenoYukon features bracelets, necklets and ‘beads’ called ‘elements’ made from rubber, steel, ceramics, wood and other “non-traditional jewellery materials”.
 
Scanlan general manager Stephen Brown believes the market for men’s jewellery is growing rapidly and that jewellery retailers must cater to its needs.
 
 
“Men are being influenced by magazines, celebrities, films, sports people and the surfing culture,” he says.
 
“For example David Beckham’s wedding ring was copied and sold around the world and The Lord of the Rings ring was actually sold as a piece of jewellery.”
 
This new daring in men’s jewellery choices is clearly reflected in RJ Scanlan’s Yukon range.
 
Made in Germany by Teno, Yukon is an extensive collection of bracelets and necklets that men can personalise with beads called “elements”.
 
There are over 100 elements incorporating a wide variety of materials such as steel, rubber, ceramics, wood and Mother of Pearl in the range.
 
Brown says the men buying Yukon are typically 20 to 30-year-olds although some “older men” are also purchasing the brand.
 
Scanlan’s Soho range is also finding an appreciative audience in the younger generation of Australian men – 20 to 30-year-old males who want to “look cool”.
 
Manufactured in sterling silver, steel, nine carat gold and titanium, the brand’s dress rings are round rather than flat-topped like traditional signet rings and “combine the metals in contemporary designs and patterns”.
 
“Traditionally most Australian men have only worn their wedding rings, or no rings at all, but many are now open to wearing more rings in bolder designs.”
 
Nonetheless Brown readily acknowledges that although Australian men are gradually growing more confident with wearing jewellery such as Yukon and Soho, women are still the major decision makers in the purchase of men’s wedding rings.
 
“We advertise Dora wedding rings in bridal magazines all around Australia as women almost always play a significant role in their purchase,” explains Brown.
 
And like men’s changing tastes in jewellery, the rings the women are choosing for their soon-to-be husbands are more daring than ever so the Dora range is made up of over 200 designs in 9, 14 and 18 carat gold as well as platinum and titanium.
 
“Ten years ago a typical men’s wedding was a nine carat half round or flat design but today it is likely to be something a lot more fancy and will often even include diamonds,” concludes Brown.
 
Cudworth Enterprises is another jewellery wholesaler targeting the male consumer with “modern designs”. The business, which has been selling men’s cufflinks since 1918 only began selling men’s jewellery “extensively” seven years ago but is clearly already reaping the benefits.
 
Director Neil McCammon says sales of the company’s Savage, Cudworth Steel, Cudworth Sterling Silver and Stahl men’s jewellery collection has grown so significantly that today it accounts for approximately 50 percent of total sales.
 
Featuring rings, bracelets, bangles, pendants, cufflinks and money clips. With a recommended retail price of less than $50 per item, Savage is an “inexpensive range of stainless steel jewellery for 18-25-year-old men looking for a look”.
 
Cudworth Sterling Silver offers cuff links, pendants, bangles, rings and bracelets in “classic and elegant designs” targeted at the mature male with retail prices between $100 and $150.
 
Cudworth Steel is a fashion-based range of stainless steel jewellery aimed at 25-50-year -olds in the “middle market” with individual pieces retailing for under $100 while Stahl, featuring steel and carbon fibre jewellery, is aimed at the top end of the men’s market with retail prices ranging from $299 to $399 per item.
 
According to McCammon, all four of Cudworth’s ranges are benefitting from men’s growing interest in jewellery.
 
“There has definitely been a shift in attitude towards men wearing jewellery over the years,” he says.
 
“The ‘metrosexual’ has made an impact.”
 
Nonetheless the company is still careful to select designs “that are as masculine as possible” so that they don’t “scare off the average Australian male”.
 
“We pick up designs that have an industrial edge to them or use high-tech materials such as carbon fibre or coloured fibre glass.”
 
McCammon believes the men’s jewellery buying trend is likely to continue its ascent.
 
“There is no reason for the trend to turn around,” he says. “Men are much more fashion-conscious now.”
 
Rory Cowan, the managing director of Hot Diamonds, has also witnessed the rapid ascension of men’s jewellery in the Australian market.
 
 
“When we started the company in Australia three years ago men’s jewellery only made up around five percent of our total jewellery sales but it now accounts for around 20 percent and shows no signs of abating,” he says.
 
“It’s not that long ago that the only jewellery most Australian men would wear was a simple chain or a ring but today many men are wearing earrings, bracelets and pendants.”
 
