“I’m seeing a new wave of tougher, cooler and more creative jewellery” says Patti Worth, jewellery and accessories buyer for Matches Fashion – the multi-brand luxury boutique based in stores around London and online. Modeling her favourite pieces from the Matches online platform, Patti talks to us about the demand for coloured gemstones, the rise of the ‘cult jewellery brand’ and why you should start thinking of your jewellery as an essential part of your wardrobe.
You started out in fashion. How did you get into fine jewellery buying and was it easy to make the transition?
I saw an opening for fine jewellery at another online retailer and thought I’d give it a go. They offered me the job and I fell in love with the industry. Once I had decided to pursue a career in fine jewellery, I enrolled on a gemmology course. When you are buying precious stones, it is important to have that knowledge behind you.
People said fine jewellery wouldn’t sell online. Were they wrong?
There is a stigma around selling jewellery online because people think it is expensive. But fine jewellery has become much more accessible. There is a new wave of jewellers creating what we call “fashion fine” jewellery – the equivalent to ready-to-wear in fashion. Our clients will buy a Maria Tash single earring in the same way they would buy a pair of jeans. There is also much more publicity around fine jewellery thanks to cult brands such as Alison Lou, Spinelli Kilcollin and Delfina Delettrez who are making jewellery desirable and cool. These designers are public figures, they are known globally. Sometimes the only way for customers to get hold of these pieces is online.
How do you give your customers the confidence to buy fine jewellery online?
It can be difficult to translate the beauty of jewellery online, but with the right photography and the right information it is possible to do so. We work closely with our jewellery designers to understand the essence of their brand and we style the pieces accordingly. There are online stylists on hand to help customers with their buying decisions or customers can organise for pieces to be called into the store or our private atelier.
What are the trends that you are seeing in fine jewellery at the moment?
There has been a big shift from pavé diamonds to coloured gemstones. Whilst most brands still have pieces you can stack, I am seeing a lot more statement jewellery that can be worn on it’s own, designers such as Elie Top are leading the way with this. Pieces that are versatile and can be worn in more that one way are really popular. Trends that have derived from the catwalk such as the single earring and chokers seem to be slowing because it is not such a great investment for everyday. I’m seeing tougher, cooler and more creative pieces over clean and classic.
You mention coloured gemstones. Are there any stones that are particularly popular right now?
We are seeing a lot of semi-precious stones such as tourmaline, turquoise and lapis lazuli. Some designers are using colour as a prominent part of their collection such as Irene Neuwirth, others are using it to add accents such as Anissa Kermiche and Raphael Canot.
What do you think is driving this trend?
Our customers have responded well to colour because it is more individual. If people are investing in fine jewellery, they want people to say ‘those are beautiful earrings where did you get them from’, not ‘those are beautiful earrings, my friend has the same pair’. Colour gives people the opportunity to create a unique identity.
Who is your fine jewellery client?
It used to be men buying for women but we have see a huge uplift in women buying jewellery for themselves. This is happening across the jewellery business as a whole. We never underestimate our customer’s intelligence and savviness. They know what is out there, they shop around and they want pieces that are going to last. They are smart, powerful, women and it is our responsibility to give them the pieces that they deserve and can spend their hard earned money on.
What occasions are they buying jewellery for?
They are buying pieces for work, holidays, everyday. They want jewellery that works with their lifestyle. Our business is all about wardrobe building and people are approaching jewellery in the same way. They are thoughtful with their purchases. It is not about buying a piece for a season and then throwing it to the back of your jewellery box. It’s about building your collection, one piece at a time.
Tell us about the jewellery you wear?
Each piece I own has a special meaning; this Diane Kordas ring reminds me of my first paycheque, this gold and diamond antique ring was handed down to me from my mum & this ring was from a trip to India. If I want to change my jewellery “look” for evening or an event I’ll add some costume jewellery, otherwise I wear the same pieces every day.
What would your advice be for someone buying fine jewellery for the first time?
Go to the store, try it on, wear it around the shop. When you realise how strong these pieces are you will have confidence that fine jewellery is a good investment for your wardrobe.