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Brands, businesses, categories and employees are ultimately judged by how they perform. Here we look at some of these areas to see who and what is thriving and how that often incremental success is being achieved.




10. As a store owner, what did you earn (salary + bonuses + share of profit) last year?

The Big Survey 2022: Performance

11. What were your total sales in 2021? (If you have more than one store, please tell us the average per store.)

2021 / 2016

Less than $100,000

3% / 7%


7% / 12%

$250,000 to $499,999

12% / 16%

$500,000 to $999,999

20% / 28%

$1 million to $1,499,999

18% / 16%

$1.5 million to $2,999,999

21% / 13%

$3 million to $5 million

8% / 5%

$5 million to $10 million

8% / 4%

$10 million to $20 million


More than $20 million


The last five years have been good to independent jewelers with almost 60% now reporting sales of $1 million or more. That compares with just 38% in 2016.

12. Over the last 10 years has the percentage of total business grown, stayed stable or shrunk in the following categories?

The Big Survey 2022: Performance

13. What change did you make in the last 5 years that had the most impact on your profitability?

The Big Survey 2022: PerformanceJewelers say they are adding lab-grown diamonds to their inventory, concentrating more on custom design and/or bridal, charging more for repairs, dumping aged inventory, hiring a sorely needed store manager or another bench jeweler, systematically texting clients, and embracing online sales. They’re also buying equipment, especially laser welders, upgraded microscopes and 3D printers.

  • Stopped buying filler stock for the cases. It takes manpower to set up, break down, clean and polish, and inventory. It doesn’t matter what we have, “Do you have it in another color?” became too frustrating. So we ditched it, focus on finding what the customer wants, and get that. Everyone is happier.
  • Invested over $30,000 in state-of-the-art equipment and our custom design bridal has boomed now that we can do it in half the time that the mall stores can. Most mall stores are taking two weeks for repairs. We have hired another jeweler and have tripled our custom and repair business. Also, we are buying gold and bigger diamonds from walk-in customers, which has increased our margin by 15 percent.
  • I stopped apologizing for the cost of repairs. Cars, homes, clothing … everything needs to be kept up. I don’t understand why people get so upset about having to pay for jewelry repairs, especially when most of the pieces have been worn daily for years!
  • Strategically monitored our margin. Our competitors were selling at a higher price. We became more in line with the industry standard of pricing and saw that customers genuinely wanted to shop with us, purchase from us, and establish that relationship over that of an online competitor.
  • I know silver is considered a high-margin category, but aside from a couple designer collections, we stopped selling it. Our average ticket jumped substantially and that in turn helped with profitability.
  • Recognized our niche and bought more higher-end merchandise and quality.
  • I started charging for small jobs I used to do for free: cleaning, replacing small stones, sizing. It all adds up.
  • Reducing memo and buying and making basics to maximize profit potential.
  • Reduction of staff: Sad, but true.
  • We hired a new accountant who filed three years of amended tax returns and netted us about $18,000.

14. What are the three best-performing jewelry brands that you carry in your store?

The Big Survey 2022: PerformanceThe Big Survey 2022: Performance

Allison-Kaufman, Gabriel & Co. and Stuller remained the three best-performing brands in independent jewelry stores, according to respondents to this year’s Big Survey. For the first time ever, Allison-Kaufman took over the top slot, beating second place Gabriel & Co. by 20 votes (72 votes vs. 52 votes). Stuller (38 votes), Sylvie (31 votes) and Hearts on Fire (19 votes) remained strong as well, rounding out the top five brands.

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

The Big Survey 2022: Performance


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

  • More than 25 percent of respondents mentioned “lab-grown diamonds” — an absolutely huge number. The next most popular answer was “permanent jewelry,” a style that’s catching on across the country, with some retailers even holding events around the category. That said, even some of those who tabbed it as the next big trend said they weren’t taking part. As one respondent said, “Once the stupid ‘forever bracelets’ are over with, we will move on to putting clasps back on them … and lawsuits following the lacerations caused by snagging them, LOL.”
  • Yellow gold continues to trend in independent jewelry stores as well, with one respondent saying, “Over the recent years, white gold has been in the lead when it comes to buying gold. However, we are beginning to see two-tone and yellow gold on the rise with many 80s trends returning.”
  • Custom jewelry remains popular, and notably, several respondents said men’s jewelry sales were picking up for them. Wearable tech is also catching on, particularly jewelry that incorporates health sensors.
  • Other trends suggested by multiple respondents included fashion/gold-plated jewelry, retro styles, tennis necklaces and bracelets, ear cuffs, and paper-clip designs.

17. What percentage of your sales come from the showcase (owned inventory vs custom orders, repairs, appraisals and memo/consignment, etc)?

Less than 10%



This Third-Generation Jeweler Was Ready for Retirement. He Called Wilkerson

Retirement is never easy, especially when it means the end to a business that was founded in 1884. But for Laura and Sam Sipe, it was time to put their own needs first. They decided to close J.C. Sipe Jewelers, one of Indianapolis’ most trusted names in fine jewelry, and call Wilkerson. “Laura and I decided the conditions were right,” says Sam. Wilkerson handled every detail in their going-out-of-business sale, from marketing to manning the sales floor. “The main goal was to sell our existing inventory that’s all paid for and turn that into cash for our retirement,” says Sam. “It’s been very, very productive.” Would they recommend Wilkerson to other jewelers who want to enjoy their golden years? Absolutely! “Call Wilkerson,” says Laura. “They can help you achieve your goals so you’ll be able to move into retirement comfortably.”

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