Marielys Pagan

Digital Trends in the Fine Jewelry Industry: Upscale Brands Embrace Exciting Innovations

Following a temporary period of stagnation, the jewelry business is enjoying a rapid ascent. Data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ (BEA) reveals that personal jewelry consumption reached a shocking $94.6 billion in 2021 — a huge increase from the 2020 figure of $62.3 billion.

While a variety of factors contributed to this unprecedented spending, revolutionary marketing strategies and new digital opportunities deserve much of the credit. A recent report reminds us that jewelry has long lagged behind other luxury-oriented businesses in its shift to digital, but it's clear that this industry is starting to catch up. Data from McKinsey (BEA) reveals that online sales now account for 13 percent of fine jewelry's global market, with the expectation that it will "be more branded, more digital" in the next few years.

While the market's growth in 2021 was exciting, skeptics point out that this may not be sustainable. Consumers may be eager to invest in fine jewelry, but they're also compromised by unprecedented inflation.

Further challenges accompany customers' growing reluctance to pursue 'traditional' paths when purchasing jewelry: they're less inclined to visit physical stores or make purchases on the spot if they do find themselves in brick-and-mortar locations. Thankfully, these challenges can be overcome via a wide array of exciting digital solutions, several of which are highlighted in detail below:

Virtual Try-Ons

For years, consumers have complained that online shopping just doesn't match the unique experience of in-person browsing. Many still worry that products purchased online won't look quite like they've imagined once viewed in person — or that they won't fit properly if not handled physically.

Shipping deals and free returns have mitigated this issue to some extent, giving customers an opportunity to return items that don't work out. Still, this can feel like a hassle, especially given the unique challenges of returning jewelry that may be engraved, sized specifically, or otherwise personalized.

Better solutions are needed to help consumers feel confident in their purchases. At this point, one of the best options is to try on pieces virtually to get a sense for how they'll look in real life.

Virtual try-ons replicate what consumers love most about shopping in person while providing the ultimate ease of access. Powered by augmented reality (AR), this solution has come a long way in the last few years.

As one of the earlier adopters of virtual try-on solutions, Swiss luxury watchmaker Baume & Mercier released an exciting system in 2021: the opportunity to 'try on' watches from the Riviera collection. Available directly on the Baume & Mercier website, this experience doesn't require consumers to waste time downloading specialized apps or dealing with social media platforms. All that's needed is a cell phone camera, which allows customers to view a variety of watches superimposed on their wrists.

In general, customers appreciate when some form of virtual contact is available. For example, Greenwich St. Jewelers offers virtual consults, with options such as CAD renderings ensuring that customers can personalize pieces as they see fit.


Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are a big deal in the art world, but their reach has recently expanded to several of today's most noteworthy jewelers. This digital solution goes beyond virtual try-ons, bringing digital innovation into the very experience of owning jewelry. In many cases, NFTs are obtained in addition to physical items, with the intention of bolstering the authenticity and long-term value of luxury pieces.

NFTs are also increasingly pursued as digital-only pieces, purchased in lieu of — not in addition to — physical items. Under this approach, jewelry NFTs largely mimic their counterparts in the artistic world. Equipped with these NFTs, customers can adorn themselves digitally.

While there are still many NFT skeptics in the jewelry business, several major names have embraced this technology in a big way. Key examples include:

  • Bulgari. In June of 2022, Bulgari made a splash at the event VivaTech, with visitors encouraged to enter a meta version of Rome so they could enjoy the views from the rooftop of the designer's virtual stores. From there, guests had the chance to explore jewelry reproductions. What's more, Bulgari recently launched the Beyond Wonder NFT collection. Termed the "first NFT jewel," this digital creation is meant to drive the brand's status as an industry trailblazer.
  • Asprey. As one of the most groundbreaking entries into the burgeoning jewelry NFT market, royal jeweler Asprey teamed up with Bugatti to sell NFTs in a digital-physical format. Additionally, Asprey is expected to release a digital-only line of NFTs.
  • Tiffany & Co. In August, 2022, Tiffany & Co. entered the NFT market by allowing members of the growing CryptoPunk community to purchase specialized pendants. This release functioned as a guerrilla marketing campaign. The initiative centered around the creation of NFTiff tokens. CryptoPunk users can maintain a maximum of three tokens and are able to mint customized pieces.
  • Cartier. Demonstrating one of the more practical components of NFTs, Cartier uses this technology to track pieces as they're repaired. The jeweler's parent company Richemont has worked with LVMH and the Prada Group to create the Aura Blockchain Consortium, which verifies the history and authenticity of valuable pieces. NFTs are created whenever items are sent to Cartier for repairs, with customers enjoying easy access to progress updates.

Digital Diamond Grading Reports

Not all consumers are ready to explore NFTs or even virtual try-ons just yet. Those who prefer a slower and easier transition to digital may be forced to embrace virtual solutions as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) takes its iconic diamond grading reports online.

Paper reports once dominated the diamond industry. These provided extensive verification of diamonds' characteristics — including, most notably, the 4Cs: cut, color, clarity, and carat. The information contained within these reports remains relevant, but the physical documents are on their way out.

GIA has cited not only convenience and security as priorities, but also, eco-friendly communication. By going digital, this diamond authority will save an impressive 18.5 tons of plastic and 20 tons of paper every year, not to mention the extensive energy usage tied to transporting physical reports.

Recently, the GIA announced that all diamond grading reports will be digital by 2025. Under the new, digital-only approach, consumers will enjoy easy access to a variety of advanced offerings, such as:

  • Diamond Dossier. Issued for a select subset of loose natural diamonds, GIA's Diamond Dossier provides a thorough overview of the characteristics that distinguish diamonds weighing less than one carat. These diamonds are inscribed with report numbers and, ultimately, highlighted in an inscription registry. Details referenced in this report include weight, shape, cutting style, and more. This report is going completely digital in 2023, with its newfound accessibility driven by QR codes.
  • GIA app. Both retailers and consumers can easily access vital information via the GIA app, which keeps consumers up to date on the latest news from the jewelry business. Interactive features center around the 4Cs, with the goal of properly informing consumers about their options. The app also offers a GIA retailer lookup tool to make searching for authentic diamonds a bit more convenient.
  • Match iD. Making the most of proprietary AI technology, the GIA's Match iD solution harnesses the combined power of the digital Diamond Dossier and the GIA app. This system will rely on AI technology to reliably match diamonds and their grading reports. The goal is to identify, and ultimately, prevent counterfeit inscriptions.

“If someone cuts the diamond our AI is smart enough to know when the machine takes the image, that it is not the same diamond.”

- Pritesh Patel, GIA COO


The jewelry business has long been slow to embrace digital opportunities, but that's finally changing. From digital grading reports to virtual try-ons and even digital-only NFTs, it's clear that a shakeup is in store. Jewelers that embrace these exciting opportunities will be poised to drive the most impactful innovations in a rapidly evolving industry.

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