Steve Spear, a freelance editor, journalist and lecturer who specialises in the UK fashion, watch and jewellery market points to the fact that the many and varied independent retailers are the driving force behind a hugely creative and ever more sophisticated sector.
It’s a trade that occupies every level of the British retail landscape, from the major department stores and quirky conceptual retailers to still-maturing online ventures and, of course, a healthy smattering of internationally recognisable standalone shops.
But in jewellery, possibly more than any other sector, it really is the independent retailer that provides the lynchpin. The sector is marked out by fiercely individual family businesses with generations of experience that are genuine landmarks of local lives, as well as a hefty slew of newly minted design-heavy stores, mostly operating in off-centre urban spaces and punching far above their square footage in terms of sales.
Between them these indies occupy every point of the retail spectrum, with the refined and respectable at one end and the vibrant upstart at the other. What they have in common is a deep knowledge of their trade and a startling variety in terms of product. From branded jewellery to bench-made bespoke pieces, they provide the UK consumer with an incredible breadth of choice.
Acknowledgment: i2i Events Group report on “The UK Jewellery Market Opportunity”
And that choice is becoming more varied all the time. If you wear away an inch of your shoe leather treading around the UK’s jewellers you will encounter a wildly creative mix of precious metals, pearls, gems and semiprecious materials along with incredibly inventive plastics, resin, wood and, frankly, pretty much anything else you can imagine adorning a wrist, finger, ear or neck. The lifeblood of this creativity is, of course, new product.
The UK consumer is looking at jewellery anew and now asking for more design input, more value and more choice. This means it is more urgent than ever before that retailers deliver difference, newness and excitement.