I know most people aren’t thinking about this – they are thinking about hedge fund managers and how much they may, or may not, lose on their bets – but yesterdays’ dramatic drop in gold prices is going to have an interesting knock-on effect on jewellers and watch makers. Not because it will make their products, which have been creeping upwards over the last decade along with the price of their raw materials less expensive – but because it WON’T. It can’t. Here’s why.
In one of the more weirdly fabulous outside-the-box collaborations I have yet heard about, designer Jean-Paul Gaultier has teamed up with Dallas-based Dillon Gage Metals to create…a Gaultier one-ounce gold bar. Forget jewellery; he’s gone straight to the source.
Indeed, this is the first time a fashionista has plunged directly into the world of commodities itself, as opposed to what can be made from commodities.
Jewellery by Marie-Helene de Taillac. Image by Vanessa Friedman
Yesterday, on the last day of Paris Fashion Week, I dropped in on jeweller Marie-Hélène de Taillac, and we got to chatting about the price of gold. She said it had transformed her business.
First, it meant stones had become enormously more important. She showed me some little gold hoops decorated with minute gold “sequins” (very thin) discs the size of lentils, and then some much larger sparkling numbers of quartz and amethyst — really quite large amethysts — and asked which I thought was more expensive. They are pictured left.
What would be your guess?
Pity the poor jewelers of this world. As the price of gold soars and investors hoard bullion, the price of one of the luxury industry’s prime raw materials goes through the roof; suddenly, what was the base metal of high-end adornment has become as precious as the sparklers it normally holds. The unknown now becomes how consumers will react to this change; whether their idea of what gold jewellery represents (glamour, a special indulgence, an investment), will catch up to commodities reality, and they will see gold jewellery as an even better place to put their money, or whether they will run from the inflated prices.