Luxury Surviving History: Investment Worthy Fine Jewellery
- Jul 03, 2020
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A trade as old as age, why has jewellery survived through civilizations, wars, diseases and natural disasters? These precious shiny materials have been documented since before the glorious Egyptian dynasty to the Russian Tsars. What did these rulers know that we too, want to follow?
Throughout history, jewellery purchases have been motivated by nobility, status, celebration and love. In modern times, they are also purchased for self-indulgence and self-identity. The positive sentiments that come with jewellery provides hope and uplifts one’s mood. Illustrating this phenomenon is the trend of increasing engagements during recessions and wartime. History has shown that jewellery has survived throughout time and its demand continues to rise.
Don’t get me wrong - I am not just talking about the rich. This applies to everyone, including those struggling to stay afloat. It’s only a matter of how big your share of the slice is. Haven’t you heard of at least one tale of how your ancestors kept them as a safe haven, where it actually saved them in great times of need?
I remember my great grandmother who lived through World War 2 - she wasn’t rich but she was wise enough to save whatever she could in order to buy a small gold coin. Over time, 1 gold coin became 2, then 3, and so on... When war broke out, the currency used became obsolete overnight. Thankfully, she had these gold coins that retained its value and demand. In fact, its value went up.
While the more affluent bought more than just gold, such as diamonds, coloured gemstones and pearls, they are actually not spending, but transferring their liquidity to a safer form of investment. Jewellery is a great way to do that and throughout history, in times of crisis, that has often been the case.
Illustration of Hedy Lamarr
Have you heard of Hedy Lamarr? She is the legendary actress who actually developed the technology that WIFI and Bluetooth was built upon. Her first marriage was to Fritz Mandl, a wealthy Austrian munitions manufacturer who sold arms to the Nazis. She was so unhappy in her marriage that she planned her own escape from this powerful man. She had nothing but her jewellery sewn into her coat when she fled on a bicycle. It was literally all she took. She used her jewellery to pay for her survival, including her journey to Hollywood, where she soon became one of the greatest Hollywood stars in history.
So why has jewellery survived through thick and thin, in sickness and in health, through poverty and wealth? Please allow me to share with you my family’s personal experience over 4 generations.
Jewellery made of gold, diamonds, gemstones are assets that actually have a value. The hardy nature of the material allows it to last a lifetime. They don’t depreciate during wars or pandemics. In fact, during such times, it’s a safe haven many turn to, causing an increase in demand for it.
They are generally small and thus, portable. Moving and storing this investment is not difficult. In fact, why store all of them? If the piece of jewellery is set with an artistic and beautiful design, why not wear them in the meantime? If you own something rare, its value continues to increase as you enjoy them. Due to this, jewellery has become the most common asset to be passed down the generations as an heirloom. The sentimental and historical attachment to the jewellery transcends time. With raw materials produced by mother nature, their supply is limited and rare. In fact, majority of productions mined are not even jewellery quality.
In today’s world where sustainability is a big and important word, we too, want to preserve the earth we live in. Interestingly, jewellery is the only investment you can recycle and reset or liquidate.
The list goes on! But one thing we can be sure of is that this is one asset to invest in and never feel that you have burnt your money. It’s not about the ROI but a good asset to have and to hold. You do need to know what you are buying though.
Thanks to the dissemination of information over the decades and through technologies such as the internet, we are more informed and educated to make wise investment choices.
In the post-pandemic world, the question is not whether jewellery will survive but how will it do so.
Ellen Fruchtmann, director of Fruchtmann Marketing, advises retailers to “think ahead”, telling US jewellery industry publication The Centurion, “I can tell you from experience that the retailers that remained front and centre in 2008 [the US recession of] got stronger. Sales volumes increased, without a doubt. I’m not saying that because I’m in advertising, I’m saying it because we’ve seen it.”
So, what will change for the jewellery industry? Definitely the way we interact with our customers. We have to adapt and invest in more ways to do things differently and to stay ahead by adopting a forward-thinking mindset. The opportunity this crisis has presented is of mobility.
In conclusion, jewellery is here to stay for a very long time and may be one of the best investments you have ever made in your lifetime. More than an investment, jewellery is the language that speaks passion in your life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Simone Ng is the founder and creative director of Simone Jewels. An award-winning jewellery designer and certified gemologist, she has been named one of Singapore’s Top 10 Jewellery Designers for six consecutive years. She received the “Luxury Jewellery Brand” award in 2016, and in 2019, she received the Women Entrepreneur Awards, recognising and celebrating successful and promising businesswomen in Singapore and Asia.
Simone’s designs are inspired by history, architecture, culture, and stories, encapsulated by her brand ethos: Yesterday’s Tale, Today’s Creation, Tomorrow’s Inspiration. Every piece is an heirloom treasure of timeless essence, transformable and transformative. Entrepreneurship and jewellery runs in her bloodline and nothing excites her more than her passion for jewellery and life.
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