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Jewelry is often characterized as a retail sector that is bound to its past and slow to innovate. But as this section shows, such criticism is unfair. Jewelers have to be nimble and quick to embrace new fashions, new ways of selling and ready to embrace challenges to their core product, such as that presented by lab-grown diamonds.

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11. What are the 3 best-performing brand-name jewelry lines that you carry based on both the financial return and the effort required to sell them?

Big Siuvey top 3 jewelry brands

big survey 2020 top jewelry table

12. What are the three best performing watch brands that you carry?

Big survey top watch brands

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

1. ROLEX
2. PATEK PHILIPPE
3. OMEGA
4. David Yurman
5. CartierTIE
5. TAG HeuerTIE
7. Gabriel & Co.
8. BulovaTIE
8. ShinolaTIE
10. CitizenTIE
10. TudorTIE

COMMENT: 72 percent of respondents said they did not want to add any brands. For comparison’s sake, the No. 1 brand on our list, Rolex, received 6 percent of the votes.

14. If you could hold a trunk show of any designer in the world (with his or her participation), who would it be?

1. DAVID YURMAN
2. ROLEX
3. ROBERTO COIN TIE
3. Simon GTIE
5. Cartier
6. Harry WinstonTIE
6. Sylvie CollectionTIE
8. Gabriel & Co.TIE
8. TiffanyTIE

15. What do you think will be the next breakout category in jewelry?

  1. Lab-grown diamonds. By far the largest number of jewelers responded to this question by citing the continuing popularity of laboratory-grown diamonds for engagement rings and fashion jewelry, specifically mentioning lab-grown diamonds set in metals ranging from silver and 10K gold to platinum. This was also considered the top trend in the 2019 survey.
  2. Custom. Jewelers believe custom jewelry will continue to drive sales. “During the COVID-19 shutdowns our foot traffic diminished to a crawl, however our custom jewelry items took off,” said one respondent. “We had a customer stationed overseas contact us for a very unique and beautiful piece.” Another said custom clients and not industry trends will drive business: “That’s the thing about custom. Our clients will let us know.”
  3. Yellow gold. In any and every style from bold to delicate and layered.
  4. Earrings. All types were mentioned, an idea driven in part by the fact women want jewelry that looks good in the virtual world. “Something that has great movement and is good to wear during Zoom meetings.” Some of the specific types mentioned include: Statement earrings, large diamond stud earrings, dangle earrings with diamonds or color as well as smaller earring that do not catch on masks.
  5. Female self-purchase trends. Dainty bracelets and smaller necklaces, often worn layered, are predicted to become even more popular as are bezel-set solitaire pendants set in yellow gold. “Thin rings and delicate pendants in yellow gold with precious stones, turquoise, diamond beads and sapphires.” Stackable rings and bracelets, too.
  6. Chains. “It’s already happening. Gold chains a la ‘80s style,” said one respondent. Also mentioned: paperclip chains with diamond accents, heavy curb and Cuban-link necklaces and all styles of link bracelets and necklaces for both men and women.
  7. Divergent bridal looks. Organic, rustic and rough-cut diamonds were mentioned frequently in the bridal category, as was almost the polar opposite: a return to simple, traditional solitaires. Also mentioned more than once: colored gemstones, an emphasis on wedding bands, yellow gold, fancy shapes, bigger diamonds, estate diamonds and ethically sourced diamonds and gold.
  8. Affordable options. Survey respondents believe that gold-plated jewelry, lower carat gold, vermeil and mixed metals will increasingly be in demand as the price of gold has risen. That includes sterling silver set with precious gemstones.
  9. Personalized jewelry. This included emotionally inspired uplifting pieces and women’s empowerment jewelry, as well as push jewelry, family jewelry and commemorative jewelry. “I recently sold a COVID cuff to a woman. A 30 mm cuff bracelet engraved with the initials of all the people who weren’t able to attend her wedding because of the coronavirus,” one respondent said.
  10. Tech jewelry. Men and women will increasingly look for smart wearable jewelry and seek out smart watch bands that look more like jewelry. They will also seek out jewelry related to personal electronics, such as Fitbit covers and thumb-drive pendants.
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16. What percentage of your online sales are returned?

