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The Future of the Jewellery Sector: Seeking New Languages (I)

16 December, 2013

JORG (Association of Jewellers, Silversmiths, Watchmakers and Gem Makers of Catalonia)

Creativity, tradition and ‘brand Barcelona’ are tools the jewellery sector can use to inject new life into a market that’s been hit by the fall in domestic consumption.

It is well-known that periods of financial crisis are not ideal for business in general and even more so in the case of the jewellery sector. In Catalonia, professionals and designers are aware of this reality and are seeking groundbreaking new ways to adapt.

Concrete, titanium, leather, cardboard, plastic and porcelain are just some of the materials which feature in contemporary jewellery design and aim to adapt to purchasing budgets that in Catalonia have been falling year on year since the current economic recession began.

The president of the Association of Jewellers, Silversmiths, Watchmakers and Gem Makers of Catalonia (JORGC), Francesc Fayos, knows all too well the challenges facing the sector and says that the search for a distinct language and emblem for the professionals who work under the umbrella of the Barcelona brand is a project that requires a wholehearted effort. “We must be capable of creating our own language. Indeed, there is already a particular formula for Mediterranean jewellery which we can
identify and which is, frankly, exportable”.

Young jewellers keen to set up their own business, designers who experiment with more competitive materials and family businesses that are adapting to new consumer behaviour are examples of the work the main players in the jewellery sector in Catalonia are doing.

In figures

This economic activity posted sales of €317 million in 2012. Although that figure was around 16% down on the previous year’s, the Association predicts that 2013 will close with a smaller fall.

If the calculations are met, this will be due to the effort the sector is making on various fronts. One of them is e-commerce. Over 58% of companies have invested in online marketing activities for their products and services. This commitment is matched by the work that half of the businesses in this field are doing to expand overseas. “Going international with your own language and making a name for yourself on foreign markets can also be a driver of domestic consumption,” Fayos explains, emphasising once again the sector’s ability to articulate its own language for jewellery in our country, which can furthermore generate expectations among local consumers.

“Although we often say the market is wise and knows what it wants, I think that consumers expect us to come up with jewellery designs and products that will seduce them,” says the JORGC president. In this regard, Fayos calls on businesses to be proactive and match their own, distinctive offer to a consumer who, beyond precious
materials, today also considers a piece of jewellery to be a work of art.

Valuable shoppers

There is no doubt that this reality can already be seen in the purchasing habits of tourists who come to Barcelona and focus a good part of their leisure activity on buying clothes, accessories and jewellery. “Thanks to that, part of the sector is seeing a rise in activity despite the current context. However, we are talking about a number of very particular areas and which we could identify as Barcelona and outlying commercial hubs such as the Costa Brava, Tarragona and Reus. There, attracting tourists with a high purchasing power benefits the sale of jewellery products. However, at the same time, in areas that depend solely on domestic consumption, the crisis is making itself clearly felt,” says the head of the profesional jewellers’ association.

Powerful source

“There is no question of us not having professionals of a very good level. Their know-how can be exported around the world. On the one hand there are young people with a huge creative capacity and on the other there are family businesses which are clear examples of excellence,” Francesc Fayos says in response to a question about the future of the profession. In this sense, he believes there are currently two different types of new professionals: young designers coming out of training schools, including the school run by JORGC itself, who are thinking above all about creating and distributing their designs i.e., jewellery entrepreneurs. Then there are the next generations of traditional jewellery families who are preparing to take over the family business. “Given that, we know we have a challenge and at the same time a priority ahead of us, which is to find how to match the demand for professionals with a jewellery business to the professionals who are being trained. This is a balance we are still trying to get right,” the JORGC president said.

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