10 Jewels for the Self-Purchasing Female Consumer

TrendsApr 28, 2017

10 Jewels for the Self-Purchasing Female Consumer

Designed for women by women, meet a group of jewelry designers who are finding success by appealing to the customer who buys jewelry for herself.

National Jeweler asked 10 independent female designers to pick a piece from their collections ideal for the female self-purchasing customer.

New York--Two groups have risen concurrently in the fine jewelry industry over the past several years: the self-purchasing female customer and the female jewelry designer.

And their mutual ascent isn’t a coincidence.

“We don't necessarily target this consumer group, at least consciously,” jewelry designer Jennie Kwon said of the self-purchasing female consumer. “But I think it happens organically, as I myself am a self-purchasing woman and ultimately, my designs reflect what I think is beautiful and what I love to wear.”

Kwon said that self-purchasers make up the majority of her clientele, while designer Marla Aaron revealed that 95 percent of her customers are self-purchasing.

“I started the collection because there were pieces of jewelry that I wanted for myself and I couldn't find,” said Aaron, who has a made a name for herself with her unique fine jewelry locks combining precious metals with functional hardware.

“Jewelry is intimate and deeply personal, and it makes complete sense that women would like to reward themselves with pieces that they have especially chosen and that reflect who they are,” she explained.

There also are clear benefits in a consumer picking out a piece of jewelry according to their own specific taste: it eliminates the stress that comes with gifting, particularly at a luxury price point, and the letdown that comes with being on the receiving end of an unwanted present.

These are things many female designers have experienced from a consumer standpoint.

“I've always had a strong sense of what I love to wear in jewelry,” designer Elisa Solomon said. “My husband jokes that he can never buy me jewelry, and it really is true. I love that women know what they want and go for it.”

When consumers buy for themselves, it also significantly reduces the rate of return.

“I prefer for a purchase to be by a self-purchaser because it ensures that the customer will end up with a piece that they truly love,” designer Selin Kent confirmed.

Ann Ko, the designer of Liven Co. agreed, saying, “Satisfaction has a higher value than surprise.”

Female Buying Power
According to the United States Department of Labor’s “Women in the Labor Force in 2010” report, women made up 47 percent of the total American workforce that year.

With more women working than ever before, self-purchasing is on the rise.

In an article published last month on National Jeweler on the “midult”--Generation X females

between the ages of 35 and 55--Jewelers of America’s Director of Public Relations and Events Amanda Gizzi said of the demographic, “She has been in the workforce for over fifteen years and is established in her career. She makes her own money and isn’t afraid to spend some of it on herself.”
“Satisfaction has a higher value than surprise.”--Ann Ko, Liven Co.
Designer Priyanka Kedia of Ayva Jewelry agreed.

“(Women) are transforming the marketplace,” she said. “They are no longer waiting for their men or partners to buy them jewelry. They now buy jewelry as tangible evidence of their successes and as a reward for their hard work.”

Part of this consumer trend is due to the availability of fine jewelry at non-exorbitant price points.

Last month, Marty Hurwitz, CEO of MVI Marketing, told National Jeweler that the typical retail price range for jewelry self-purchasers was between $95 and $995, which aligned with the results of a survey National Jeweler and Jewelers of America conducted last year in which jewelers confirmed that outside of the bridal market, their average price per unit sold was under $1,000.

Delicate Jewelry
Attainability remains key in fueling the self-purchasing phenomenon, and the delicate jewelry trend has been instrumental in keeping costs low, proving itself a mainstay in the market.

Designer Wing Yau of fine jewelry brand Wwake has been a stand-out in the layering, delicate jewelry arena, carving out a distinct, minimalist aesthetic focused on tiny opals, diamonds and gemstones.

“It’s a new age of jewelry purchasing,” Yau said. “Our customers are independent and thoughtful--they’re not waiting for men to buy them nice things anymore. More than anything, they do it for themselves.”

Kwon’s jewelry also is of a delicate, stacking nature, with plenty of options that retail for under $1,000.

“We've found that the pricing and aesthetic of our pieces are at sort of a sweet spot for the self-purchasing woman,” she said. “The unique-yet-wearable design of our pieces, as well as the luxurious feel of them despite their somewhat dainty scale, really resonates with this particular demographic.”

