There’s a sky-blue topaz pendant hanging from Flex the French bulldog’s collar – it’s her birthstone, and a symbol of love from her owners, Shae and Pat Robbins. Flex also has a sterling silver heart-shaped name tag, and her next gift will be a diamond pendant.
“She can never have enough bling,” says Shae. “A lot of people compliment and ask me where I got it from.”
Shae Robbins French Bulldog, Flex, wearing a $200 topaz pendant.Credit:Louise Kennerley
The Sydney couple had never heard of pet jewellery until they recently spotted it on Instagram. The two pieces of Richie Paws jewellery cost $200, a price Shae says didn’t “break the bank” considering Flex cost $9,000.
“French bulldogs are quite high maintenance anyway,” she said. “I don’t see it as an expensive cost considering aluminium dog tags have to be replaced every couple of months.”
Pet bling is the latest way besotted owners are spoiling their furry friends. A 2021 study by Animal Medicines Australia showed cat and dog owners spent a collective $30 billion in a year on their pets, mostly on food and health-related items. Pet ownership grew during the pandemic from 69 per cent of Australian households owning at least one pet, up from 61 per cent in 2019. That means more pets to spoil, and businesses thinking up new ways to attract the pet dollar.
Luxury brands have long offered designer pet accessories, such as the Hermes Rocabar dog collar at $925, and Louis Vuitton’s monogram leash for $555.
In Australia there is an eclectic offering of pet jewellery and accessories, everything from beaded dog bracelets from Let’s Pawty and rhinestone dog tie necklaces from Doggytopia.
However, luxury pet jewellery is still an untapped market according to Richie Paws’ founder Daniel Haddon. He was inspired to start the business after investing in a bespoke luxury name tag for his cavoodle, Penelope.
“I wanted to give her something precious and valuable, and I thought other people might want this luxury too. I would take a bullet for my pet, she is my child.”
Penelope now has nine pieces of jewellery and wears them on rotation.
“For everyday she wears her silver or gold because it is rough and tumble. She wears her diamonds at parties,” Haddon said.
The most expensive item in the Richie Paws range is a heart signature white diamond pendant costing $1,340.
Paul Harrison, the chair of Consumer Affairs at Deakin University, says people are spending more on their pets because to make themselves feel better.
“They’re not technically buying it for their pets. It’s for themselves. It’s an emotional purchase,” he said. “When people don’t know what to do with discretionary income, they say ‘How can I solve my existential angst through buying?’”.
Haddon acknowledges that spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on pet jewellery may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but insists that it’s more than a vanity purchase.
“Even when Penelope is gone I might turn her jewellery into a necklace. The piece becomes a keepsake.”
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