Readily acknowledging that many of the men wearing such jewellery are in the 18-35-year-old age bracket, Cowan says that he expects the age bracket to change as “the young men wearing the jewellery now continue to wear it as they grow older”.
 
He believes men’s jewellery growth trajectory in many ways parallels the growth in men’s watches in recent decades.
 
“Twenty years ago men did not spend thousands of dollars on a watch but gradually attitudes changed and men became aware of them as a fashion item and status symbol.
 
“I think we are now seeing that same attitude shift with men’s jewellery.”
 
To reflect this changing attitude, Hot Diamonds latest consumer advertising campaign featured a man and woman “wearing equal amounts of jewellery” and will be soon running a new advertisement featuring only a male model wearing jewellery.
 
“That would have been unthinkable to me just a few years ago,” says Cowan.
 
Indeed Lindsay’s sales and marketing manager Mark McNeil believes that men today are looking for jewellery in “revolutionary and fresh designs” made with materials other than gold and silver.
 
 
McNeil says that when the company began selling Morellato jewellery (stainless steel designs incorporating 18 carat gold, diamonds, enamel, carbon fibre, leather, ceramic and Swarovski crystals) in 2003, the only men’s jewellery available on the Australian market were “very traditional pieces that have been around since the 1970s” such as “gold chain and bracelets, signet rings, tie bars and cufflinks”.
 
“Things have changed a lot since then and the new male consumer of jewellery is looking for revolutionary and fresh designs made with different materials,” he says.
 
“A lot of men didn’t want to wear gold or silver jewellery so when a hard macho material like stainless steel came onto the market they embraced it.”
 
He says the Morellato range has recorded “another increase in sales” in the last 12 months and is confidant the growth will continue to “surge” despite the current economic climate.
 
Similarly, M+Y Steel is also glowing with recent sales success for its collection of men’s jewellery.
 
 
Manufactured from surgical steel with a polished or PVD coating, the range includes “everything from ring, pendants and bracelets to money clips and cuff links”.
 
Company co-director Steven Sher says men’s jewellery sales have been growing strongly for the last few years and “the last 12 months have been no exception”.
 
“The trend has been for men to consider jewellery as a normal part of their wardrobe and that stainless steel is now an acceptable material for jewellery. Neither of these facts were true 10 years ago.

“People are obviously influenced by what they read and see in the media both locally and internationally. The superstars of sport are now all wearing jewellery and the public follow their lead.”
 
Meanwhile Ross Paterson, the managing director of Paterson Fine Jewellery, has been experiencing steady sales of men’s jewellery in the last 12 months.
 
The company, which sells lined men’s rings, cufflinks and pendants in 9 carat gold and sterling silver with or without diamonds and semi-precious stones, has however noted an increase in sales of its silver items as the gold price has risen.
 
Paterson has also observed a move towards “trendier jewellery” featuring an array of materials beyond traditional metals and stones in the male jewellery market.
 
“Young men don’t value gold and silver like the older generation,” he says. “They don’t care what their jewellery is made of – they are happy to wear titanium, rubber, rope, stainless steel or plastic if they think it looks good.”
 
“I think they follow what sports stars like David Beckham and other idols are wearing and then copy them as much as possible.”
 
“They want bolder and louder types of jewellery that stands out.”
 
Not surprisingly, Paterson’s jewellery selection is aimed at the more conservative market of 30 plus men who value “traditional quality metals and stones”. 
 
“Many men do like to wear quality pieces of jewellery and are very confident wearing it,” he says.
ADJ Jewellers director Aram Atakliyan agrees. He sells gold chains, bracelets and bangles to the male market.
 
He readily admits that many of his customers belong to distinct “ethnic groups” as many Anglo-Australian men are still “too conservative” to wear gold chains.
 
However despite the reluctance of some Anglo-Australians to wear gold chains Atakliyan believes that increasing numbers of Australian men are wearing jewellery.
 
“Twenty years ago men didn’t want to be seen wearing any jewellery – not even their wedding bands,” he recounts.
 
“Nowadays they are wearing more jewellery than ever and I can foresee a time when Australian men will, like European men, wear even more jewellery than women.”
 
He says that the trend for men, particularly younger men in the 15 to 25 age group, to wear jewellery is driven by advertising, sports stars and singers/rockstars (particularly rap stars).
 
Like Cowan from Hot Diamonds, Atakliyan believes men’s jewellery is becoming increasingly popular in the same way that watches became popular on the local market.
 
