One-on-one interviews with jewelry retailers across the United States, part of recent research released by De Beers, reveals a clear sense of optimism for fourth quarter sales.
Although jewelers remain cautious how potential new outbreaks and winding down economic stimulus will impact consumer confidence, those that have reopened following lockdown experienced pent-up demand from consumers driven by strong engagement ring sales, jewelry gifts being upgraded as an alternative to travel, and a stronger season than normal for graduation gifting.
De Beers’ research found that as consumers in the U.S. reassess their purchasing behavior in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, gifts that are meaningful and retain their value will be the priority as people emerge from lockdown, finds research released by the De Beers Group in June.
Research demonstrated that the lockdown made many consumers feel grateful for things they used to take for granted, such as spending time with family, and that this would influence their future purchasing and gifting behavior. Ninety percent said that choosing gifts that hold their value over time would be an important consideration this holiday season, and more people chose diamonds as the top choice for a gift of this nature from a list of luxury items.
While consumers felt safest shopping for jewelry online; they distinguished local independent jewelers as the best source for knowledge and product quality, as well as being considered the safest of all the physical outlets for jewelry shopping.
“Retailers that are able to provide a safe and welcoming in-store environment for consumers in what is a strange and unsettling time will be best placed to benefit in the weeks and months ahead,” said Bruce Cleaver, CEO, De Beers Group in a statement. “It is heartening to hear initial reports of positive demand for diamond jewelry as consumers emerge from lockdown and the industry starts preparing for the important end of year sales season.”
Despite the pandemic, and the consequent growth in online diamond jewelry sales, consumers still prefer to shop in-store where they can receive expert advice and personal attention. This was the case even with digital-savvy Millennial and Gen-Z consumers, as 59 percent prefer the in-store experience.
While consumer confidence and spending has been significantly impacted in the U.S., De Beers’ research finds that diamonds will have a unique role to play in people’s lives in a post-lockdown world as they seek to celebrate their most meaningful relationships.
Symbolic, sentimental, and personalized diamond jewelry is coveted for its emotional value, and this is a moment when people want meaning, substance and objects with lasting value and personal significance, cites the Natural Diamond Council (NDC), formerly known as the Diamond Producers Association in its Jewelry Trends Report for Fall 2020. A range of symbols is popular, including heart, evil eye, good luck charms, spiritual icons, celestial beings, zodiac signs, initials, and words of affirmation all accented in diamonds.
Another key trend identified by NDC is mix-and-match diamond earrings. The report hails it an easy way to curate personal style, as women can wear classic diamond studs with a diamond drop or geometric-shaped earrings. The report finds jewelry designers are increasingly selling single earrings for this purpose, calling it an affordable way to create a style upgrade.
Personal expression continues to be an important factor in choosing bridal jewelry. As more women are involved in selecting their engagement ring, manufacturers are seeing requests to add custom filigree, or turn a pear center on an angle, or add the couple’s birthstones to the shank.
With gold prices shy of $2,000-an-ounce silver is enjoying attention for its affordability, as well as its fashion status and anti-microbial position in these COVID times. A recent consumer survey, sponsored by the Silver Promotion Service (SPS) and conducted by MVI Marketing, finds a high level of pent-up demand for jewelry, and intent to buy silver jewelry during and post COVID-19.
“What we know is that jewelry is an emotional purchase that has always been the perfect gift to mark special occasions, express one’s love, and celebrate personal achievements and self-rewards,” reports SPS, underscoring how silver jewelry provides wide options in design and price points and delivers great turn and ROI.
The study finds a high likelihood of self-purchase of silver jewelry for a variety of occasions, including “just because”, self-love, and birthday. Half of the more than 500 respondents missed gift-giving events such as birthdays, Mother’s Day, and graduations for which they had planned on buying jewelry. As the country opens up, 64 percent say they’re planning to buy jewelry, with 45 percent contemplating that as their “just because” self-purchase.
Recent trends reports from SPS cite three jewelry classics attracting much of the attention: diamond stud and similar looks, hoops and bangles in silver. Silver set with diamonds, color stones or pearls has become a mainstay. Other lustrous gems like mother-of-pearl, abalone pearl, and updated classic mother-of-pearl doublets in organic shapes shimmer in silver.
Color stones play a key role in our “above the keyboard dressing” and digitally dominated lifestyles, Jane Collins and Ana Correa, footwear and accessories senior and associate editors, respectively, for the trends forecasting firm WGSN, shared color and gem trends in a recent Couture-hosted webinar.
Among the design trends fueling greater demand for color is our desire for statement jewelry, occasion-wear for everyday to spice up on-screen socializing. “As we conduct more of our lives online, jewelry that stands out on screen will be essential,” says Correa, “with a focus on colors and materials that pop.”
Correa advocates investing in stones with transformative qualities, unique cuts, or reflective surfaces that create otherworldly aesthetics. Think opal, mother of pearl, and abalone pearl. Birthstones, she underscores, remain the perfect draw for personalization, with these traditional gems among the most meaningful.
Multi-color settings continue to be popular, as consumers embrace jewelry that not only enhances their mood, but also pops on screen. Collins cites ombré and colorful tassels with vibrant, translucent stones on trend.