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The Big Survey 2018: Selling

See jewelry stores' best performers, top categories and expected breakout products.




What is selling in jewelry stores today — especially the thriving stores — and how are they selling it? The stores doing best are targeting millennials and professional women, and they’re more likely to prominently discount their “dogs.”


10. What are the 3 best-performing brand-name jewelry lines that you carry?

While the top two names remained the same from last year, Hearts on Fire made a big jump while Pandora dropped three places.


11. What do you think will be the next breakout trend in jewelry?

Top 10 Trends:
1. The return of yellow gold
2. Laboratory-created diamonds
3. Custom design
4. Color stones in engagement rings
5. A big look: Huge hoops, big dangles, long pendants
6. Engagement rings without halos
7. Baguettes
8. Estate, antique and vintage looks
9. Responsible sourcing
10. Rough-cut and rose-cut gemstones


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

1. Citizen
2. Seiko
3. Bulova

4. Rolex
5. Belair
6. Pulsar
7. Tissot
8. Tag Heuer
9. Obaku
10. Movado
10. Victorinox Swiss Army
12. Michelle
12. Reactor
15. Skagen
15. Timex
17. Shinola
17. Fossil
17. Luminox
20. Charles Hubert Paris
1. Citizen
2. Seiko
3. Bulova

4. Rolex
5. Belair
6. Pulsar
7. Tissot
8. Tag Heuer
9. Bering
10. Reactor



13. What is your core customer demographic?

This chart indicates the percentage breakdown of thriving stores, struggling stores and average stores by client demographic.

NOTE: The chart makes it clear, it’s more likely you’ll do well when your key customers are also doing well and have cash to spend on life’s nicer things.


14. When a piece of jewelry reaches “dog” status, what’s your typical markdown?

Less than 5%
More than 50%
I never mark down


15. Which age group do you consider your target demographic?

60s and older

Comment: The thriving stores are clearly focused on a younger cohort, and primarily on millennials, the oldest of whom turned 37 in 2018. In contrast, stores who have struggled over the past few years continue to pursue their older customers. Solving the riddle of how to cater to millennials clearly appears to be one of the keys to thriving in 2018.



16. For every 100 bridal rings you sell, how many do you sell in each metal type?


17. Merchandising Box. Please answer Yes or No.

Do you display prices prominently?
33%  67%
Do you have props in your display cases?
81%  19%
Do you have a sales/dogs/goodbye-to-old-friends case?
51%  49%
Do you have a “New Items” case?
19%  81%
Do you know your case sales per linear foot?
26%  74%
Do you offer profiles of artists you carry?
37%  63%
Do you use the Good/Better/Best principle in merchandising layout?
31%  69%

NOTE: Compared to their struggling peers, thriving stores are …
– More likely to have a good-bye to friends case
– Less likely to have a new items case
– More likely to offer profiles of artists
– Less likely to display prices prominently
– More likely to know their case sales per linear foot


18. Has the rise of millennials been good or bad for business?

COMMENT: This question produced one of the clearest points of separation between the thrivers and strugglers in 2018: Those stores having their best years have worked out how to ride the Millennial wave.



19. Which of the following would you regard as the demographic group with the most potential in the next 3 to 5 years?

Struggling stores seem to be overly focused on Baby Boomers and not interested enough in professional female purchasers.

COMMENT: Baby Boomers are still “self-indulgent” but they are ageing quickly, notes Sherry Smith, director of business development at the Edge Retail Academy. She adds that jewelers need to do a better job of catering to self-purchasers, especially professional women, who are likely to be in your store more than any other group of customers, particularly gift-buying men who are often the targets of jewelers’ marketing campaigns.

Over the years, INSTORE has won 76 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at




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Big Survey

Here’s How Jewelers Knew They Had ‘Made It’

Jewelers share their most meaningful measures of success.



RETAIL JEWELERS SAY they knew they had “made it” when they drove home a new Porsche or an Escalade. But they REALLY knew they had a success story when they could take a day off once a week, take a vacation, or their stress level “dropped to zero.”