“Twenty years ago there were only about four watch brands on the Australian market as most men only owned one watch but today there are many brands to choose from and they’re all bigger, better, brighter and chunkier than ever before.”
 

Wristy business

Personalised charm and bead bracelets have revolutionised the jewellery buying habits of Australian women.
Posted in Feature

Personalised charm and bead bracelets have revolutionised the jewellery buying habits of Australian women.
 
Australian women’s love affair with bead and charm jewellery is a bodacious phenomenon. While it’s true that charms have always generated a steady flow of business for local jewellery store owners it is only in recent years that bead/charm sales have made up such a large proportion of our industry’s profits.
 
The sales of beads/charms and their “carriers” (bracelets, necklets, etc) are so significant that many stores claim they now account for more than 30 percent of their takings while some go further and say they have quite literally “saved” their businesses.
 
Five years ago this would have been unimaginable but today it is common knowledge in the industry where charms/beads are welcomed by most, reluctantly accepted by some and reviled by others who dismiss them as “trinkets” or “not real jewellery”.
 
Whether Australian women’s obsession with beads/charms will last is unknown however the proliferation of bead/charm suppliers on the local market means that any retailer wanting to stock them can find a product to suit their customers’ needs at an appropriate price point.
 
Pandora, Lovelinks, Silverado, Chamilia, Tedora, Surreal, Trollbeads, Biagi and Thomas Sabo are just some of the brands now synonymous with quality bead/charm jewellery on the local market – and there are even more “brands” at the lower end of the market.
 
Pandora, of course, is the company that is credited with creating the unprecedented demand for beaded bracelets in Australia and therefore has probably rightly snared the largest share of the market.
 
In fact the brand’s highly effective marketing strategy has ensured that many consumers consider “Pandora” a generic term for beaded bracelets and consider many of the other brands as mere “imitations”.
 
According to Jeff Burnes, the company’s head of marketing and communications, the key factor behind the popularity of the Pandora range is “personalisation”.
 
“Being able to individualise jewellery is an attractive idea and collecting beads to remember special moments in life also appeals to many women,” he says.
 
“The concept remains intriguing because everyone has a different take on designing a bracelet as the number of looks you can create even with one bracelet and one collection of beads is endless.”
 
“Women love looking at how friends and sometimes complete strangers put their bracelets together and they borrow ideas and combinations from one another.
 
“The bracelet also provides the perfect solution for gift giving. We hear of so many people receiving a bracelet and a few beads for a special occasion and before they know it, the bracelet is full of precious gifts from their friends and loved ones.”
 
Burnes says the company, which boasts a collection of more than 700 handcrafted solid 14 carat gold and sterling silver beads that is updated twice yearly, is confident that the brand will continue to grow in the year ahead.
 
“All sales forecasts have been exceeded and we’re forecasting that our growth this year will be as strong as it has been every year so far.”
 
The company, which launched in Australia in 2004 after managing director Karin Adcock “knocked on the doors of around 150 jewellery stores” before finding a business willing to stock the brand, is not alarmed by the proliferation of bead/charms now available on the local market.
 
“We are pleased to see the strong awareness we have in the market,” explains Burnes.
 
“If someone does choose to wear a non-Pandora bead on their bracelet, they are very aware it is not the real deal. We have seen again and again that ladies want to stick to the genuine brand.
 
The company further protects its brand loyalty with an “internal screw mechanism” on its bracelets that has been “designed and engineered, specifically to work with Pandora beads only”.
 
“We cannot guarantee that other brands used in conjunction with the Pandora bracelet will not damage the bracelet and as such this form of use will not be covered under the Pandora manufacturer’s warranty.”
  
Nonetheless despite Pandora’s domination of the local market other wholesalers have found their own niches proving that one size (style) doesn’t necessarily fit all.
 
For example B Luscious has been distributing SilveRado’s collection of more than 1700 sterling silver, 14 carat gold and Murano glass charm beads for women, children and men in Australia since the end of 2007.
 
 
Managing director Peter Burgess says the brand, which has been distributed in Europe for around six years, is now experiencing “phenomenal demand” in Australia.
 
“Branded charm/bead sales are going from strength to strength, and shows no signs of slowing down,” he says.
 
“They would be the most desirable item of jewellery on the market today worldwide.”
 
Burgess believes that many factors are currently driving bead/charm sales.
 
“Strong advertising and marketing by the brands has created a desire to own a fashionable piece of jewellery,” he says.
 
