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Ultimately, it’s about what’s left in your pocket at the end of the year. Here, we look at the brands, categories and strategies driving independent jewelers’ earnings.




10. What are the 3 best performing watch brands that you carry?

The Big Survey 2023: Performance

The Big Survey 2023: Performance
* Finished outside top 20 in 2022

11. Excluding sapphires, what is your bestselling colored gemstone in terms of total sales value?

The Big Survey 2023: Performance

12. What are the 3 best-performing jewelry lines that you carry?

The Big Survey 2023: Performance
* Finished outside top 20 in 2022

There’s a new top dog in this year’s Big Survey for “best-performing brand”: Sylvie Jewelry. The brand, which boasts the tagline “designed by a woman, for a woman,” has been creeping up our rankings for the past few years and finally conquered the competition, taking the No. 1 spot while squeezing past Allison-Kaufman by just two votes (64 votes vs. 62 votes). Gabriel & Co., a perennial favorite among retailers nationwide, was a comfortable 3rd with 54 votes. Stuller and Ostbye rounded out the top five with 41 votes and 32 votes, respectively

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

By overwhelming majority, respondents said lab-grown diamonds are the next breakout category, particularly in fashion jewelry. (It’s interesting how many wrote something along the lines of, “I hope I’m wrong, but lab-grown diamonds.”) Unfortunately for those “hoping they’re wrong,” naturally occurring diamonds only received 10 votes (compared to 66 for lab-grown).

Colored gemstones were also a popular prediction, receiving 31 votes. Yellow gold was suggested by 18 respondents, with one writing, “Anything yellow gold; people are wanting items that have an individuality to them and stand apart but are still simple and elegant.” Men’s jewelry, pearls and estate/vintage were all projected as future successes as well.

Other interesting predictions were stackable bracelets, transformational pieces (which can be worn multiple ways), heavy bangles and choker necklaces. And one respondent cited recent experience: “Just attended three shows. I saw a lot of stamped jewelry and basic flat metal rings and bracelets, as well as pendants with diamonds and/or color gemstones flush set in.”

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

The Big Survey 2023: Performance

Overall, jewelers earned a little more in the last year compared to the previous 12-month period. While the share of those earning more than $100,000 remained unchanged at 51%, those taking home more than $150,000 increased from 28% to 31%, or almost one in three. The biggest earners were the owners of pure jewelry retailers (31% of these owners made >$250K) as opposed to full-service jewelers or custom shops, and they tended to be located in in medium-sized cities (24% of whom made >$250K) and were male. Men accounted for 82% of the very top earners, while making up 56% of our survey base. That is more or less the same level as five years ago, but women are making progress: This year, more than a third of the women respondents, or 36%, reported making more than $100K. That’s up from just 23% in 2018.

15. What were your total sales in 2022?

Less than $100,000
$1 million-$1,499,999
$1.5 million-$2,999,999
$3 million-$5 million
More than$5 million

16. What one thing are you doing now to drive sales that you weren’t doing five years ago?

About half of respondents say they are spending more time and money on social media, specifically mentioning Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, and putting more of an emphasis on photos and a fun approach. “We’re spending a lot of time on social media that showcases new product or custom pieces we are making. It has definitely generated new customers to come in and check us out” and “Utilizing social media in conjunction with our CRM has driven business more than any other marketing medium available in the past.” Several mentioned that social media has become a full-time or a half-time job for a staff member.

The second most common response involved concentrating on clienteling: “We’re calling customers and being proactive about getting them into the store” and “We’re taking clients out to dinner for birthdays.” Others said they are texting clients more than ever before and soliciting reviews via Clientbook and Podium.

The third most common response involved selling lab-grown diamonds, although respondents did not elaborate on that topic.

Other answers:

  • “Believe it or not, displaying items as sets! It turns out that many men have not considered that women may want to wear something else with the piece being purchased.”
  • “Developing an internal culture.”
  • “Working on getting reviews from clients on Google. I find that is the one tool that works best for bringing in new clients.”

17. What one thing were you doing to drive sales five years ago that you’ve stopped doing?

Traditional advertising continues to take a hit, especially print and particularly newspaper ads, but respondents also mentioned magazines, followed by direct mail. Some also pulled back from billboards, radio and TV. Several people said they quit advertising entirely; others have stopped methods they consider overpriced.

One respondent mentioned stopping paid online search ads. “The online sites have become very saturated, and companies like Yelp have really started to nickel and dime advertisers. By the time you know it, you’re spending $3,000 to $5,000 on a listing that shows up with 15 other local jewelers. If you want higher paying leads who appreciate your time, effort, skill, knowledge and advice, then I think you need a different avenue, which is what we have chosen.”

Out of favor in the inventory category are watches, heavy gold jewelry, class rings, price point items, and bead charms. “We’ve dropped a lot of our lower-end price-point silver items, which used to constitute a lot of traffic. However, it also took away from high value gold sales and ultimately was a drag on our profit,” said one.

Also mentioned:

  • No more toxic
  • employees.
  • Stopped working Mondays.
  • Blogs.
  • “We stopped trying to compete with price. Our quality and service speak for themselves, and we are the best value overall.”
  • “Doing everything for everyone. Sometimes we did things that we shouldn’t have (especially repairs) and it ended up biting us in the butt!”

18. Have your margins increased or decreased on the following categories compared with pre-Covid times?

The Big Survey 2023: Performance

19. How competitive is your market?

It’s a shark tank
It’s probably your typically competitive local jewelry market for N. America
We’re like competitive siblings, respectful and willing to help each other
I’m the only one left

20. In your market, do you feel we are currently in or are headed for:

The Big Survey 2023: Performance

NOTE: Jewelers in the West were most bullish with 8% predicting we’re on the brink of another boom, while those in Canada were most bearish with 39% seeing a recession ahead. Those in the Southwest were most likely to admit being uncertain — 29% said they had no idea.

21. rate how business friendly your state is on a scale of 1-5.

The Big Survey 2023: Performance

NOTE: Figures represent a weighted average. Only states with more than 5 responses were included.



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