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What Is Demi-Fine Jewellery?

By Lynette Kee

 
 

It is human nature to crave options, especially in a world that is constantly evolving, and never more so than now. Hence, as businesses strive to adjust their product offerings to meet the demands of consumers, it’s no surprise that high fashion also comes with a fast fashion counterpart, and the domain of jewellery and accessorising is slowly, but surely, catching up.

On the spectrum of jewellery and accessories, there lies at the one end, fashion jewellery, which tends to be more experimental in terms of design and uses pleated alloys and crystals as alternatives to precious stones, and are sold at lower price ranges. And on the other end, is fine jewellery — often one-of-a-kind pieces created from the finest craftsmanship and precious materials like platinum and 18-carat gold, and precious (and even rare) stones. These, of course, carry hefty price tags befitting their value and quality.

The evolution of fashion has enabled a piece of jewellery to serve a multitude of uses, from warding off evil or bringing good luck (as believed in some cultures) to defining the status of an individual in society. Of the latter, jewellery pieces were popularised by the European nobility of the 17th to 18th centuries and were used to represent social status and wealth, which is why fine jewellery brands are highly coveted. Elizabeth von der Goltz, global buying director at women’s fashion e-tailer Net-a-Porter explained in an interview with T that “the fine jewellery customer is [often] looking to make a significant purchase,” whereas costume and fashion pieces tend to serve as a quick-fix jewellery, thanks to its quirky designs and value. While there is a time and place for each to serve its purpose, there appears to be a gap that’s yet to be fulfilled — a niche market consisting of those who appreciate the finer things in life and crave their accessibility.

Net-a-Porter's global buying director, Elizabeth von der Goltz talks about demi-fine jewellery and what makes it so coveted.
Net-a-Porter's global buying director, Elizabeth von der Goltz talks about demi-fine jewellery and what makes it so coveted.

Enter demi-fine jewellery, which hits the sweet spot between fine and costume jewellery. According to Emily Gordon-Smith, head of fashion at Stylus, a trend research firm, “The demi-fine market has been evolving for the past few years,” she said in a statement to Business of Fashion. “It’s for women in their 20s and 30s, who we call the ‘luxury hunter’ and it’s definitely part [of] the whole trend around self-gifting. Whereas the traditional consumer may have been about the it-bag or the statement shoe, it has now shifted to the area of semi-luxury jewellery.”

Von der Goltz describes the demi-fine consumer to be someone who is “hungry for newness.” She tells T, “Jewellery fanatics love coming to us for a sense of discovery, and the demi-fine category allows her the ability to elevate her everyday look without compromising on style or quality.”

Demi-fine jewellery combines semi-precious stones with a mix of gold (with lower carat weight) and other metals (like gold-plated silver). They are less expensive to produce and in turn, offer a more palatable price point to its consumers. More importantly, demi-fine jewellery still has intrinsic value and is now on the rise as the solution to accessible luxury. These are three of the top-selling demi-fine jewellery lines to get to know.

 

Monica Vinader

Monica Vinader, a British jewellery collector offering bespoke services to private clients in the early 2000s, eventually brought her namesake brand to global prominence when the demand for her style of jewellery design garnered a wider audience. Together with her sister Gabriela, they were one of the firsts few to see the gap between high and fashion jewellery as an opportunity to explore with their jewellery lines. “My desire was always to reach a lot of people," said Vinader in a statement to Net-a-Porter.

Expanding to fine jewellery was never on the cards for Vinader, even after the brand’s community grew larger. Monica Vinader believes that, “People no longer think about keeping jewellery in the safe or saving it for a special occasion. They want something that fits with their everyday life, and our lives nowadays are quite informal”. As Von der Goltz said, “accessibility of everyday jewellery means that our customers are able to have fun with their jewellery – collecting, stacking and expressing themselves.” Personalisation is a huge driver of demi-fine jewellery and Vinader is one of the few brands unabashedly capitalising on this appetite for individuality.

 

Missoma

This London-based jewellery brand was founded in 2008 by Marisa Hordern, CEO and creative director of the brand, who describes the demi-fine jewellery business as “a cottage industry” when she was just starting out. Missoma is a brand that is distinctive for its use of 18-carat gold vermeil. Hordern defines the brand as forward-looking, featuring pieces that offer versatility and interchangeable options. “I was five when my mother bought me a small piece of labradorite and I quickly began spending all my money on crystals and gemstones,” shared Hordern, in an interview with Forbes, on her obsession for gemstones. The brand now has garnered a loyal following that includes the Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, as well as models and actresses like Cindy Crawford and her daughter Kaia Gerber, and Margot Robbie.

“Missoma is at the beginning of a significant growth phase,” shared Hordern, and with the demi-fine jewellery market fast gaining popularity, we hope that Missoma will continue to grow its collection. After all, we can never have too much of a good thing.

 

WWAKE

Sitting as one of Net-a-Porter’s top-selling line, Wwake is a brand driven by minimalistic pieces, crafted in gold and gemstones like opals and diamonds. Its jewellery is subtle yet holds true to enduring qualities found in fine jewellery. In describing its target consumer, Wing Yau, who launched the brand in 2013, said in an interview with Business of Fashion, “[A Wwake customer] wants to invest in quality, heirloom materials, but does not want something that looks ostentatious.” Its visually commanding yet understated jewellery pieces are approachable and instagrammble too, especially for the younger audiences. Prices start at $100.