THE SHE-CONOMY EFFECT
How powerful females reshape the jewelry industry
In 2018, female empowerment feels more alive than ever. Movements such as #MeToo, International Women’s Day and the Women’s Marches are sweeping the globe, while the stats show that the tide is slowly turning. Compared with previous generations, more women today are active across the workforce and have the hard-earned cash to show for it.
While true gender parity may still be two centuries away (according the World Economic Forum’s 2017 report), the upward trend of financially independent women is beginning to reshape the economy – an effect dubbed the ‘SHEconomy’. In the jewelry industry, this has given rise to the megatrend of women buying more jewelry for themselves. No more wishing and waiting..
Rewind a generation or two, and fine jewelry was most often a gift received on special occasions – engagement, motherhood, birthdays and Valentine’s Day. But today’s independent ladies have other ideas in mind, seeking out contemporary jewels to treat themselves in an empowered act of self-gifting. With the number of working women in OECD countries jumping from 54% to 71% over the past three decades, and a quarter of women in America and China now the main household breadwinner, it is no surprise that the industry wants to capture the imagination –
and consumer spend – of this growing demographic.
In the same way that modern working women might indulge in a new handbag or pair of shoes, they are also buying jewelry with thrilling spontaneity, either as a sparkling reminder of an achievement or simply because they can. Instead of saving up for one momentous piece to mark a significant milestone, they tend to self-purchase more pieces at lower prices. The jewelry industry has responded to demand, with an explosion of smaller brands and independent designers who create covetable jewels at a mid-range – and suitably seductive – price point.
While quality and craftsmanship remain important, classic heirloom designs are giving way to pieces that are younger in spirit, more accessible and better suited to a fashion-forward power woman’s whim. Breaking all the rules of fine jewelry, a growing number of exciting designers are unleashing their creativity with pieces that reflect this new woman’s style – a style that is unique, confident and resolutely feminine.
As this influential new woman continues to mold the jewelry industry in her vision, fresh design trends are emerging. The statuesque Obelisk, for example, is a striking shape redolent of Ancient Egypt, an imposing yet intriguing form that emerges from an alchemy of strength and luxuriant femininity. Its clean lines inspire long, slender pendants, or it is easily converted into a modernist ring or hoop earrings, finished with striking gems.
The power ring has returned as a bold and dramatic alternative to stacking rings. Eye-catching and extravagant, with stunning hero stones and imaginative forms, this design speaks to a new feeling of power and status, while also referencing predecessors of the modern power woman, such as the socialites and style leaders of the Fifties and Sixties. This cocktail ring harbors secret super powers that emanate strength in a supremely sophisticated way.
Meanwhile, the wrist becomes warrior-like, as dainty diamond bracelets morph into statement cuffs. Reminiscent of Coco Chanel’s enamel, gem-set Maltese cross bangles or Nancy Cunard’s African ivory fighting bangles, this cuff is fit for women forging their own paths. Theatrical and more expressive than ever, the only limit is the designer’s imagination and the spirit of the woman wearing it.
In this new era of female empowerment, jewelry makers are faced with the opportunity to create beautiful, inspiring pieces that capture the attention of these independent women. Now is the time to write a new chapter in adornment.