“(Buying a charms/beads is) affordable retail therapy that creates a personal and individual piece of jewellery that is a conversation piece all over the world.”
 
He expects to see an increase in sales for charms and charm bracelets in the next 12 months.
 
“They are an affordable product in high demand,” he says.
 
“There is still a large proportion of the Australian population that desires to own this type of jewellery but have not yet made the initial purchase of the bracelet or still have a huge wish list of charms that they wish to own.”
 
He says key trends include a strong move from “plain silver or two-toned bracelets” to more colour – and mix-n-matching different brands.
 
“The biggest change is that the majority of consumers are no longer restricting themselves to one brand, they tend to mix and match on the same bracelet or … to have different brand bracelets with the relevant branded charms on.”
 
“There are a small number of consumers that will stick to a particular brand, but the majority of consumers are now looking for a choice. The charm bracelet is marketed as personal, and an individual piece of jewellery.  We cannot expect that the consumer will stick with one brand for the bracelet and charms as one brand cannot cater for everyone’s desires and personal taste.   We believe strongly in the consumer having the choice, and do not limit our guarantee of our product if there is another brands charm on our bracelet or visa versa.”
 
Pastiche is another relative new arrival to the Australian charm/bead market.
 
 
The company has launched three ranges of “charm bead jewellery” on the market in the last 18 months – Lovelinks (sterling silver, gold, gold-plated and Murano glass beads), Petite (the same style of beads in a smaller size) and Mix n Match (solid sterling silver and gold-plated jewellery components that allow wearers to mix both Lovelinks and Petite beads together to create other complementary jewellery pieces like rings, earrings and necklaces).”
 
Pastiche marketing manager Ciara Ryan says the public’s response to all three collections “has been hugely positive with sales exceeding all our expectations”.
 
She says the jewellery is popular with “a huge variety of people in various age groups”.
 
“The desire for personal or sentimental charms seems to be the driving force behind buying trends,” she says. “While one charm may not mean much to a particular person, it may be really significant to another so in all honesty the entire range is popular for various reasons.”
 
She believes the gift giving appropriateness of the beads is another key to their popularity.
 
“The singular beads lend themselves to the gift-giving process as many motifs celebrate specific milestones or life changing moments like births, birthdays and marriages… Therefore instead of agonising over a ‘new’ idea at every turn, gift-givers are happy to add to a previous gift with the assurance that it will be appreciated by the wearer.”
 
Interestingly, Ryan also believes that the proliferation of beads on the market helps, rather than hinders, brand loyalty among consumers.
 
“With the increase of branded lines and feature pieces, we have noted an upward trend in sales wherever a branded bead is concerned. This suggests that wearers are proud to identify with a particular brand and collect pieces from a singular collection.”
 
She does anticipate some sales disruption due to the global financial situation but is confidant the market “trends will remain strong enough to evolve and continue onwards over the next 12 months”.
 
Chamilia, which launched its collection of more than 600 14 carat gold, sterling silver Murano glass and coloured stone beads on the market two years ago, is also experiencing positive sales with “significant growth” in the last 12 months.
 
Company spokesperson Paula Twine says charms are currently drawing people because of “their emotive nature and the affordability of individual components”.

She says that gift buying is also driving sales as the “gift of a bracelet often fosters a love of collecting charms generating further sales”.

Similarly Isaac Jewellery, which launched the Surreal jewellery collection of 300 handmade beads made from 9 and 18 carat yellow, rose or white gold and platinum decorated with diamonds, pearls and coloured stones last August, is selling well

 
Isaac Jewellery business development manager Annette Atakliyan says that although the brand is still new it has done very well with customers wanting and appreciating “beautiful handmade jewellery”.
 
She says the main customers are middle to older-aged women or young affluent women who can afford the product (a basic bracelet retails for around $1600 while beads start at $116).
 
She says the interchangeability of the beads make them a very attractive item for most women.
 
“If a woman sees a pair of Paspaley pearl earrings advertised in a window she may or not be interested them if they don’t suit her but a woman seeing a Surreal beaded bracelet in the window will definitely be able to find something to suit as there are so many charms to choose from.”
 
She says customers who can afford to purchase the Surreal bracelet don’t mix n match with cheaper beads although “customers who buy a cheaper bracelet may add Surreal beads to it”.
 
Princess Pearl has also just arrived on the local beaded bracelet supplier list with the Natures Charm collection of cultured freshwater pearls (natural coloured and dyed) and rhodium-plated sterling silver charms.
 
