Jewelry finished strong for the winter holiday retail season and sales have remained robust during the early months of 2022.
Recent Mastercard SpendingPulse monthly tallies show gains in jewelry sales over 2021 with March nearly 12% up over the previous year, and 79% over pre-pandemic March 2019. Jewelry performed better this March than overall retail sales, which rose 8.4%, although it underperformed the overall luxury market that realized a 27% increase over the prior year.
Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard and former CEO and chairman of Saks Inc., said in a statement that as consumers resume spending on passion areas like travel, live entertainment, indoor dining, and other in-person activities, they will return to a balanced level of spending across retail sectors and services.
While some stabilization is expected, jewelry sales continue to be robust, as Axios shares in an April 6, 2022, article, “Jewelry Sales Take Off.” With more people getting married and going back to the office this year, the news platform finds “Americans ready to get fancy again, as jewelry sales are humming on.”
Consumers already had been buying jewelry at elevated levels during the pandemic, with some wanting to look good on camera in the Zoom age. But 2022 is poised to be the year many Americans go back to the office, and a record year for weddings, the article cites, thus the need to adorn. Now that people are getting out, there are more reasons to wear jewelry.
Jewelers planning their shopping list for JCK Las Vegas, June 10-13, 2022 at The Venetian Expo can scout trends at the show’s premier Plumb Club Pavilion, with bridal products and tried and true everyday classics predicted to be among this year’s bestsellers.
Weddings Ring Up Sales
The wedding category is expected to receive a major boost this year, as a record number of U.S. couples, more than 2.5 million, are looking to tie the knot, reports the online wedding planning portal, The Knot. This comes after a two-year lull when 1.3 married in 2020 and 1.9 million in 2021. In 2022, the number is expected to surpass the current record of 2.49 million set in 1984.
Ostbye, through its market research and customer feedback, finds that classic bridal is even more important this year. “We spend a lot of time studying the industry and getting feedback from across the country; demand is most prominent for statement engagement rings that accommodate larger center diamonds,” says Theresa Namie, merchandise manager for the company. “People want to show their peacock feathers right now. We’ll be introducing new bridal that can fit larger center diamonds in styles that have timeless appeal.”
Sagar Manilal, sales manager for Indigo Jewelry, finds couples are not only looking for quality diamonds when ring shopping, they also are looking for design details and fine craftsmanship in the rings they choose.
Manilal finds that fancy shape diamonds continue to capture a larger portion of the diamond market, as a more affordable alternative to round brilliant and a great way to re-imagine classic styles. Fancy-shaped diamonds are especially popular in trending two-stone diamond engagement rings.
While about 83% of brides prefer a natural diamond center for their engagement ring, finds The Knot, lab-grown diamonds continue to appeal to an increasing number of couples looking to get a bigger, better lab-grown for their budget than a natural mined diamond offers, as well as its sustainable message.
“In the last three years, lab-grown diamonds have been a game changer,” says Cora Lee Colaizzi, director of marketing and catalogs and senior merchandiser for Quality Gold. “Lab-grown diamond engagement rings and bands are rising as an important product category, second to loose lab-grown diamond sales.” According to The Knot nearly one in four engagement rings purchased in 2021 featured a lab-grown diamond center.
Moreover, Colaizzi has seen an increase in demand for color stone center and accent stones in engagement and wedding rings the last six to nine months, as Quality Gold’s entire bridal collection is available for custom design.
Jewelers should be prepared for wedding band sales to exceed expectations this year as well, cheers Sean McCormick, sales and marketing for Novell Global, with single and multiple rows of diamonds, half eternity, popular. “Bridal related jewelry was, is and always will be the bestselling product lines.”
Not just for women, men too are buying diamond rings, says Jonathan Cohen, CEO of IBGoodman. “We’ve seen demand spike for larger total weights up to 3-carats in multi-stone bands and solitaire rings. Men’s diamond solitaire rings have enormous potential to grow, especially since Tiffany debuted last summer its first men’s engagement ring ad. With supply chain challenges and higher prices for earth-mined diamonds, we’re seeing more inquiries from retailers for 1-carat solitaires with lab-grown diamonds; it brings the price way down.”
Tried & True Classics
Tried and true with a personal twist is how Town & Country recently described popular jewelry for self and gift purchases, including foolproof hoops, modern pearl jewelry, diamond studs, cable cuffs and bangles, color stone rings and pendants, and monogrammed signet and initial styles.
The hoopla for hoop earrings continues with a broad range of choices from simple gold styles to twists with diamond, gem and pearl accents. Classic stud earrings with diamonds (natural or lab-grown), pearls, and birthstones are staples in any wardrobe that can easily be thrown in the mix with multiple styles. The twist here is often in the setting details and the use of fancy shaped stones.
Consumers love designs that are multi-functional and go with today’s casual lifestyle. Some great examples are found among Ostbye’s latest product releases — reversible gold and diamond hoop earrings and “Enhanceables” pendant necklaces that can be worn apart or together, layering circles, hearts and infinity symbols. “We also have new designs in freeform style rings and necklaces that will be great for any occasion,” Namie adds. “We‘re expanding our lab-grown diamond collection as well, which has been in great demand.”
Parag Desai, executive vice president of merchandising and marketing for SDC Creations, ranks gemstones high on the list for consumers searching for unique and meaningful jewelry. He finds that people are familiar and comfortable with birthstones in particular and the meaning behind them. The younger generations are especially attracted to gemstones, in fancy shapes and unique settings that add a modern twist to classic jewelry designs. Colaizzi hails color stones, natural or lab-created, the new way to customize fashion, gift and wedding jewelry.
Younger consumers have a hankering for pearls, too with basic and fashion jewelry bestsellers. Beautiful styling and simplicity of design is how Kathy Grenier, vice president of business development for Imperial Pearl, describes what’s popular in pearl jewelry.
“When you look at jewelry design over the years we can see distinctions categorizing each decade. But what I find so refreshing today is that we are in one of the best eras of design aesthetics in decades, not influenced by the past, but rather what’s unique right now,” Grenier says of pearl design.
Among its JCK debuts, Imperial will be showing small vignettes that add cool color to its assortment, including Tahitian pearls set in black rhodium and freshwater pearls paired with blue epoxy in silver designs.
This year also promises to be strong for men’s jewelry. A November 2021 Women’s Wear Daily article, “Men Are Buying More Fine Jewelry Pieces, Here’s Why” cites “a new appetite for daring, experimental and personalized pieces, with fine jewelry booming.” All categories of men’s jewelry purchases have been robust the past two years, Cohen reports.
Next to diamond rings (natural and lab-grown), men continue to covet rings set with other color, notably onyx, sapphire and ruby, says Cohen. “We see a lot of interest in carved gemstone rings with intaglios that have a vintage feel. And, signet rings that have personal significance continue to be bestsellers, whether engraved with a monogram, family crest, or other meaningful symbols.”
Cohen cites demand strong for personalized jewelry, like its Americana Collection, with iconic motifs cast in a bronze charm set in silver for bracelets, pendants and cufflinks. He sees cufflinks as a go-to accessory for men of all ages, even in our more casual society. “Young men are wearing French cuff shirts, often without a tie, with jeans and adding personal style in their cufflinks.”