In fiscal 2016, the US retail jewelry industry continued to adapt to the converging long-term trends of a shrinking brick-and-mortar footprint, growth in online sales, and unsteady consumer spending. Total sales of jewelry at US retail jewelry stores increased slightly in 2016 year-over-year but still fell short of 2014 sales figures, data from the latest US Census shows. US jewelry stores sold $31.43 billion worth of merchandise in 2016, compared with $30.28 billion in 2015, an increase of 3.8 percent.
Since we last looked at the trends, styles and designs that are leading the way in the retail jewelry industry, the mood of customers and the industry at large have undergone some changes. Certain design trends that were taking off in 2014 have become the mainstream today, while other trends that we couldn’t have predicted two years ago are now firmly embedded in popular culture. In particular, a few abstract themes – nature, sentimentality, and asymmetry – are present or dominant across all aspects of jewelry design and manufacturing. Ethical sourcing is a growing concern in jewelry supply chain, advertising and public relations.
In 2016, the retail jewelry industry in the United States continued to adapt to falling diamond prices, high numbers of jewelry store closures, and an industry-wide liquidity crunch that, combined with rock-bottom prices offered by online-only retailers and foreign suppliers, is putting downward pressure on gem and jewelry prices at every step of supply chain.
At the retail level, more jewelry businesses in the United States ceased their operations in 2015 than in 2014, while major retailers continued to shutter stores and shrink their distribution networks. Online retail sales across all categories continued to grow at a healthy rate, while sales of jewelry at retail stores in the U.S. grew at the slowest pace since 2011.
The Christmas season was generally a positive one for jewelry stores in 2015, as many top retailers enjoyed increased same-store sales and growing net revenues. The picture was not as rosy for luxury and apparel retailers, some of whom a few enjoyed a positive Q3 while others, such as Macy’s, ended the year by laying off thousands of employees in the wake of weak holiday season sales.
Jewelry brands under the Signet umbrella fared particularly well, as mainstays Kay and Jared the Galleria posted strong growth over last year’s sales figures. Zale and Piercing Pagoda benefited from increased same-store sales, while Gordon’s year-on-year sales dropped considerably for the holiday season.
Nathan Munn | Polygon.net
November 6, 2015 - Prices of polished natural diamonds fell by more than 10% between 2011 and 2015 according to Idex, while the Zimnisky Global Rough Diamond Price Index shows that prices of rough dropped about 11% from Oct. 2014 to Oct. 2015. Neither trend shows any sign of turning around any time soon.
Download this free industry report to learn more about the decline of diamond prices.
On March 15, 2015, the world’s largest diamond ‘greenhouse’ opened for business in Singapore. Owned and operated by IIa Technologies, the facility is a sprawling testament to the potential of disruptive innovation. Located in an industrial area of Singapore, the complex spans 200,000 square feet; inside, around 200 state-of-the-art machines produce Type IIa diamonds around the clock using the Microwave Plasma Chemical Vapor Deposition (MPCVD) method.
Retail jewelers in the United States continued to adapt to challenges and changes throughout the industry in 2014, with price deflation, slow sales and a growing market share among online retailers standing out as the most significant obstacles for traditional brick-and-mortar jewelers. For the first time in 15 years, simultaneous price deflation affected both jewelry consumers and jewelry suppliers. Prices of retail jewelry fell by 3% in 2014, while supplier-side prices plummeted 7%, resulting in slimmer margins for retail jewelers and suppliers.
The face of the jewelry industry has changed greatly since the global financial crisis hit in 2008. The environment has become increasingly competitive, particularly for smaller independent retail jewelers, and competition is no longer only local but has gone global in scale.
As we approach what tends to be the busiest time of year for retail jewelers, it’s a good time to take a look at what’s selling, what’s not, which brands are increasing their sales and market share, and what the average retail jeweler is experiencing from their side of the sales counter. We took the time to speak to Polygon members about the trends they are seeing in jewelry retailing, researched how brands are capturing the attention of customers, and how retailers are planning to leverage their physical store and online presences to profit from contemporary buying habits this season.
David Geller has been a member and active contributor to Polygon since 1997, offering real-world advice, valuable business insights and proven sales strategies to the Polygon community. From the storefront to the jewelry bench, David’s expertise is renowned in the retail jewelry industry, and he has helped countless retail jewelers improve their business practices, eliminate unnecessary costs and increase profits.
The jewelry industry’s most active online community & trading network