  • My daughter wanted to work here.
  • I sold a $10,000 sapphire sight unseen over the phone to an established customer.
  • The mayor dedicated a day of the year in our name.
  • My customer base exceeded 5,000.
  • I got my store name printed on our plastic bags, our ribbon and our tissue paper.
  • My accountant said I have net worth and should make a will.
  • I could retire.
  • My stress level dropped to zero.
  • I hit my first million-dollar store.
  • Dad said he was proud of me.
  • I see my work around someone’s neck or on their finger and I see them show off their jewelry and point to me and tell the other people, “She is the one that created this for me.”
  • A four-day work week.
  • I consistently started selling 2-carat diamonds and larger.
  • I drove home my brand-new Porsche.
  • I bought my Escalade.
  • I bought my building.
  • When I heard the sleigh bells on the rooftop.
  • I stopped getting a tax refund.
  • I can take a vacation.
  • I was at a local restaurant and ran into a client. She began to sing the store’s jingle from our radio ads.
  • I reached my goal of a million dollars cost in inventory with no debt ever.
  • I pay my parents more than they have ever made in their lives not to come to work.
  • I was no longer concerned with December’s numbers. It’s not that I don’t care. I just don’t worry about it. Pay for your inventory during the year and you will have a relaxed December!
  • An engagement ring client said our store had been around his entire life and of course he was coming here to buy!
  • My customers and people I don’t know tell me how good of a jeweler I am.
  • I was sitting across the boardroom table from Nicholas Oppenheimer at the CSO in London.
  • I wake up smiling because I get to come to work. I’m unemployable anywhere else and I love (mostly all of) it!
  • Everyone wanted my job.
  • I heard the hammer fall on an empty chamber.
  • I don’t need to be in the store and sales happen and customers are happy.
  • I quit advertising and sales continued to go up.
  • We made it past our first 10 years in business.
  • I no longer did more wholesale than retail.
  • Customers were coming in from three states away.
  • I finished this survey.
  • My competitors came to visit our new store.
  • I didn’t have to worry about the rent.
  • The first year I had to pay taxes on the store profits!
  • I could afford to blow 100 bucks on dinner.
  • I saw the logo stamp.
  • New England Patriots come in my store for jewelry.
  • Big-name brands I couldn’t get to take my calls suddenly started calling me.
  • A local charity expected us to make a 6-figure donation.
  • People started handing me their jewelry in the grocery store to bring in for repair.
  • At a recent chi-chi charity fundraising event, four of the high-profile attendees are clients in the middle of big projects.
  • She put her hands on her hip and said to him, well.
  • When people introduce me as Rosanne from the jewelry store.
  • Gold prices went to $1,800 per ounce.
  • I survived 2010.
  • They were actually sad at my funeral.
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Big Survey

Here’s How Jewelers Are Driving Sales Today (Hint: Things Are Changing Rapidly)

‘Online, online and online,’ said one jeweler.



IN THIS YEAR’S Big Survey, jewelers report increasing their digital footprint and throwing more time, money and thought into social media, especially Facebook, as well as their websites and dipping a toe at least into e-commerce. They also say they are recognizing the extreme importance of customer reviews, and contacting customers by email and text.

While even as recently as five years ago, some may have considered social media a passing fad, it seems clear that in 2018, retailers now recognize its importance and make it a priority.

Here are some comments:

  • “Online, online and online.”
  • “More internet.”
  • “We started putting together community events with local non-profits that have not only generated great publicity but also helped raise over $40,000 for local efforts.”
  • “Instituting interest free five-year financing and building the bridal line to be the largest in the county.”
  • “Online storefront via our website.”
  • “Paying close attention to what I buy.”
  • Financing (longer terms).

What are they doing less of? Traditional advertising, specifically traditional print advertising, and more specifically, newspapers.

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Big Survey

Big Survey: Here’s What Jewelers Are Doing To Prepare for the Next Economic Downturn

‘Making hay while the sun shines,’ said one jeweler.



WHILE SOME JEWELERS are just “rolling with it,” and others are doing their best to manage inventory, stay debt free and market consistently, others (you know who you are!) are holding your breath, praying or bingeing on comfort food to banish those negative thoughts.

Here are a range of additional comments on that topic:

    • We have chosen to ignore it, just like Wall Street has.
    • Just riding the wave until it crashes into the shore.
    • Investing in equipment.
    • Making hay while the sun shines.
    • Still trying to get to the upturn.
    • We are shrinking our stock with faster moving and better selling items.
    • By doing more for the client than they ask for.
    • Banking it will last 10 more years.
    • Ride this pony for all she has left.
    • Making new inventory from gems I own.
    • Purchasing more real estate and more diamonds.
    • Keeping on top of trends.
    • Pushing the fashion category because bridal will come on its own.
    • Downsizing.
    • Trying to create meaningful relationships with our customers so they remember us later.
    • Renovating, training and hiring more experienced people to maintain an edge.
    • Plan to own the building by then so our monthly expenses are minimum. And there’s an apartment upstairs so we have a place to live — just in case.
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