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2022 Big Survey: More Than Half of Jewelers Earning More Than $100,000

Golden period of growth has vaulted many store owners into top income bracket; top earners are still disproportionately men.

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2022 Big Survey: More Than Half of Jewelers Earning More Than $100,000

FOR THE FIRST time, more than half the jewelers in the INSTORE Big Survey reported earning more than $100,000 a year.

To be sure it was close, 51 percent cracked the six-figure barrier in 2021, while the rest earned less. Note that earnings were defined as salary plus share of profit and any bonuses these store owners and managers paid themselves.

Such an income level puts these jewelers in the top 13 percent of American income-earners in 2021, according to Census Bureau figures, and follows a golden period of growth for many independent jewelers despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the political and economic turmoil of the last few years. Again, according to Big Survey data, almost 60 percent of jewelers are now reporting sales of $1 million or more. That compares with just 38 percent in 2016.

While, of course, there is no one way to be financially successful in jewelry, a statistical picture of the jewelers earning the most (more than $150K) would look something like this: He (yes, 78 percent are male) operates his own free-standing full-service store in a small Midwestern city (population less than 250,000). That nice pay packet is also the result of a long career dedicated to jewelry — 53 percent of the top earners are over 60 and 64 percent have only ever been jewelers. He works hard but also smart, spending almost as much time strategizing as selling on the sales floor. Finally, our successful jeweler knows when to rest, with 74 percent getting the recommended 7 hours or more of sleep a night.

In contrast, while women accounted for 41 percent of the store owners or managers who took our survey, they accounted for 61 percent of those who earned less than $60,000 a year. The gender disparity grew more acute along the earnings curve. 59 percent of those earning less than $40,000 were women and 83 percent of those earning more than $250,000 were men.

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The 2022 Big Survey was conducted via an anonymous online form from late August to early October, attracting more than 750 responses from American jewelry-store owners and managers. The full results will be published in the November edition of INSTORE.

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