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How has the jewelry retail industry changed as the world continues to grapple with pandemic challenges?
Despite the ramped-up vaccination program in many countries, the world tries to tread carefully, with many doing a balancing act between economy and health. The jewelry industry was one of the many first-wave casualties of the pandemic — jewelry events were canceled while some jewelry stores closed and others like Alex and Ani filed for bankruptcy.
Still, not all is lost.
In fact, fine jewelry sold nearly 10% more in August last year than it did in the same month of the previous year. You could attribute this to jewelers’ adaptability skills, the changing consumer shopping behavior that has favored digital jewelers, and the speed at which many jewelry retailers pivoted and tried new business models.
Here, we’ll explore all the emerging jewelry sales and trends that many jewelers have to navigate to keep jewelry businesses afloat—surviving, if not thriving.
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The Next Big Hits: Top Jewelry Sales and Trends
1. Getting engaged
When the pandemic struck, many predicted that jewelry sales would plummet. Reasonably, with recurring lockdowns and social distancing in effect, who would have predicted otherwise?
It was a logical assumption. No in-person gatherings mean no wedding parties; but like jewelers, consumers have adapted quickly to the challenges of time. This brought us to the trend of getting engaged.
According to Signet Jewelers in its proprietary research on Love in the time of Corona (yes, a play on the title of Love in the Time of Cholera by Latin America’s literary icon, Gabriel Garcia Marquez), the pandemic has become a time of awakening for many as they realized that they don’t have all the time in the world to make things happen. That they only live once and tomorrow is not promised. Hence, 48% of couples who quarantined together found that such a time together had strengthened their relationships while 12% sped up their plans to propose, and then there are those who planned to splurge on bridal jewelry.
Proof of this awakening is the soaring engagement ring sales, especially now that we start to ease our way back to normal. For instance, an LA-based jewelry brand Mark Broumand Inc., speaking to CNN, reported that their fine jewelry sales in June 2021 were 20% higher than it was in June 2019. Considering that their sales fell dramatically in June 2020 when compared to the pre-pandemic year, you could say that they rose like a phoenix.
A shift in celebration budgets
Constrained by circumstances, couples have not only reimagined the way they express love but also re-assessed their celebration budgets. Although some countries are slowly reopening their economy, many are still wary to hold all-out celebrations. In reconsidering a lot of factors, venues, dress, guests, and food have all taken budget cuts that are, then, diverted to bridal jewelry.
This reconsideration made couples invest in bigger, higher-quality diamonds.
With demands for engagement rings skyrocketing, you know what follows—the prices are also going up.
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2. Alternative engagement rings
As the engagement trend continues, so is the search for the perfect engagement ring.
According to JCK 2021 State of the Jewelry, alternative engagement rings continue to be one of the identified trends this year. This follows other similar trends like non-traditional partnerships and non-traditional weddings and marriages.
Morganite, moissanite, jade, and tanzanite are just a few of the popular alternatives. Morganite, for example, has been popular among millennials for its whimsical pink-to-orange-to-coral shade of beryl.
This is not to say that diamonds have been outshined. The Knot reported that diamonds still reign supreme when it comes to engagement rings, but the rise of alternatives has been unprecedented, especially with the current situation. Additionally, many couples have been looking for an engagement ring that would make them stand out with the right price point.
If none of these alternatives makes the cut, don’t forget that a lab-grown diamond is waiting on the side. The next best thing to a natural diamond, lab-grown diamonds have the same chemical and physical property as the natural ones, but without the ethical issues that come with the latter, so they claimed.
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3. Rising demand for gold metals
The rising demand for gold did not escape this year’s list of jewelry sales trends, the pandemic version. In the same report by JCK, gold was voted the top metal for 2021 followed by white gold and rose gold.
While imports of other goods in to the US ebbed, imports of gold surged.
You can say that the influx of gold and other precious metals in the US was a reflection of the people’s lack of confidence in the government’s handling of the pandemic. Gold, after all, is also an investment that other jewelers have taken advantage of as jewelry buyers started to demand it. Fearing the future, people have become risk-aversed and decided to secure their assets in whatever safe haven.
Further, gold jewelry is an accessible investment for many. Starting from $100, anyone can secure a piece of investment that they can also use at home in one of those fatiguing Zoom meetings.
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While I’m pretty sure it never completely left, layering is one of the jewelry trends that’s driving jewelry sales at this time of the year.
Layering jewelry pieces—arm candy, necklaces, chokers, and chains—is the top trend in the JCK List, up from its second spot in the pre-pandemic year.
There are many reasons for this. First, layering allows your buyers to mix different metals and still look stylish. Second, it stimulates your buyers’ imagination as it encourages them to become more visually creative. And lastly, it’s pandemic! Everyone’s cocooning, and with the sharp rise in Zoom meetings, accessorizing from the waist up gives buyers the moment to don layered necklaces—helping them look put-together despite the isolation.
Yes, I know, some have more freedom now than others as more and more people get vaccinated. You can see it by the number of people flocking to the beach and other tourist destinations that were once empty. But after all the restrictions, there’s nothing wrong with embracing maximalism in fashion or in jewelry. So layer up! Wear multiple rings, bracelets, and necklaces. There’s no limit to accessorizing when you get your freedom back.
As for jewelers, this is your chance to sell more than one piece of jewelry at once.
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5. The colorful world of colored gemstones
Colored gemstones pose another sales opportunity for many jewelers as their usage in ornaments and jewelry continues to increase.
In fact, JCK reported that 42% of its polled jewelers noted customers’ interest in colored gemstones. You can attribute this to the increasing demand for customization. Colored gems provide customers with more alternatives other than colorless diamonds. It, then, gives them the chance to have a more personalized design and subsequently, stand out.
The trendy colored gemstones were visible in the recent Met Gala. There were a lot of sapphires and rubies (and diamonds, too!). However, it’s not the traditional blue that would turn heads this time as blue-greens, montana, teal, and grays steal the spotlight.
Overall, the colored gem industry is fairly strong and this could mean strong sales for you given the right strategy.
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Futureproof your business by keeping tabs on current jewelry sales and trends
It’s been a year of disruption. It’s time to shake up and pivot strategy to survive the crippling impacts of the pandemic.
Which of these present jewelry sales and jewelry trends have you observed recently? How are you responding to them? Let us know in the comment section below!