Technology and Jewellery

Technology is uprooting the jewellery industry in all areas. From retail experience, design and manufacture, to environmental issues. Year on year, we see new technological trends emerging, honed by designers and retailers alike. This not only proposes an uncertain landscape for the future of the jewellery industry, but also an exciting set of developments which open up even more possibilities for innovation.

Whilst the lab-grown diamond debate continues to divide professional opinion, technological advancements in the industry today surpasses the chemical makeup of precious gemstones. Innovation in the jewellery industry benefits almost every demographic. The millennial consumer can pay for dinner with a flash of a designer bracelet. A jeweller can push the boundaries of design with ever-evolving CAD and CAM software. With jewellery taking a much more active role in daily life, one can only imagine what the next decade will bring.

As the global economy gradually moves towards a tech-centric model, harnessing these new innovations within the jewellery industry seems like the savvy thing to do. Discover the various ways the jewellery industry is colliding with technology.

1. A holistic approach to accessorisation

Bellabeat Chakra Necklace Bellabeat Necklace

Indeed, the demand for fitness tracker jewellery remains rife. However, retailers have noticed a shift that favours a more holistic approach to health. New developments in wearable tech means jewellery that monitors stress, meditation and reproductive health is affordable and readily-available to the modern consumer. Bellabeat’s leaf chakra pendant goes one step further. Monitoring aspects of your lifestyle via the app, the chakra pendant will flag up the triggers that cause you stress.

Visually appealing and technologically impressive, this jewellery piece provides wearers with a functional and autonomous approach to health. Promoting self-governance and positivity, Bellabeat’s pendant gives control back to the consumer, showing how technology fashions a positive space in the jewellery market. 

 2. Sartorial stimulation

In an exploration in technology, fashion and feminism, Wan Ting Tseng, a postgraduate student from the Dyson School of Design Engineering, created a tech-jewellery range encouraging conversation about female sexuality and sexual desire.

These silicone accessories emulate sensations such as human touch and breath with the aim that women will feel liberated exploring their sexuality.

The designer comments: “I wanted to create a different, personal, and more sensual experience for women.” Wan Ting Tseng adds that “society doesn’t always encourage women to explore their sexuality” like it does for men. By creating these beautiful wearable objects, the designer feels women will be able to connect with their bodies in a way that focuses on intimacy rather than the pursuit of pleasure.

Certain societies perpetuate connotations of shame surrounding female sexual pleasure. This interaction between jewellery and technology is revolutionary on both a technological and cultural level.

3. E-waste jewellery

e-waste Jewellery e-waste jewellery

E-waste is discarded electronic appliances. It is also one of the most accelerating environmental threats we are facing right now. How many old phones have you discarded, rendered obsolete by a newer, sexier model? Unfortunately, these outdated tech-carcasses are posing the newest form of ecological damage.

Yet some savvy designers such as Eliza Walter are transforming e-waste into beautiful jewellery. Within your iPhones and computers lie treasures of gold and platinum, providing jewellers with a sustainable way of recycling electronics. Dr Sandra Wilson of the University of Dundee shares insights into e-waste jewellery that somehow carve a platform which appeals perfectly to the millennial consumer:

“Just as many people choose to have heirloom jewellery reworked into fashionable new pieces, some may choose to do the same with old gadgetry. If you met on Tinder then you may feel your mobile had been fundamental to your relationship and want to use the gold from the circuit board in a wedding ring.”

This unconventional interaction with technology displays an effort jewellers are making to ironically combat its harmful effects.

4. Pay with your jewellery

Pay with your jewellery 

Because, sometimes, taking your purse out is just too much effort. Jokes aside, jewellery ‘purses’ are one of the newest forms of wearable tech that appeals greatly to the modern consumer. Forgot your wallet? Pay for your groceries with your ring. Going for a drink with friends? Flash your bracelet and no longer worry about your bag of valuables.

Jewellery as a payment method is a tech investment without the Apple Watch price tag. You can get a designer bracelet that functions as a contactless payment card for under $100. Tovi Sorga contactless bracelet comes in range of stylish designs and is monitored through a user-friendly app. You can even set budgets and make quick transfers - a bracelet to fit your wrist and social life.

5. Jewellery as a new form of forensic identification

A trailblazing researcher has forged a new academic venture into the use of jewellery in forensic investigations. Maria Maclennan is the world’s first forensic jeweller. Through the use of scientific technology, Maclennan examines jewellery to identify victims of mass fatalities. With the presence of specific hallmarks and gemstones, Maclennan is often able to trace the jewellery back to a certain designer, or even record of purchase.

Due to the durability of certain metals and gemstones, they are often the only resources for forensics teams to examine in large-scale fatalities. Maclennan’s research has had large social and scientific implications, most notably benefiting the families of victims. Through fusing forensic technology with her background in jewellery design, Maclennan has established a whole new area of investigative research.

6. Smart-lighting in jewellery displays

Technology has also enhanced the way jewellery retailers are able to improve their sales environments. Saina Attaoui, the head of international and travel retail at Millington Associates identifies two design factors which have a corresponding impact on the subsequent sales of jewellery: ‘The first and most immediate is the need for a design that allows for the impactful telling of a story to speak to the customer’s imagination. And the second, perhaps more practical, is the need for the right lighting.’

This research correlates with the amount retailers invest in to improve their in-store experience with lighting technology, which is seemingly such a basic aspect of retail experience.

Tino Vella Designs provide jewellery stores with glass display cabinets enhanced with a number of interactive features. For example, employees are able to adjust the colour temperature of LED lighting to match the specific jewellery displayed. Through rotating displays and intelligent light solutions, the brilliance of diamonds are shown to their full potential, driving sales and enhancing the customer’s experience.

7. Augmented reality fitting rooms

Digital Inventory

The global impact of online shopping is one of the most drastic changes in consumerism retailers have had to adjust to. From social media to online marketing strategies, carving an online presence is a crucial aspect that retail brands must adapt to. 

Nonetheless, the ‘trying on’ aspect of fashion retail is a barrier that online shopping has yet to conquer. Model imagery and videos may be provided for clothing and jewellery. Even so, the inevitable question of whether the specific product will be to the taste of the buyer is left to be decided.

However, through the use of pioneering technology, fashion tech start-up StyleDotMe developed an augmented reality ‘fitting room’ for shoppers to virtually ‘try on’ jewellery. The software is called mirrAR, and enables customers to have a fun and integrated shopping experience.

Not only will this technology benefit the consumer, but jewellery brands too. Setting this software up in store or at pop-up shops allows businesses to optimise inventory costs whilst reducing security risks.