The Life of Top-Brands: What happens to Rolex, Cartier, and Tiffany after they debut

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Releases by top jewelry designers and fine watchmakers are actively followed by the media. But what happens after the collection has made its debut on the market? Just like top sneaker brands, individuals invest in releases of Rolex watches or Cartier jewelry collections only to put it back on the market once the demand, and therefore its value, has increased.

Thanks to recent technological advances and changing attitudes toward fast fashion, there are a multitude of avenues to buy luxury watches, designer jewelry or even a simple engagement ring. While some retailers are being challenged by the rise of online jewelry stores, others are thriving off the new opportunities. Brands like Harry Winston, Van Cleef, Breitling, Audemars Piguet and even Rolex themselves are not dominating the retail space as they were in the past decade. This shift is due to a number of reasons which are outlined in this article. But, are people really having a hard time affording luxury watches and fine jewelry at retail price or has the definition of luxury itself changed?

What happened to luxury?

Resale markets for pre-owned watches and jewelry have and will continue to increase because of a number of reasons. Some speculate that changing perspectives toward what is considered valuable has shifted the market away from fine jewelry. With advancements in tech, luxury retailers have noticed the deviation. Numbers show that individuals are investing more on travel and technology (Apple products, drones, and the like) than ever before. The fact is that the internet has opened new opportunities for the tech and travel industry to expand. But not all jewelry stores are left behind. One reason why some fine jewelry stores like Gray & Sons have been able to sustain a market for nearly forty-years is due the accessibility of internet. The Miami based boutique has embraced technology to introduce their once local market onto the global stage.

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We asked Rich, Gray & Sons sales executive, what their experience has been with the rise of the internet. “Many individuals,” he says, “find it rather convenient to buy a watch online. Especially when they can pick up the phone and talk to a watch or jewelry expert about their purchase.” Through changing markets consumer behavior, he says, is still pretty equally divided between the monthly catalogue, website and in-store walk-ins.

Luxury is unique to each person. Our market continues expanding but we are noticing that our online sales have helped introduce our products to new markets.” He expanded on this by adding that “while people are browsing online they feel more secure finalizing a purchase over the phone or, if they’re in Miami, in the store.” So it may not be that luxury is changing, but rather that consumer behaviour itself is changing.

Fine Jewelry, Fair Prices

Tiffany & Co., Van Cleef, David Yurman, along with Cartier have experienced the impact of rising resale competitors just as well. With a simple online search for Cartier Love bracelet or Tiffany rings, anyone with a debit card can purchase an authentic designer accessory off the resale market. This can mean buying from a person three miles away or from an established and licensed jeweler like Gray & Sons.

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While eBay and similar sites are good choices, the difference is that you may end up paying more than its true value. Buying from an online pre-owned seller guarantees a secure buying process. You can always go back to them if an item has any complications. Finally, with online sellers you have the option to sell it back to them if ever you decide you don’t want it. Gray & Sons makes a note that about 80% of their business is conducted with repeat and referral clients. Watches and jewelry of this caliber are designed to last a lifetime. The resale market is where these watches circulate after the excitement of a release has subdued. It is also where they regain their value. After a certain amount of time, that Rolex or Patek Philippe can be valued much higher. Gray & Sons has seen and embraced the potential of the internet and applied it to what they know best. They are optimistic about the future of the company and expect that the demand of luxury pre-owned items will surge with rising accessibility to the internet.