How augmented reality jewellery can supercharge sales for brands

By Cristina Ferrandez

Augmented reality (AR), a technology based on enhancing the real-world environment with computer-generated elements, is quickly gaining traction across many industries, including retail. From makeup to furniture to eyeglasses, many brands are already empowering their customers with the ability to experience products through AR and 3D modelling before they make a purchase. The reason why is simple: investing in AR technology makes sound business sense. Research shows that viewing 3D models in AR increases conversions by up to 250%, boosts customer engagement by 66%, and reduces returns by 40%

As technology continues to evolve, new use cases of AR, such as augmented reality jewellery, are also emerging. As a way to mitigate pandemic-induced store closures and meet changing consumer desires, jewellery visualisation effects that allow customers to virtually “try on” necklaces, rings, earrings, and bracelets are becoming increasingly common. And with three-quarters of consumers now expecting retailers to offer an AR experience, augmented reality may soon become the norm for jewellery retailers.

Interested in augmented reality jewellery but not quite sure how to incorporate the technology into your own physical or online store? Here are four ways jewellery brands can use AR and 3D, with specific examples.

1. Visualise jewellery in 3D

augmented reality jewellery
Thanks to 3D jewellery models, customers can see jewellery from all angles
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Jewellery is something most people want. In 2018, the average household in the US spent $647 on jewellery and watches. However, when it comes to important and expensive purchases like jewellery, customers want to make sure that they’re making the right choice before opening their wallets. 

Because of this, the vast majority of jewellery purchases still happen at physical stores. Experts say that online jewellery sales account for just between 5% and 10% of the global jewellery market. But even though many jewellery stores temporarily closed as a result of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, people did not stop buying jewellery.

Nevertheless, dealing with this rise in online jewellery sales has not always been a smooth process for retailers. As online jewellery sales increased during the pandemic, it is more than likely that the rate of returns went up as well. The main reason why is that gauging how a piece of jewellery looks through a photograph is not always easy for a customer to do. Online, it is also much more difficult to make an emotional connection.

This is where 3D models come in. As perfect representations of real pieces of jewellery, 3D models allow potential customers to view jewellery up close and from all angles in order to see the more intricate details that a specific piece may boast. With 3D models, online customers can still closely examine important elements such as the jewellery finish, effects of light, and gem clarity, among other things.

Although many retailers choose to incorporate 3D models of their product catalogue into their mobile apps or as a web-based effect, it is also possible to make them available via a physical screen in-store. 

2. Visualise jewellery with AR

augmented reality jewellery
Kendra Scott’s AR filter lets potential customers virtually try on the brand’s earrings
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Processing online jewellery returns can be a frustratingly frequent issue for both brands and consumers. In an eMarketer study on the products that US digital buyers are most apprehensive about buying due to the returns process, “jewellery & luxury items” came in second, after “clothing & accessories.” 

The good news is that buying jewellery online no longer has to be a guessing game. Thanks to augmented reality, it is already possible for customers to try on jewellery, including earrings, necklaces, rings, and bracelets, even if they don’t have access to the actual physical pieces. All customers have to do is place their phone in front of their face or point their phone camera at their arm/hand/neck to see a replica of the jewellery appear on their body in 3D. 

An easier way to find pieces that suit you, augmented reality jewellery can give individuals a better idea of how a specific piece will look on them — for example, whether a particular metal colour will match their skin tone.

For instance, Kendra Scott customers are often drawn to the brand’s selection of earrings but typically want to try them on before committing to buy them. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced the brand to temporarily close its shops, Kendra Scott deployed a virtual try-on process that made it possible for customers to visualise the shape, size, and movement of their earrings. 

“Because earrings move and [frame] your face when you’re talking and whatever you’re doing, we knew that in an augmented reality experience, we wanted to capture that movement and that that would make the experience more fun,” said Megan Kohout, the brand’s VP of e-commerce and customer analytics. 

Critically, customers that use the try-on feature at Kendra Scott are three times more likely to make a purchase and spend 20% more per order.

However, augmented reality jewellery is not only useful in online storefronts. In physical stores, integrating AR try-on capabilities into displays can save shop assistants time as they won’t have to show every piece to the potential buyer (and, in a post-COVID-19 world, disinfect every piece that the customer tries on but doesn’t purchase). According to Helzberg Diamonds, which installed an AR kiosk in their store in 2019, this is what customers want too, as it gives them “more control over the experience, and empowers them to make educated decisions along the way.” 

Augmented reality jewellery can entice customers to come into the store in the first place, as well. Turning AR into a customer attraction, the Swiss watchmaker Tissot let customers try on 3D models of their watches in front of their store

3. Engage with AR jewellery social filters

augmented reality jewellery
Kay Jewelers launched a world lens on Snapchat to allow customers to try on their necklaces
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To boost brand engagement among new or existing customers, retailers can combine augmented reality jewellery with branded social filters. 

A great example of a branded AR social filter is Missoma’s AR Instagram effect, produced by Poplar Studio. Designed around their Kaleidoscope Summer campaign, the filter turns everything around the user kaleidoscopic, giving the brand a fun and shareable promotional tool.

Social media filters designed to allow users to try on different jewellery are also a great option, because they allow individuals to share how a piece of jewellery looks on them with friends, and get suggestions. 

In 2017, for example, Kay Jewelers released a world lens on Snapchat. The lens created a jewellery-themed game that gave users the ability to try on three different sets of layered necklaces. 

Kim Kanary, Kay Jewelers’ vice president of public relations and social media, said, “We know that consumers like to browse and research jewellery selections digitally, but still value the opportunity to experience the physical try-on in store. With this custom lens, we’re able to combine those behaviours in a fun and interactive experience that we believe users will really enjoy.”

4. Delight with AR jewellery packaging

Jewellery brand La mome bijou’s AR packaging is a great way to delight both new and existing customers
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In addition to 3D jewellery models, virtual try-on, and augmented reality social media filters, jewellery brands can also use augmented reality to add new layers of interactivity to their packaging. This is typically done by incorporating an image tracker effect on the packaging of jewellery and can help build excitement around a purchase. 

Augmented reality jewellery packaging is a great way to increase engagement and shareability or simply communicate information such as sustainability and manufacturing practices, additional facts, and even trivia about the brand.

The French jewellery brand La mome bijou designed a limited packaging design collection named “La vie est une fête!” or “Life is a party!” True to its name, the packaging was very playful and colourful, with fun 3D designs. Perhaps most impressively, when viewed through a customer’s smartphone, the packaging displayed additional AR elements, such as confetti-like shapes and words like “bang” and “pop.” 

The future of augmented reality jewellery

It took a global pandemic and subsequent lockdowns to make many jewellery retailers consider new ways of doing business. However, innovative, forward-thinking brands have been experimenting with AR long before temporary (and sometimes permanent) coronavirus store closures — often with amazing results. 

As body tracking gets better, more and more jewellery retailers are going to invest in AR or risk getting left behind. If you want to get ahead of this trend, get in touch with the team at Poplar Studio today. Together, we’ll come up with an AR plan that’s perfect for your jewellery business — and help you implement it.