Birthstones Are Bestsellers

Birthstones ImageBelief in gem powers has survived for nearly 5,000 years in the birthstone tradition. The oldest jewelry tradition is the concept of linking birth dates with particular gems and attributing the ability to influence the wearer’s fate to those stones. Because gemstones are created by nature, humans have historically felt a primal link to their energy.

Depending on which experts you talk to, notions of gems as powerful charms were born in ancient India and Babylonia. Both cultures elevated the idea that gems harbor magical powers and virtues linked to the moon, sun, and planets. From its astrological genesis, the birthstone concept made its way into Judeo-Christian tradition centuries later, with its symbol a 12-gem-set breastplate that theologians developed interpretations of what each stone signified.

The list of birthstones used today came into being in 1912 by the National Association of Jewelers from lists that evolved over the centuries from various cultures and traditions. Even since then, the list continues to be tweaked with gem alternatives, adding in 1952 alexandrite for June, tourmaline for October, citrine for November, and zircon for December. Then, fifty years later, in 2002, tanzanite became a gem option for December, and in 2016, spinel joined the list as another choice for August.

Crystals are a mounting trend among the younger generations of consumers. In fact, Etsy merchandiser Emily Bidwell told Refinery29 in 2017 that crystals have been a “mounting trend” on the website for the past decade. In an article last February, The Guardian declared crystals “one of the breakout stars of the everyday wellness movement” — yoga, meditation, alternative medicine, supplements, and essential oils — citing a 40% increase in Google searches for “crystal healing.” Young celebrities, including Kylie Jenner, Katy Perry, and Miranda Kerr, as well as fashion designers like Victoria Beckham, Mary Kate, and Ashley Olsen, inspire the movement for products like gemstones that promote well-being.

Moreover, millennials have been more open to gemstones in engagement rings and wedding bands to signify the couple’s birthstones or even the stone representing the month they met, according to an article in The Guardian, March 2017, about the popularity of birthstones among the younger generations.

Get Personal

Color stones allow jewelers to get personal. Birthstones are the go-to design element that personalizes any piece. The Ostbye Traditional Birthstone Jewelrycolor versatility of the stones, as well as their meanings and timeless appeal, make birthstone jewelry the perfect accessory and keepsake. Not only are there gem alternatives for every month, but many of the gem varieties that are birthstones come in different colors, like garnet in January or sapphire in September.

Birthstone jewelry is something every jeweler should carry and incorporate as a custom design opportunity. “Jewelers should have a few styles to offer in birthstone jewelry,” advocates Theresa Namie, Merchandise Manager Ostbye, Minneapolis, Minnesota. “It pleases the traditional customer when presented in the more classic designs. And, it appeals to the modern woman who likes bezels and stackables, making a statement of fashion and heart.”

Birthstone PendantAmong the jewelry styles that lend themselves well to this trend are stackable birthstone bands and bezel rings. She describes these bestsellers as ideal for representing the wearer’s birthstone and those of loved ones, a popular choice as an updated mother’s ring look, or to celebrate special anniversaries. And, she reminds us that birthstones can be bought by and for a variety of people and occasions, as well as self-purchase.

With the New York City-based Color Merchants, Allison Peck sees styling with birthstones as more about storytelling than matching colors. “Each color is personal to each customer,” she says. “If they’re looking for an amethyst, they’re going to choose a style first, then the stone, since all stones are available in the birthstone category. We see popularity increase with different colors depending on the time of year, just because of the specific month’s color.”

Peck advocates that every jewelry retailer should carry at least the basic birthstone styles (basic birthstone stud display in 3mm, 4mm, and 5mm sizes), whether the store’s average ticket is $100 or $10,000+. “It’s a quick sale for the customer. They are not looking to spend a lot but want a piece considered fine jewelry.” Someone is celebrating a birthday or an anniversary every day of the year.

Birthstones have become a huge part of the gemstone category, says Karen Crowe, Marketing/Merchandising for Birthstone NecklaceQuality Gold, Fairfield, Ohio. Not only does the manufacturer have birthstone collections in all jewelry styles, but birthstones are a popular choice to customize any piece — added to monograms, signet rings, heart pendants, and signature jewelry.

In addition to using birthstones, three-, four-, and five-stone diamond bands are popular, signifying family members or denoting one stone per decade for milestone anniversaries or birthdays.

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