Some store owners saw a slowdown to pre-Covid-19 revenue levels, but anticipate a busy holiday period.
Summer sales were unseasonably strong at many jewelry stores, despite fears that unrestricted travel and dining opportunities might detract from consumer luxury spending. Even at shops where sales slowed to pre-pandemic levels, retailers appeared optimistic that the holidays would bring customers in. Novel trends, from pink metals to pearls for men, are expected to meet with refreshed marketing strategies in an effort to renew customer interest once winter sets in.
For Carole Barker, owner of Molinelli’s Jewelers in Pocatello, Idaho, summer was busy and profitable, continuing the trend of recent years.
“We had a great summer,” she says “We’re up from last year, and I didn’t think that was possible. Usually this is a slow time of year, but we’re actually still doing well.”
Business was also booming in New York, reports Yakov Mazler, manager of Forever Diamonds. “We usually do very well in the summer, and this summer has been no exception.”
He’s expecting an even busier winter holiday season, he adds, because he plans to market heavily on social media. “Right now, we have so many orders coming in. I’m going to post [pictures of] those, and that’s going to create a new boom for people to try to get engaged around Valentine’s Day , which means the people will shop during Christmas.”
Further south, however, summer slowed to pre-pandemic levels.
“Summer got back to normal,” observes H. Bredemeier, owner of H & H Jewels in Coconut Grove, Florida. “Last year, it was like Valentine’s Day all year. We were selling all year long. This summer wasn’t like the fever of last year.”
Gems, Men’s, and other trends
Colored gemstones and yellow gold are popular for Bredemeier, who expects these trends to continue through the holidays.
“A lot of yellow and a lot of pink gold, a lot of fashion and a lot of color,” he says. “Pink sapphires are back in, and the color pink in general is back in. In the ’90s, pink was unbelievable, and now pink is back.”
Gifting price points, says Bredemeier, run between $300 and $500 on the low end, while his high-end regular customers are buying larger diamonds for upgrades and anniversary presents.
Lab-grown diamonds are big for Barker, as are gemstones and watches. “I’m surprised, because everybody thinks watches are dead and gone because of cellphones,” she says. “But that’s not the case. Young people are buying watches.”
In terms of the holidays, she says engagement jewelry will be popular, as will gifts in the $99 to $150 range. She expects good sales of stackable rings and layered necklaces, as well as chains for both men and women.
“I’ve even had a couple of men buy pearl necklaces for themselves because some football player wears pearl necklaces,” she says. Several high-profile athletes, including NFL player Garrett Wilson and baseball star Joc Pederson, have sported pearls.
Yakov predicts “promise jewelry” will be a good gift for people in a relationship but not yet ready to get engaged. “We give them some cheaper options with little dainty hearts on them,” he explains. “Something customers can buy that says, ‘I’m getting my ducks in a row.’”
Bracelets will also be popular for the holidays, he adds. “They don’t have to be sized, so you don’t have to guess her finger size, and you don’t have to bring her in. You can still make it a surprise. People don’t really like pendants that much, but bracelets are going well.”
Price points for gift items like these run from $1,000 to under $3,000, says Yakov. “Most of our engagement rings start at around $6,500 or $7,500. I’m trying to bring that number down.”
Yakov believes social media plays a big part in his store’s success.
“Facebook and Instagram have been very good for us,” he says. “But all the younger generation are using TikTok. We’ve been doing very well there, with 150,000 followers and a couple of million likes. And people that come [to my website] from TikTok are staying longer than from any other channels.”
For Barker, Covid-19 pushed her to get creative. “We had to do things a lot differently, which actually changed things for the better,” she remarks. “We learned how to have a private party with one person and their spouse, and find out their favorite treats and their favorite drink, and completely lavish them. We’ve sold more than ever. They love it, and they are completely prepared to spend money. I think people want an experience instead of going online.”
By the numbers
- Overall US retail sales in August were up 0.3% from July, and 9% year on year.
- US jewelry sales will rise 2.2% year on year between November 1 and December 24, predicts Mastercard SpendingPulse — a 33% increase from the same period of 2019.
- Sales of platinum jewelry in the US rose 25% year on year by weight and 15% by unit in the three months that ended June 30.
- Watches of Switzerland’s US sales doubled to GBP 152 million ($179 million) as the company acquired several businesses, including jewelry chain Betteridge.
- Swiss watch exports to the US grew 23% to CHF 261.8 million ($271 million) in August, driving a global 15% jump for the month.
Sources: US Census Bureau, Mastercard SpendingPulse, Platinum Guild International (PGI), Watches of Switzerland, Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry