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The Big Survey 2018: Buying

Thriving jewelers buy more aggressively ... and re-order hot sellers more promptly.

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From laboratory-created diamonds to trade show buying to purchasing off the street, there are lots of options these days for jewelers to acquire their goods. Thriving jewelers are more apt than struggling ones to buy more aggressively regardless of avenue, including a higher frequency of reorders when selling through product.

 

20. Is your buying at trade shows …

INCREASING
Overall
14%
Thrivers
20%
Strugglers
6%
STAYING THE SAME
Overall
40%
Thrivers
45%
Strugglers
29%
DECREASING
Overall
36%
Thrivers
25%
Strugglers
53%
I NEVER BOUGHT AT SHOWS
Overall
11%
Thrivers
11%
Strugglers
12%

COMMENT: There has been much talk in recent years about waning participation at trade shows from Vegas to Basel. But our numbers seem to suggest jewelers doing well still see value in show attendance. Meanwhile, more than half the Strugglers said they were cutting back on their showgoing.

 

21. What jewelry or watch brand would you most like to add to your cases?

1. Rolex
2. Tag Heuer
3. David Yurman
4. Michele
5. Gabriel & Co.
6. Bulova
7. Movado
8. Patek Phillippe
9. Omega
10. Tie: Tacori and Kendra Scott

COMMENT: Swiss watch brands dominated the list, which is at once surprising, given that many of the mid-range brands haven’t done all that well in recent years and because so few jewelers cite watches as a key category, and perhaps not so strange — the big watch brands are much better known by the general public and arguably more prestigious than jewelry brands.

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21. Which category is your store’s point of “differentiation”?

COMMENT: Strugglers were much less likely to say their point of differentiation was custom design, with just 23% selecting this service compared to 38% for the thriving stores. Strugglers were also more likely to pick silver as their strong point (3% vs. 0.4%) as well as watches (4% vs. 2%) and colored gemstones (6% vs. 4%).

 

22. What do you buy off the street?

COMMENT: There’s gold to be found out there in the drawers and jewelry boxes of your customers. Thriving jewelers were more likely than Strugglers to be buyers in every category — except silver.

 

23. How often do you place re-orders?

COMMENT: The takeaway is clear: The stores doing best are those that order most quickly. Nearly half the stores experiencing great numbers in 2016 and 2017 reorder on a weekly basis.

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Big Survey

Big Survey: How Many Women Make More Than $150,000 in Retail Jewelry?

For the most part, men are the higher earners.

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FOUR IN 10 independent jewelry stores in America are now run by women according to the 2018 Big Survey. However, for the most part, it is the men who continue to be the highest earners, with 80 percent of the jewelers making $150,000 or more a year being male.

A part of this discrepancy can be explained by the fact that many of the women owners and managers are relatively new to the industry and their stores have yet to reach the scale that rewards their owners so handsomely. In 2009, the first time we specifically asked about gender, the split between male and female owners was 65/35.

It’s also undeniable that women face bigger hurdles in business, whether it’s accessing credit, being accepted in business networks or just operating in a still male-dominated field.

Having said that, the women jewelers in our survey are doing well. Forty-three percent of the jewelers who said they’d had their best year ever since 2016 were women, suggesting they are outperforming their male counterparts.

As the Store Owner, What Did You Earn (Salary + Share of Profit) Last Year?

What Is It Your Gender?

COMMENT: The number of women owners or managers has been steadily rising since we started doing these surveys more than a decade ago. The first time we specifically asked about gender, in 2009, the split was 65/35. For the record, 43% of the thriving jewelers were women, suggesting they are outperforming their male counterparts. That said, it should be noted that male-owned stores overall tend to be older and thus the owners are often comparing those last two years against a historical record that goes back decades.

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Big Survey

Manmade Diamond Legal Quiz: Can You Do Better Than the Jewelers in the 2018 Big Survey?

Test your knowledge.

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ON JULY 24, the Federal Trade Commission’s jewelry guidelines were revised to include laboratory-grown diamonds in the commission’s definition of diamonds.

The FTC’s previous definition of a diamond was: “A natural mineral consisting essentially of pure carbon crystallized in the isometric system.”

The new listing does not include the word “natural.” “When the commission first used this definition in 1956, there was only one type of diamond product on the market — natural stones mined from the earth,” the FTC said. “Since then, technological advances have made it possible to create diamonds in a laboratory. These stones have essentially the same optical, physical and chemical properties as mined diamonds. Thus, they are diamonds.”

Which of the following terms are you allowed to use to describe laboratory-grown diamonds, according to the FTC. (The figures in parentheses reflect the answers of your fellow jewelers who took the Big Survey)

Laboratory-grown
94%
Manmade
56%
Laboratory-created
47%
Synthetic
35%
(Manufacturer-name)-created
34%
Cultured
20%
Simulant
7%
Imitation
6%

 

The descriptions in orange are fine, based on the FTC guidelines, while those in red are not. How did you do?

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Big Survey

Big Survey: How Many Hours Do Jewelers Work Per Week?

More time at work doesn’t always spell success.

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CONVENTIONAL WISDOM SAYS there should be a direct correlation between hours worked and performance. But the 2018 Big Survey failed to find such a clear link. The takeaway? Working smart and other variables like being in an economically strong part of the economy matter more, because when you look at the numbers, just about all jewelers work hard.

To be sure, the strugglers in our survey (defined by those who said one of the last two years had been their worst in business) tended to be over-represented at the “fewer hours” end of the band, but they were also among the jewelers putting in the longest hours at the other end of the spectrum (16 percent of the strugglers were working more than 60 hours a week compared to 12 percent for the thrivers). Overall, just about everyone was working hard: 58 percent of the respondents to the 2018 Big Survey, which attracted the participation of more than 700 independent jewelers, reported working more than 45 hours a week.

Average / Thrivers / Strugglers

Less than 30 3% / 3% / 5%

30­-39 15% / 15% / 22%

40­-45 23% / 25% / 12%

46­-50 23% / 20% / 22%

51­-60 22% / 24% /22%

61­-70 9% / 8% /12%

More than 70 3% / 4% /4%

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