Brands today are relying on the exact opposite mentality of the “keep-it-in-the-safe” attitude of generations past, creating pieces that function as an effortless uniform, appropriate to wear in any situation.

“Everyday, flexible pieces are a priority for busy modern women,” Ko emphasized. “A fine piece that goes with everything, can be dressed up or down, and still offers great style is worth buying.”

A Cultural Shift
As more women and men delay marriage or put it off altogether, several designers stressed that fine jewelry no longer needs to be a purchase relegated to engagements and anniversaries, saying that instead, women are marking any number of life events with a self-purchase.

“Our core customer is a self-purchasing woman who buys herself jewelry in honor of her own milestones--usually little earrings or rings that they can wear every day as a sweet reminder of their achievements,” Yau said.

Meanwhile Page Neal, the co-founder and one half of the design duo behind fine jewelry brand Bario Neal, is looking far beyond her brand's bridal customer, hoping to engage with their audience through all aspects of life.

“We believe that our lives are rich with experiences of all kinds: triumphs and sadness and joy,” Neal said. “Monumental events and rites of passage that invoke our humanity are not limited to engagements, weddings and anniversaries. Jewelry has the power to mark these moments with a reminder that you can both wear throughout your life and pass on later as a token of strength, resilience and fortitude. This is the time to treat and celebrate yourself.”
“It’s a new age of jewelry purchasing. Our customers are independent and thoughtful--they’re not waiting for men to buy them nice things anymore." -- Wing Yau, Wwake
Designer Ariel Gordon also feels that fine jewelry is the ideal product to sate the self-purchasing need for an ever-evolving consumer.

“There is a new, more mindful shopper who places a premium on products that offer craftsmanship, usefulness and versatility,” she said.

But Ayva Jewelry’s Kedia adheres to an even more democratic philosophy when it comes to buying oneself jewelry.

“The best part about self-purchasing is that you don’t need a reason to treat yourself,” she said.

Connecting with the Female Self-Purchaser
When asked how brands were directly targeting the self-purchaser, designers’ answers all had something in common: an emphasis on social media.

“On Bario Neal social media, we have a weekly post titled ‘More to Celebrate,’” said Bario Neal's Manager and Design Administrator Sarah Maltais. “Our hashtag #moretocelebrate is our call to remember that rites of passage extend beyond weddings, engagements, and anniversaries. We think we should honor our own personal struggles and accomplishments.

“We engage our customers with the question, what do you want to celebrate? And what ring stack would you choose as a physical reminder? (Examples of) past customer commemorations have included finishing graduate school, submitting a first film to a festival, paying off consumer debt, quitting a job to travel and write, finishing a dissertation and PhD program, and buying a first house,” she said.

Brands specifically noted the visual appeal of Instagram and how showing their jewelry worn or photographed in an aesthetically pleasing way helped customers relate to the product.

“We use inspiring images and realistic photographs on Instagram to ensure that our brand is both relatable and accessible,” Yau said. “My goal is to be with our customers every step of the way.”

Ultimately, independent female designers have the direct advantage of understanding the self-purchasing demographic because they are a part of it.

Kent emphasized, “My collection is not only designed by a woman for woman, but inspired by them.”
Ashley Davisis the senior editor, fashion at National Jeweler, covering all things related to design, style and trends.

The Latest

EditorsMay 25, 2022
7 Standout Tiaras in Sotheby’s Platinum Jubilee Exhibition

Senior Editor Brecken Branstrator chooses the pieces she’d most want to see in person.

MajorsMay 25, 2022
Anne Hathaway Is Bulgari’s Newest Ambassador

The actress joins Zendaya and others in a new advertising campaign.

IndependentsMay 25, 2022
The Mexican Shack to Close After 47 Years

Owner Steve Delzio shares his thoughts on retirement after nearly five decades in the jewelry industry.

Brought to you by
Dive into GIA’s Pearl Expertise

When it comes to knowing the identity and quality of your pearls, count on GIA as your independent pearl experts.

IndependentsMay 25, 2022
Designer Theo Fennell Has Written a Memoir

“I Fear for This Boy” takes readers through the ups and downs of his business and is available for pre-order now.

