Is Buffett Betting on Wearables in 2017?

Warren Buffett is not famous for many things including his investing genius. However, there are some decisions, including his distaste for technology, which are equally legendary. Although the investing guru has begun investing in a few tech stocks like IBM and Apple, the idea of technology is still one that leaves Buffett a little wary because he doesn’t understand it well. However, it may be that opinion is beginning to change.

Recently, Berkshire Hathaway’s Richline Group, which creates and markets jewelry around the world, has announced that it will be expanding into the wearables market this spring with the launch of its new Ela product line. Ela stands for “Elegant Lifestyle Accessories” and the smart jewelry will allow users to set custom colors and vibrations to notify them of calls and texts from certain senders.

The interesting thing is that Buffett, who is traditionally wary of not only technology but also fads, is investing in something as tech-savvy and unproven as wearables. In fact, according to CNBC, the wearables industry only grew 3.1 percent in the third quarter of 2016. For an up-and-coming industry, that might be a little worrying.

Buffett, however, isn’t viewing this as a dangerous move at all. In fact, he told CNBC that Ela is more of an enhancement of a business that Berkshire Hathaway already does well—jewelry.

“Jewelry is a centuries-old business that isn’t going anywhere, so it’s a safe bet,” Buffett emailed CNBC. “With the addition of technology, we’re simply updating something everyone knows and loves to better fit our modern age.”

According to statements from Richline product manager Cliff Ulrich, the Ela line is going to be marketed as jewelry first, and will be held to many of the same standards as Richline’s other jewelry products. And, if there’s one thing that Buffett’s Berkshire companies know well (aside from insurance) it has to be jewelry.

The new Ela line, which at first will include a set of bracelets, is expected to be available in spring 2017.

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