This year I travelled to BaselWorld – The World Watch and Jewellery Show for my third time to trend forecast for diamond brokers H.Goldie & Co. The show never fails to impress upon a young designer such as myself the sheer magnitude of the jewellery industry and how much competition there is out there. It is no doubt hugely intimidating but at the same time incredibly inspiring.
It serves as an important reminder on how necessary it is to stand out from the crowd not only with the product you are selling but also with how you sell it. The cost of even a small space at Baselworld is astronomical so I am often amazed at how some smaller companies who will spend so much money on the spaces often fall short because of their simple and unmemorable displays. This clearly does not apply to many of the most wealthy companies who will pour hundreds of thousands of pounds in to their spaces. Breitling, for example, always draw crowds with their 7000 square foot booth, consisting of four floors, a bar and an enormous aquarium filled with a shoal of silvery fish. The effect is phenomenal, bringing life to the watch hall which after hours of walking around can sometimes feel a tad cold and monotonous. Though obviously the cost and technical challenge make this sort of booth unachievable by most companies. However, it is still possible to draw in an audience with much simpler techniques than those harnessed by Breitling.
Links of London probably had one of my favourite displays; recreating a summery scene from a London park using fake grass and flowers. The display appeared a small oasis from the hall and gave a distinct feeling about the company and their ethos which I felt many of the other companies lacked. Though mainly it just injected a bit of fun and lightness into proceedings, which sometimes in the show is forgotten about and taken all a bit too seriously. Jewellery is and should be fun, so I think by highlighting this, the company stood out in a very big way from the predictability and pomposity of many of the higher brow brands.
Jewellery wise I found the most memorable of the pieces were those which didn’t just focus on aesthetics and trends but incorporating ingenuity in to their work. Belgian company Armas impressed me with their Expanding Magic line. The line is made of rings and bangles that can expand to any size without the need for sizing. Thus eliminating the awkward moment of a man trying to figure out his girlfriend’s ring size and messing it up by sneaking out one of her rings or trying to measure her finger in some unsubtle fashion. It also means that as the years go on and your fingers sausage up the ring can go up in size with you with: no fuss.
Trend-wise I noticed a strong underwater theme with brands from Stephen Webster to Carrera y Carrera using motifs from fish, starfish, scales and shells in their pieces. Stingray skin has also made its impact in the jewellery world with a much stronger presence at the shows than I have seen before (much to my delight). There is undoubtedly a heavier mix of precious metals with other materials, the incorporation of rubber, rope and leather lightening the load of the rising cost of metal.
All in all I found the show this year as exciting and exhausting as ever. Baselworld never fails to impress on the luxury front but I do think the show often misses out on a lot of young talent due to the costs of spaces at the show. I think the show would bene?t enormously on the creativity front if they ran some sort of new businesses scheme offering discounts to promising companies in their early days. This would inject some much needed life back in to the show and stop the cycle of already big businesses staying on top and not allowing any room for the younger generation growing within the luxury realm.
Tired and overwhelmed by beautiful shiny things I am happy to be back to working on my own collection in London. With Baselworld almost finished for another year I can catch up on my favourite bit of the show; reading through all the free jewellery magazines that I could fit in to my suitcase.
Rachel Boston is a London born and based Jewellery designer and maker. She graduated with a degree in Jewellery Design from the prestigious Central Saint Martins and a diploma in Diamond Grading from the GIA. She is currently working on a new collection to be released at IJL.