Color gemstones, and birthstones specifically, offer jewelers a profitable, consistent selling product category.
Birthstones and colorful gem-set jewelry is preferred by a majority of jewelry consumers, finds The Plumb Club Industry & Market Insights 2021 report. Sixty percent of the over 1,000 U.S. jewelry consumers surveyed in early 2021 say they look for jewelry with a birthstone in the design because of its meaning.
“Unlike beautiful crystal-clear white diamonds, colorful gemstones have a stronger emotional appeal for most people,” describes Siera Burt, graphic designer and marketing coordinator for SDC Creations. “This appeal comes from the instantaneous connections we all make towards colors – whether those connections are the feelings we get when looking at certain colors or our unconscious recognition of a color’s deeper meaning.”
People associate red rubies with love and passion, yellow-orange citrines with happiness, blue topaz and sapphire with serenity, Burt cites as examples. People are influenced by their birthstones and favorite colors, which impact their psychology often drawing them to vibrant gemstone displays.
Consumers are buying more than just their own birthstone to wear, attracted to other gems and colors for a multitude of reasons, including a way of keeping loved ones close, finds Mathew Behnam, vice president of sales and marketing Samuel B. The designer jewelry brand’s consistent bestselling program is its birthstone collection in jewelry styles that lend themselves to layering.
The popular fashion portal whowhatwear.com hails birthstones a more subtle way of personalizing jewelry, a less obvious symbol that’s more like a secret for the wearer.
Birth Month Identity
It has long been believed that when we wear gemstones that coincide with our birth month these gems can activate our chakra, enhance our aura and energy, stabilize our thoughts, and help us feel aligned with our purpose on the planet.
Identified on the modern birthstone list for January is garnet, February amethyst, March aquamarine, April diamond, May emerald, June pearl or alexandrite, July ruby, August peridot or spinel, September sapphire, October opal or tourmaline, November citrine or topaz, and December turquoise, zircon or tanzanite.
“Everyone has a birth month, and many consider it part of their identity, so birthstone jewelry makes logical sense to most seeking a meaningful self or gift purchase,” underscores Cora Lee Colaizzi, marketing director and senior merchandiser for Quality Gold.
Birthstones have become a huge part of the gemstone category, Colaizzi says, not only in signature jewelry designs, but also added as accents to customize monograms and initials, signet rings, virtually any piece. In fact, Quality Gold’s entire bridal collection is available for custom design. “Every mounting can be designed with a gem center or accent stones. We’ve seen an increase in demand for color the last six months.”
Consumers are searching for things that are unique and express individuality, concurs Parag Desai, executive vice president of merchandising and marketing for SDC Creations. He expects holiday sales will find gemstones among the best sellers across categories, especially for self-splurge.
Desai notes that people are familiar and comfortable with the tradition of birthstones and the meaning behind them. What they may not know is that September’s birthstone sapphire comes in more than just blue hues, or that a not-so-well-known alternative gem for the month is lapis lazuli. He finds that fancy cuts and unique settings add a modern twist to classic, familiar jewelry designs, by telling new stories with color stones.
“Many consumers are turning to gemstones for their symbolism and meaning,” says Theresa Namie, merchandise manager for the manufacturer, Ostbye. She finds that consumers are drawn to certain gems for their positive vibrations, particularly Gens Y and Z. Amethyst, for example, is popular as a purifying stone, topaz and citrine for their healing energy.
In fact, crystals have celestial connections, as each stone type resonates with particular astrological signs. Aries is bloodstone or diamond, Taurus sapphire or emerald, Gemini agate or topaz, Cancer emerald or moonstone, Leo peridot or citrine, Virgo carnelian or jasper, Libra opal or tourmaline, Scorpio beryl or coral, Sagittarius topaz or citrine, Capricorn ruby or lapis, Aquarius garnet or turquoise, and Pisces amethyst and aquamarine.
While the significance of birthstones dates back centuries, it’s deemed a breakout trend in recent years, particularly among Gens Y and Z, who are choosing gemstones in engagement and wedding rings to signify the couple’s birthstones or the gem representing the month they met.
The Wedding Report says interest in and acceptance of color stone engagement rings has grown from 10% a decade ago to over 30% today.
A study conducted by MVI Marketing in the fall of 2020 finds that gemstones are capturing more attention with younger consumers interested in buying precious stone jewelry for engagement and wedding rings, particularly sapphire, ruby and emerald.
MVI research finds retailers have increased their color stone jewelry to 15% of their wedding jewelry website posted products, according to a companion study of over 50 jewelry manufacturers and retailers in the fall of 2020. Some jewelers say gemstones have brought life to their engagement and wedding ring displays.
According to Google data, the peak in proposals and engagements occurs in September, at least when it comes to search interest in marriage proposals, with moissanite, sapphire, emerald, and opal the most searched ring stones after diamond this past September.
Roopam Jain, president of the branded division of Jewelmark, a Renaissance company, finds the level of interest in color stones in bridal exciting. Popular ring styles in its branded Disney Enchanted line are set with more exotic stones like morganite, tanzanite, blue topaz, aquamarine, rhodolite, amethyst, and even black diamond. Different gems are paired with various female characters featured in Disney storylines that are used in brand marketing.
Outlook: The global gem market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5% through this decade, as a number of recent market research reports forecast. North America is one of the most significant markets for color stones in the world. Growth is attributed to high consumer purchasing power and rising demand for precious stones, as well as the increasing acceptance of lab-created gems, and broader trend for customizing jewelry design, finds TPC Insights.