The jewellery industry’s emerging new generation is bringing with it a wealth of inherited knowledge and established family values. This, paired with fresh ideas and contemporary brand vision, has seen long-running businesses continue to grow.
The new generation stands on the shoulders of giants and this, while perhaps daunting, is also incredibly exciting. These new industry faces continue to pay homage to their history and brand reputation, but new leadership, culture and direction are key priorities for the new wave of jewellery industry specialists.
Family run businesses have seen a change in staffing structures to incorporate these new faces. While innovative ideas are starting to emerge, the values and strengths of the previous generations remain important features of the ongoing success of these brands.
The people from these businesses, namely Carol and Jennifer Beck as well as Greville Ingham from Becks (previously Peter W Beck Pty Ltd), Natasha and Alex Chipman from Natasha Schweitzer, Sam, Nic, Paul and Jane Shadiac from Paul Shadiac Imports and Daniel Wishart from Wishart Jewellers are paving the way for a new generation.
1/4 Carol + Jennifer Beck and Greville Ingham from Becks (previously Peter W Beck)
Changes in the industry, fresh ideas and new leadership—
Greville Ingham now leads the ship as the Managing Director of Becks grateful for the trust and confidence afforded by his sisters. Carol Beck works in administration and Jennifer Beck, customer service, understanding the need for the brand to have fresh blood and introduce further femininity to the business.
Previously traditionally managed businesses are seeing a shift into inclusive and adaptable spaces necessary to thrive in this changing economic landscape.
The name change to Becks “is kind of that homage to family,” says Greville, recognising the significance of the name but also wanting to present as a family business as opposed to a one man band.
The new name is just the start of this organisation’s pivot to adding a modern flavour to the established brand. Greville is excited to move the company to be more inclusive, leaving the ‘blokey’ feel of Peter W Beck Ptd Ltd behind.
“Evolve — not revolutionise,” says Greville.
Similar sentiments are felt at Wishart Jewellers. “I’m not going to reinvent the wheel in any shape or form,” says Daniel Wishart, “however I am eager to modernise structure and staff development to ensure growth over time.”
At Paul Shadiac Imports, son Sam Shadiac explains that changes to the business occur slowly, as the priority is maintaining relationships with retailers.
2/4 Natasha and Alex Chipman from Natasha Schweitzer
“We’ve recently modernised some of our business practices for a better customer experience, but we won’t be changing the brand overnight. Ultimately, we aim to continue to deliver on what retailers expect of us; dependability, first-rate client service and an exciting variety of high-quality European jewellery.”
Founded in 1972, the Marion Schweitzer brand is now being headed by daughters Natasha and Alex Chipman. Revitalising their mother’s dream, the sisters have developed the new Natasha Schweitzer brand and loaded it with fresh ideas. The jewellery reflects the styles, ambitions, hopes and desires of the trio of women as they have moved through different stages of their lives.
“When we were in our early 20s it was all about statement earrings and demi-fine pieces,” says Natasha, “now we really focus more on higher priced designs with diamonds and engagement rings, which reflects the current stage of our lives being in our late 20s. We will constantly evolve and change, and so too will the things that inspire us.”
Changes in the industry are inevitable. With the support of their families and industry community, the new generation are steadily forging their own paths.
Values learnt following previous generations—
While it is clear that the new generation are bringing with them change both structurally and culturally, these young jewellers were quick to attribute their successes to the generation before them.
3/4 Grant and Daniel Wishart from Wishart Jewellers
The premium customer service focus at Wishart Jewellers has been part of the company’s core values over their 70 years of business. The founder was an icon of the community and being respectful of his name and enduring hard-work honours the brand legacy and reputation.
“My grandfather is still asked for at the counter today,” says Daniel.
At Becks, Greville understands that maintaining the significant impact his father had on the community is crucial to helping their business move forward in the future.
“Reputation is everything, and we want to remain a transparent business that supports the industry,” says Greville.
Peter Beck was involved in supporting apprenticeship awards and, throughout his life, promoted and contributed to the growth of the industry and not simply his business in it.
This attitude will continue on at Becks, along with their honoured position as a solely Australian manufacturer.
