13/06/2024 8:00 PM

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Piece of That Fashion

Genderless jewellery doesn’t have to be “neutral”

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Jewellery has been resilient in the pandemic. But as the trend pendulum swings to bold, bright and extravagant jewellery styles, many fine jewellery collections pitched as gender-neutral might be just too dull for consumer tastes.

Many luxury brands have produced genderless collections in recent months. Bulgari launched gender-neutral line B.zero1 Rock in March 2020, Louis Vuitton added its unisex line Volt in November 2020, and Dior is joining the trend with its unisex Dior Gem line of watches and fine jewellery this spring.

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However, many of these collections focus on solid metals and small, clear stones rather than high-fashion, extravagant pieces. Neutral hero pieces, such as Boucheron’s Quatre ring, Cartier’s Love bracelet or Bulgari’s B.zero1, are sold to all genders. That leaves a gap for emerging brands in the fine jewellery space to provide for clients of all genders who want to wear more colourful and bold fine jewels.

“Jewellery has become part of style in the last 10 years,” says Boucheron chief executive Hélène Poulit-Duquesne. “It’s not only about showing power or status now. It’s a lot more about expressing yourself and your identity.” Defining a product by the gender of its customer is no longer necessary, she suggests. “At Boucheron, we are not concentrated on saying this is for men and this is for women. We are gender free, meaning we are more interested in the individual,” she says.

Focusing on gender-inclusive communication

Analysts expect growing demand for gender neutrality in jewellery going forward, mirroring activity across fashion and beauty, says McKinsey partner and EMEA luxury lead Anita Balchandani. Jewellery is a dynamic landscape, she says, with Gen Z interest aroused by social media and technological innovation. “There’s a lot of innovation now as colourful stones become more popular and lab-grown diamonds make fine jewels more affordable. It means more people want access to the market,” she says.

Nearly 25 per cent of Gen Zs expect their gender identification to change during their lifetime, according to research by Irregular Labs, commissioned by Gucci. Today, jewellery is a new means for men to express themselves, from Harry Styles’s viral pearl necklace to the rise of brooches.

Bulgari jewellery managing director Mauro Di Roberto remarks on the shift in attitude, which has been accelerated by the pandemic. “There’s been an evolution of any gender, whether it be a male or any gender identity, appreciating wearing Bulgari jewellery,” he says, “I don’t look at it from a collection point of view. I think the gender opportunity goes beyond the product,” he says.