Would you like to sail through the world of luxury? Then read Anthony’s blog Baubleicious on Forbes.com Learn about the most rare diamonds offered at auction, or the latest mechanical movement in watches. How about the latest news on the happenings of the top jewelry brands? Anthony has always been at the forefront reporting on technology and design and it continues to be a pleasure to read his posts. He is, in his own words, on a continuous luxury jewelry beat.
Josette: What drew you to the luxury market?
Anthony: I think it was mostly curiosity. After working on the trade side of the jewelry industry I became interested in the luxury jewelry and watch brands where I had no real access. I wanted to know more about these brands. I wanted to know why their jewelry and watches commanded such high prices and how they develop such a strong following around the world. I wanted to learn more about the techniques and artistry that went into creating rare jewelry, the materials that were used and how these items and brands were marketed. These brands also had strong stories that weave history, culture and celebrity to an international audience. I wanted to know how they managed to attract a mass audience while selling to a select few.
Josette: What are the largest influences you have seen in the luxury market since you started reporting on it?
Anthony: It depends on what aspect of the market you’re talking about. When it comes to wealth and demand in recent years that meant the astounding growth in the China luxury market. I learned by covering the luxury market that these brands live an almost nomadic existence, chasing wealth wherever it is and then fighting to become the first in a market and to make the biggest splash. The China luxury market is now slowing and these brands are returning to the US in big ways.
Technology has become a huge influence. In the watch industry that influence might seem surprising to some. A former colleague, Bill Shuster made me aware of this. In the watch industry, the mechanical- and micro-technology that is used to create timepieces is every bit as advanced as what is happening in the digital space. This is among the top reasons that the watch industry has been able to thrive by selling a product that isn’t needed anymore—along with their ability to market their products and brands.
Digital Media has meant a sea change in how luxury brands do business. It used to be a top down marketing formula but with social media consumers have largely leveled the playing field. Luxury brands are skilled marketers and storytellers and have been adept at using social media. What they are struggling with is eCommerce, particularly in the watch industry where counterfeiting is a real problem. There’s an experience that comes with buying a luxury product that can’t be replicated online.
Josette: You have a big following in the global luxury market. How would you advise smaller jewelry brands to begin expanding into international markets?
Anthony: That’s a tough nut to crack. I think it’s important to attend Baselworld and the September Hong Kong Gem & Jewellery Fair. These are the two largest and most important tradeshows in the world and they are far different experiences. You can certainly meet people there. Finding quality firms (with the emphasis on quality) that truly understand your brand and have relationships with retail is extremely difficult. There are people who promise the world but can’t deliver. Finding these retailers yourself is even harder.
With the internet and social media you really have access to the world. If you’re good at telling your story and presenting your product online, I think people will find you.
I think the easiest market to enter is London. There’s an infrastructure of PR people, marketers and other professionals in place that can help, particularly on the luxury end. And there are many retail outlets, big and small, looking for product. The city is one of the world’s top tourist attractions and one of the top places in the world where the wealthy settle. It’s a true international luxury marketplace.
For anyone wanting to enter the difficult China market I would recommend Frank & Label, which has years of experience in China working with independent jewelers. They also provide exhibition space for independent brands at the September Hong Kong Fair. For the rest Europe I may decide to get into this business, provided I can find the right partner. There is a need to fill.
Josette: You cover a diverse realm of subjects, what is your favorite?
If I could earn a living covering jewelry and watch auctions, I would. The stories are among the most interesting, the auctions themselves have a dramatic theater-like ambiance that plays to my strength as a writer, and the travel is interesting. Plus, it is a seasonal industry so I could do a better job of scheduling my workload, unlike now where I’m always scrambling to keep ahead.
Thank you Anthony, I have always been a fan.