If you search for the keyword “niche jewelry” on Red, over 50,000 items sharing smaller jewelry brands will appear. The jewelry at these posts, which average prices between $ 100 and $ 147 (700 to 1,000 yuan), are still often gold or silver, but pearls and other precious stones are increasingly in demand. Beyond this change in tastes, we are also witnessing an intensification of the rivalry between big brands like Richemont and LVMH and more agile and affordable brands. But what is behind this change?
Young Chinese buyers see jewelry more as a personal statement than a token of love and commitment, and this demographic shift has led to booming e-commerce gains for China’s mid-range jewelry market. This has nurtured a host of local jewelry designer brands that are now taking market share from international brands like Swarovski and Pandora, which are favored by millennial shoppers.
Boasting gender-fluid designs that align with young consumers’ preferences for inclusion and diversity, these niche jewelry brands are boosting their brand awareness through extensive social following on Tmall, Red and Weibo. Here, Daily Jing goes through five local jewelry brands that are most sought after by Gen Z consumers.
Founded by award-winning designer Sun Hefang (孙 何方) in 2012, this brand works with materials like 18k gold, Swarovski crystals and platinum. The brand has developed partnerships with large multi-brand retailers such as Colette in Paris and the David Jones department store chain in Australia, as well as with big national names such as Dong Liang. Over the past eight years, the brand has received the support of celebrities such as Fan Bingbing and Yang Mi. In addition to having a strong offline presence, the brand is taking advantage of digital opportunities on Tmall and JD.com, through a total number of 910,000 subscribers.
YVMIN takes an artistic and innovative approach to redefine modern jewelry, and the brand’s designer duo Xiaoyu Zhang and Min Li describe their production as a “laboratory of body accessories”. They spawned the brand’s first collection in 2013 after graduating from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 2012, and have since been featured in established local fashion media such as Harper’s Bazaar China and Outlook magazine. Now the brand’s reach extends from fashionistas and the general public to offline retail partners as well as online shoppers. Its most iconic design, which reinvents spectacle frames as a jewelry accessory, has helped the brand achieve wider reach while staying true to its forward-thinking DNA.
OOAK, which stands for ‘one-of-a-kind’, was established as a multi-brand jewelry retailer in 2012, when founder Alice Xu found that the Chinese jewelry market was inundated with traditional, large gold jewelry. luxury brands and “fast fashion” accessories. Inspired by growing consumer demands, the brand developed its own brand of jewelry in 2017 with a focus on niche and affordable pieces. To date, OOAK has developed a large global presence in Asia, Europe and the United States, as well as on international e-commerce platforms such as YOOX.
Cough in vain
Cough in Vain’s unisex designs tap into the growing Chinese men’s jewelry market by interweaving masculinity and femininity with a combination of materials like pearl and silver. As such, it has become a large following among Generation Z consumers. According to the curiously-named brand founder Liu Shuyu, the word “cough” represents an irreversible physiological response of the body due to the environment. , while “in vain” symbolizes the endless lack of meaning – a reference to the lack of functionality of jewelry. Liu said in an interview with Dazed China that this description explains the brand’s DNA, which constantly challenges the relationship between body and jewelry by allowing customers to define it.
The full-fledged designer brand’s jewelry line is not only a complement to its ready-to-wear collections, but also the main driver of brand awareness in the Chinese market. Featured by female celebrities such as Wang Feifei and Lan Yinying on the hit reality show “Sisters Who Make Waves”, the brand has created a specific target of modern independent women. Founded by London College of Fashion graduate Yirantian Guo, the brand explores a balance between nostalgia and novelty, distancing itself from the usual hype and trends. In addition to finding an ever-growing presence online, the brand has developed an exceptional storage network through retailers like LABELHOOD, Galeries Lafayette, The Beast Shop (野兽派) and Lane Crawford.