Greville from Becks states he is proud to “fly the Australian flag, because we are one of the few remaining manufacturers that does everything.”
Keeping the business in Australia does mean a greater price point compared with overseas manufacturing, admits Greville, but this decision allows for a more focused and refined collection.
Nic Shadiac, at Paul Shadiac Imports, explains the importance of retaining and maintaining business relationships that have been forged by previous generations.
“Building that trust with our customers in the same way that my parents did has always been front of mind,” says Nic.
In a family-run business like Paul Shadiac Imports, the new generation have had the privilege to grow up witnessing the strength and growth of the brand.
“We have watched our parents work
in this business and industry our whole lives. They have established a great name and have a reputation for their hard work and honesty.”
These attributes are also reflected in the team of staff at Paul Shadiac Imports, some of which have been working for their organisation for 35 years.
4/4 Sam, Jane, Paul and Nic Shadiac from Paul Shadiac Imports
The new generation are fortunate to incorporate the values learnt from previous generations into the future vision for their brands. The strength of these values remain significant aspects of the business and allows the new generation to focus on staying unique and anticipating trends in the industry.
Words of advice
In keeping with respecting the previous generations’ ideas, many of these young jewellers look to their predecessors for inspiration.
Natasha and Alex from Natasha Schweitzer say the best piece of advice from their mother was “just keep going.”
“Pushing boundaries with design and never becoming complacent in our work is key. Unless we are constantly evolving to meet the demands and desires of our client, growth becomes impossible,” says Natasha.
The Natasha Schweitzer brand has found success through striking a balance between the artistic side of the business and the commercial side.
“I feel that a lot of creatives struggle with the balance, so finding the time to focus on your business and not just the ‘art’ is important,” says Natasha.
Anticipating trends is an important part of staying engaged with consumers and maintaining brand relevance.
“We believe that Australian trends are industry leaders when it comes to styles and modern design that has a great balance between traditional and contemporary,” says Daniel.
At Wishart Jewellers, specialising in hand-crafting allows them to stand out from their competitors.
“There’s a certain romance about it,” Daniel adds.
Staying unique is also about having a strong brand story. The process at Wishart Jewellers is heavy with customer involvement which helps build a relationship with the jeweller, brand and the final product.
“To go through a process of selecting your own diamond, working with us on design to then handover knowing that it’s specially crafted for you is why we are still in business.”
Perseverance in the industry over time is also about listening to and taking ideas from the consumers. Daniel has noticed a trend arise with engagement rings.
“Most of our handcrafted jewellery are one off pieces but recently we have found that engagement rings could also include fancy cut diamonds or coloured stones,” says Daniel. “Clusters are featured strongly within customer requests along with large classic diamond solitaires.”
Listening to consumer demand shows an openness and flexibility that are key to remaining relevant.
It allows consumers the opportunity to meaningfully connect with the brand as they see their changing tastes reflected, and feel as if they have helped shape its growth over time.
While a strong sense of design and style can be beneficial to your brand, at Natasha Schweitzer, Alex and Natasha advise leaving your ego at the door.
“You need to listen to your consumer and not get caught up in your own ego. If you want a strong identity, with commercially successful pieces, you have to respect that not everyone will always like your designs, so run with the ones that your clients do like and are true to you.”
The new generation focuses on interacting and engaging with their consumer base, gaining input from all directions so they can stay ahead of the curve.
Jane Shadiac at Paul Shadiac Imports states that because of the emergence of the internet, global trends are felt immediately and the consumer demand reflects that.
One way to stay connected in the industry and help identify future trends is by attending overseas trade shows.
“Travelling to international fairs regularly, apart from being a wonderful perk of the industry, is very important in tracking current trends,” says Jane.
The new generation say that staying unique in the industry is about offering a personalised process as well as being receptive to external ideas.
Where to next?
For those individuals emerging from an already established family name brand with a long standing reputation, it is important to consider both the past and present. In these companies, a solid foundation in the industry had already been formed, allowing space and security for the new faces to now forge their own path.
Thanks to the strong foundations of their predecessors, the next generation are making brave choices and creating beautiful pieces to last a lifetime.