Less than 10%
66%
10-20%
2%
21-30%
0.5%
31-40%
0.5%
NA
31%

17. The average price of the jewelry you sell online is …

Less than $250
22%
$250-$500
18%
$500-$750
9%
$750-$1,000
8%
$1,000 to $1,500
9%
$1,500 to $2,000
5%
$2000 to $3,000
4%
More than $3,000
4%
NA
23%
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18. How would you describe the contribution of e-commerce — via your website, Facebook, Instagram, eBay, etc — to total sales?

Nonexistent
13%
Insignificant (1-10%)
44%
Moderate (11-25%)
30%
Substantial (26-50%)
11%
Main source of revenue (50% or more)
2%

19. What type of jewelry/product have you found sells best online?

big survey 2020 online best sellers

20. On what online platforms have you actually completed a sale of jewelry?

social media icons and stats on phone screen

NOTE: In descending order, “Others” included Podium, 1st Dibs, Amazon, Facetime, Shopify, LinkedIn, Chrono24.

21. What’s the largest number of engagement rings you’ve sold to one man (or woman) over the lifetime of a client relationship?

Big Survey 2020 graph engagement rings

COMMENT: When jewelers talk about loyalty and establishing relationships with customers, usually they mean selling a couple an engagement ring and following up with a lifetime of special occasion purchases. But, sometimes, these client relationships, while still potentially lucrative, take an unconventional turn when customers are unlucky in love.

Said one respondent, who sold three engagement rings to the same guy: “At least he was loyal to me, if not to his wives.” Said another, “We sold seven to one guy, he was married seven times; we call him a very good customer!”

The record, according to this survey, was 13 rings sold to a customer described as a Casanova, who is now, sadly, deceased.

It helps if each new fiancé wants a bigger diamond than the last. But the worst repeat customers are the ones who keep wanting to rework the same ring and make it “new” for the unsuspecting fiancé to be. Also problematic are those who want to put in a CZ and present it as a diamond.

One jeweler sold three rings to one customer who jumped the gun every time: “The man would come buy a new one once he started a new relationship. He was the kind of man who clung to a woman better than cling wrap does to bowls. He would buy it way too soon, ask way too soon and get dumped. Move on to the next woman and do the same thing.”

Sometimes, the business of multiple engagement rings demands a special skill set from the jeweler: “After the fourth marriage, he said he would never do it again,” a respondent said. “He wanted his wedding band sized to fit his middle toe. I had to get on my knees to size his toe. He’s now happily married to No. 5.”

Another important skill is making each reappearance of the serial engagement ring purchaser as special as the very first. “There is no such thing as a used diamond,” says one jeweler. “We have a great guy that makes bad choices. We trade in his ring every three years or so for a new one. We act like he is a new customer every time he brings his new gal in and he looks like a king with the big rock he gets!!”

One jeweler has sold five engagement rings to a high school friend. “I told him that I will not sell him another but would just lease it.”

But at least one jeweler found love, along with commerce, in the process of selling multiple rings: “Twenty-five years ago, Lisa found my shop and had me make her first engagement ring, as she was to marry her high school sweetheart. That didn’t last long and some years later she was back to design another ring with me. Eight years ago, she had to pay a lawyer for the second divorce and turned to me with the ring I’d made. I was quite proud of that piece and knew who would write a check on the spot. I let Lisa know that I’d experienced a divorce only a few years ago and would be happy to share what I’d learned. Two years later I made her third engagement ring and now we are sharing a home. I love you, Lisa!!”

22. Do you sell lab-grown diamonds?

big survey 2020 lab-grown diamonds

23. If you do sell lab-grown diamonds, how does your average ticket size compare to that of your natural diamond sales? Lab-grown diamond sales are:

lab-grown diamonds

Much bigger (25% or higher)
6%
Bigger
10%
Much the same
25%
Smaller
30%
Much smaller (25% or lower)
28%
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24. And the margins, how do they compare with the margins on natural diamonds? Margins on lab-grown diamonds are:

Much bigger (25% or higher)
28%
Bigger
42%
Much the same
23%
Smaller
5%
Much smaller (25% or lower)
2%

25. Of the engagement rings you sell, what percentage have lab-grown center stones?

0%
42%
Less than 10%
30%
10-20%
7%
21-30%
6%
31-40%
6%
41-50%
4%
More than 50%
5%

26. If you sell lab-grown engagement rings, what roughly is the average size of the center stone?

big survey 2020 center stone size

Over the years, INSTORE has won 80 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at [email protected].

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