 
Company co-owner Dean Finch says that although the product has just been released “thousands have already been pre-sold”. 
 
He believes the pearl-based range will be successful in the crowded market as the pearl bracelets and bright rhodium plated silver charms “combine to create a totally different look to existing charm bracelet systems” and each bead/charm has a recommended retail price of just under $45.
 
“We felt that the consumer would love to see a quality freshwater pearl charm and to this end we have developed a complete range of both pearl and pearl with silver charms to fit most existing bracelet systems.”
 
He says the company’s initial intention was to drill the pearls and glue decorative sterling silver caps on each side however quickly discovered “this method had many flaws affecting the quality and performance of the product and therefore set about constructing a one-piece sterling silver insert to overcome these flaws”.
 
As well as the three naturally occurring colours of freshwater pearls (white and light and dark lavender), the Natures Charm range also includes seven popular colours which have been through an intense dyeing process to ensure consistency.
 
The company is so confident of the bead/charms success that it is already planning the release of more pearl and gemstone charms in time for spring and Christmas.
 
But despite the success of such personalised bead jewellery brands on the local market, beads are not the only “charms” appealing to today’s woman. The traditional dangling charm is also thriving better than ever.
 
For example, Philip Edwards, director of Duraflex Australia, has been importing Thomas Sabo charms since 2006.
 
 

Made in Germany, the “traditional charms” are available in over 500 “contemporary designs” made from sterling silver, coloured enamels and hand-set cubic zirconia.

 
Each is sold with a parrot clasp that can be easily attached to the brand’s bracelets, necklets and mobile phone “carriers”.
 
Edwards says Sabo Charm Club customers are extremely loyal to the brand.
 
“A customer walking into a jewellery stocking both Sabo and Pandora is a Sabo or Pandora buyer – they are rarely one and the same. The differences between the brands are very distinct so customers who want bead bracelets will choose Pandora while those who want charms will choose Sabo.”
 
However Edwards believes that like Pandora, Sabo’s success is largely related to the personalisation ability of the product.
 
“Every customer can find a charm they relate to,” he says.
 
He says he initially presumed the charms would appeal to younger customers but has since discovered that “there are no boundaries” to the age of women and girls buying the product.
 
He readily acknowledges that selling charms, like beads, is a labour intensive task for retailers as customers pore over the individual designs and “umm and aah between a pink shoe or pink handbag” but says the charms generate a lot of “repeat business”.
 
Edwards believes the Thomas Sabo brand will continue to grow in the next 12 months.
 
“We feel it’s going to get stronger and stronger as brand awareness increases,” he says.
 
“The affordability, collectability and feel good factors are the factors that drive, and will continue to drive, its success.” 
 
Similarly Clarke & Walton’s traditional sterling silver and 9, 14 and 18 carat gold charms are now selling as well as they did when they were first launched on the Australian market in the 1960s.
 
Managing director John Clarke says sales of the company’s 300 plus charms (made from casts from original handmade sterling silver moulds) have been doing particularly well in recent years.
 
“The charm market always goes up and down but recently it has definitely been on the top,” he explains.
 
“I think the recent increase in sales is probably riding on the back of advertising by Pandora and some of the other new bead/charm companies,” he says.
 
However he stresses he is not concerned about the arrival of so many competitors in the bead/charm market as “many customers still prefer an original charm on a jump ring.
 
“I think many people will end up saying ‘Everyone’s got a Pandora bracelet so I want a traditional charm bracelet’.”
 
As the wholesalers continue to fight for their marketshare bead by bead and charm by charm, the company that largely started it all is happy to share its predictions for the next 12 months.
 
Burnes says the biggest trend in the bead/charm market is the move away from bracelets to other carriers like necklaces and earrings.
 
 “The major trend that we have seen is that more women come into the Pandora stores to buy matching jewellery and they match earrings and necklaces with beads on their bracelets,” he reveals.
 
“We’ve also had strong interest in lariats and we see women ‘playing’ with combinations of beads that they either take from their existing bracelet or those they buy specially for the leather strap. They wear this as a bracelet or a necklace and it looks stunning both ways.”
 
Whatever way they’re wearing them, it looks like Australian women (and men and children) will be brandishing beads and charms for quite a while.
 
 
 
 
 
 

arrow-rightcaret-downchevron-leftchevron-rightclosefacebook-squarehamburgerinstagram-squarelinkedin-squarepauseplaysearchtwitter-square