Weekly QuizMay 19, 2022
This Week’s Quiz
Test your knowledge of the latest jewelry news with this quick test.
Take the Quiz
IndependentsMay 25, 2022
MVEye, Wedding Report Partner on New Jewelry Research Platform

“Today’s Wedding Jewelry Consumer” shares data about engagement ring market size, lab-grown and natural diamonds, and more.

ColumnistsMay 24, 2022
The PR Adviser: 10 Questions to Contemplate

Columnist Lilian Raji wants to walk you through the customer journey. But first, she’d like you to answer a few questions.

Brought to you by
A.I. Grading is Changing Conversations at the Retail Counter

Advanced technology levels the playing field, helping jewelers give customers what they want.

Events & AwardsMay 24, 2022
8 Gold Jewelry Designers Unveil New Platinum Designs

Several Couture brands have partnered with Platinum Guild International ahead of the jewelry trade show.

Lab-GrownMay 24, 2022
Kendra Scott Unveils Lab-Grown Engagement Ring Collection

The jewelry company is moving into bridal just a month after branching out into the watch world.

SourcingMay 24, 2022
State of the Diamond Industry: Where Does Supply Go From Here?

The 2008 economic crisis, COVID-19, and sanctions on Russian goods have set the stage for an interesting decade for natural diamond supply.

Events & AwardsMay 24, 2022
WJA to Host Diversity Keynote at New Las Vegas Breakfast Event

The Generating Community Impact fundraiser on June 11 will feature Karine Bah Tahé of Blue Level Training.

WatchesMay 23, 2022
Steven Kaiser, Watch Industry Veteran and Beloved Mentor, Dies at 68

Kaiser, whose illustrious career spanned decades, died suddenly on Friday.

IndependentsMay 23, 2022
Long’s Jewelers to Open New Location

The family-owned jeweler is relocating its Braintree, Massachusetts, store to a new space.

IndependentsMay 23, 2022
Luxury Goods Veteran Olivier Stip Joins Chicago Jeweler CD Peacock

He will step into the retailer’s newly created role of chief development officer.

GradingMay 23, 2022
Gem-A Launches Digital Entry-Level Gemology Course

GemIntro is meant to give a broad introduction to gems and gemology.

Recorded WebinarsMay 20, 2022
Watch: Responsible Sourcing and the Gold Supply Chain

Three industry experts discuss “recycled” gold vs. mined, their challenges and benefits, and how jewelers can navigate the area.

FinancialsMay 20, 2022
Richemont’s 2022 Jewelry Sales in the Americas Nearly Double

Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Buccellati put on stellar performances.

AuctionsMay 20, 2022
Piece of the Week: ‘Birds in Flight’ by Oscar Heyman

The New York jeweler made this incredible, colorful Art Deco bracelet featuring tropical birds in 1927.

SurveysMay 19, 2022
5 Predictions for Jewelry Retail in the Second Half of 2022

From a slowdown in sales growth to rising costs, Fruchtman Marketing outlines its expectations for the second half of the year.

MajorsMay 19, 2022
As It Nears 75, Here’s How Grandview Klein Stays Competitive

Once a part of Julius Klein Group, the diamond company combines its direct supply and cutting expertise with a keen eye to the future.

SourcingMay 19, 2022
De Beers’ Rough Sales Up 21% So Far This Year

One analyst cited rising diamond prices and the sanctions on Alrosa as contributing factors.

CollectionsMay 19, 2022
Brilliant Earth Collaborates with Jade Trau

The two have partnered on a capsule collection.

MajorsMay 19, 2022
Jewelers Mutual Adds 2 Industry Veterans to Its Board

John A. Green of retailer Lux Bond & Green and Niveet Nagpal of Omi Privé have joined the board of directors as of May 18.

FinancialsMay 18, 2022
Watches of Switzerland’s Jewelry Sales More Than Doubled in Q4

The retailer also said demand for Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Audemars Piguet watches continues to exceed its supply.

AuctionsMay 18, 2022
Jewels from Bette Midler Are Headed to Bonhams

The auction house’s upcoming sale also includes collections from American heiresses.

IndependentsMay 18, 2022
Jeweler Lewis Baribault Celebrates 50th Work Anniversary

The Connecticut jeweler reflected on five decades in the industry and what the future holds for the family business.


This site uses cookies to give you the best online experience. By continuing to use & browse this site, we assume you agree to our Privacy Policy