Handmade jewellery
Handmade jewellery

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Brand names vs custom made

Handmade, highstreet or brand jewellery?

Estimated reading time : 4 minutes

Well-known companies like Cartier, Tiffany, Louis Vuitton and Chow Tai Fook are luxury market leaders, but are their marketing strategies and deals with online platforms a match for innovative, unique and often personalised handmade pieces?

The jewellery market - key figures

Worldwide revenue from the jewellery market is currently at 298 billion dollars and is expected to grow to $330 billion by 2026.

India is the leading market, followed by China and then the USA.

88% of sales in the jewellery market are on non-luxury goods.

Unsurprisingly, online sales are expected to rise to 18-21% by 2025.

Back in 2014, the jewellery market was expected to veer toward the same internationalized, 'fast-fashion' way as that of apparel: with international brands predicted to increase their market share from 20% to 80%, (growing three times faster than the market as a whole) thanks to trend reponsive development, marketing channels and brand affiliation.

In real life, complete with covid complications and sustainability concerns, branded jewellery is likely to account for only 30% of the market by 2025. But still, the trend toward branded jewellery is set to encroach on non-branded or artisanal sales.

Whatsmore, computer aided design, 3D printing and laser technology increase accuracy of intricate, complex designs at a faster production rate for large companies who have cash to spare on tech, a world away from the handmade-with-love world of artisans like Dakota Rae Dust and Le biso pictured below.

What factors should be considered for the jewellery market of the future?

Conflict free

Although 88% of sales in the jewellery market are on non-luxury goods, jewel consumption is on the rise.

Synthetic or lab-grown diamonds avoid the ethical problems often encountered with naturally formed diamonds. Increasingly popular, especially among the younger generations (read more here), they offer a cheaper yet identical alternative to mined diamonds (between $300-500 per carat compared to $4,000 per carat). You can see some examples here and here.

Their eco-friendliness depends on the supply of the huge of amounts of energy required - 510kg of CO per polished carat (according to a possibly biased report from the Diamond Producers Association, who represent De Beers, Alrosa and Rio Tinto), but even so it's probably best to look for transparent companies using renewable energy if you can.

For men

As well as gender-fluid designs, more traditional items like cufflinks, tie bars, signet rings and other jewellery for men are boosting the market.


Awareness of environmental and social issues are another growth-inducing factor. As well as conflict free gems seen above, interest in upcycled or recycled materials is also on the rise.

Why are clients buying more branded jewellery?

Here we are thinking about something as personal as an engagement or wedding ring, anniversary or birthday present and for which we are inclined to bend the usual barriers of price and delivery time for the all important individuality and quality. So at first sight, personalized and artisanal should win every time, right? Wrong.

It's all in the name...

McKinsey found three distinct types of consumer behind the rise in brand popularity in the jewellery market:

  • Those who wish to flaunt their recent wealth (or 'new money') with well-known brands.
  • Those who use established, credible and trusted brand names to show their elevated lifestyle (or 'emerging market').
  • Younger clients using brand image to both express themselves and fulfill their emerging personality (self-realization).

And so, international brands with strong identities, trusted names and reliable distribution are gobbling up the market of smaller, local artisans.

Why buy handmade jewellery?

Although the advantages of buying from local artisans is becoming clearer (click here to read more), it would seem the small artisan has very little artillery against the all-mighty psychographic marketing and brand identity, not to mention high-tech manufacturing.

But what they do have, intrinsically, is what international brands strive to imitate: individuality, uniqueness and quality.

They are unique and more sustainable, not just for the planet, but also for local economies (more here). Materials are just as varied as the inspiration behind them: in the few clichés on this page, we can see paper, recycled clothes, even tyre inner tubes being used alongside gold, feathers, resin, precious gems, silver, steel, ceramic and copper.

In terms of price, artisans can offer handmade jewellery at prices to rival mass-produced pieces: FB PaperArt (top left), Dakota Rae Dust (bottom far left)are colourful examples of affordable, unique handmade pieces.

Some high-end artisans also have the undisputed advantage of exceptional, truly personalized pieces with real character handmade to measure like Eily O Connell (cartier comparison), Le biso (main picture above and bottom left) or MAHTE bijoux (bottom right).

Those in between offer high quality, unique pieces which can be customized at similar prices to high steet jewellery stores. For an idea of the range, type and sustainability on offer have a look at Ila Bella (top far left), Madeinmy (bottom far right), Merveilles (top far right) or H2 (top right).

To give you an idea of price comparison for the luxury pieces - the Cartier 'Alliance Love Pavée' ring below is 7 850 euros. Eily O Connell's 'Oyster reef' (middle image) is 4 118 euros and 'bague martelée' by Le biso is a very reasonable 150 euros - which goes to show that price is not an indicator of uniqueness.

How do an increasingly international offer, online sales, new technology and brand affiliation affect handmade jewellery?

So, here we are in a rapidly changing, increasingly international market wondering how on earth small artisans are going to be able to keep up.

This is how - however clever the marketing strategy and however hi-tech the manufacturing process, big brands will never be able to match small artisans using local materials for sustainability (more here), a big concern the future market. Plus, they will never be able to make a 100% tailor-made piece, inspired by the wearer or a shared experience.

Of course, brand affiliation is a strong pull, but let's have a little faith in our consumers as being capable of calling a spade a spade, seeing the distinction and making a conscious decision to move toward supporting local artisans, not just for ethical reasons, but also for the quality, originality and bespoke nature of their pieces.

And to withstand diverse and persuasive marketing channels, we have natifcreatif : ) so have a click and see what jewellery artisans are near you!

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