Expectations, Energy Still High in Jewelry Business

The jewelry industry came together to celebrate 30 years of the JCK Show, June 10-13, 2022 at The Venetian Expo in Las Vegas, exceeding pre-pandemic attendance numbers, welcoming over 17,000 attendees and 1,800 exhibitors.

“It was a celebratory and momentous year for the JCK community,” Sarin Bachmann, group vice president of RX Jewelry Group shared in a statement. “This edition came full circle with high energy, enthusiasm, and connection and commerce. This year we saw an increase in attendance, quality lead generation, customer success on-site, and amplified optimism for the future of innovation and trends in the jewelry industry, as well as the importance of face-to-face events.”

Many described this year’s JCK show as the best yet, not only for connections and commerce, but also easier to navigate and enhanced activities and experiences to commemorate, inspire, educate, and engage while getting business done (such as photo and video stations, trends talks on the show floor, and an enhanced show app).

TPC Positive
The Plumb Club (TPC), a founding anchor pavilion of JCK Las Vegas, remains a premier must-visit neighborhood on the show floor, featuring a diverse group of nearly 50 companies representing over 100 brands from all parts of the trade.

Great traffic, busy through Sunday, with Friday the best day for KGS Jewels, as Richard Bachu, vice president of sales and director of ecommerce, says many of its retailers wanted to come to its booth and The Plumb Club Pavilion first.

Bachu describes business at the show comparable to 2019, as last year was more of an anomaly due to the pandemic, as the jewelry industry was infused with stimulus money and no competition for those dollars from the travel and entertainment sector. He describes buyers this year to be a bit more cautious than last year with so many uncertainties in the market.

Jordan Peck with Brevani describes everyone who visited the brand in TPC as “there to buy” and “optimistic for the fourth quarter.” “Retailers are having a good year so far, and they’re planning for a good holiday season and want to be ready,” he says. But he underscores the importance of customer outreach. “We were busy because we worked hard before the show to schedule appointments.”

Prepare for Uncertainty, Watch for Opportunities
As jewelers move into the second half of 2022, there are many unknowns as to how rising interest rates and inflation, which is at a 40-year high (8.5% year-over-year), and other geopolitical factors will impact sales.

After two years of tremendous sales growth, it’s important for jewelers to set expectations for potential rough waters in the months ahead, as the economy works out all the kinks. In its latest State of Retail report for 2022, Fruchtman Marketing advises retailers to prepare for uncertainty, watch for opportunities.

Fruchtman expects the average retail tickets will drop. “Current and prospective customers won’t give up commemorating an important event. But they might not spend as much,” cites the report. “When people are feeling a pinch, they draw lines. To make up that volume, jewelers must generate more traffic. To do that they have to be aggressive and stay the course in their marketing.”

The report notes that while foot traffic might decline due to high gas prices, a jeweler’s closing ratios should be higher for customers who make the effort to come into the store. Also, online shopping and browsing continues to increase, so it’s critical this year that jewelers ensure their website is in tip top shape.

The biggest growth sector for jewelers is online, says KGS’ Bachu, who advises jewelers to focus on ecommerce. “Before the pandemic no one had the confidence to buy fine jewelry online. Today, everyone is buying expensive items online. Jewelers need to get there now.” He says ecommerce growth has been tremendous, and big box stores have gone full throttle the past 15 months.

Optimistic for Future
“Positioned to be optimistic,” as Chetan Patel, jewelry production manager for the NYC-based company Indigo Jewelry shares, is a phrase many companies in The Plumb Club echoed this year.

While the first half of 2022 was a bit peculiar with diamond prices all over the place, Patel expects the second half of the year to finish strong. “At the very least, we will be over prepared. Our outlook is extremely positive.”

Patel notes that bridal sales, the mainstay of the company, continue to be robust across the board, as a record number of couples are expected to marry this year. People are also attending more celebrations, going out, and getting back to the office, eager to flash some bling. Jewelry remains the favorite choice in “dopamine dressing” with accessories that make us feel good a trend not likely to wane any time soon.

Michael Langhammer, CEO of Quality Gold, based in Fairfield, Ohio says he is very optimistic for the future. The company recently acquired the premier men’s jewelry line in the country and Plumb Club member manufacturer, IBGoodman under its umbrella of prestige brands.

“We’re always looking for opportunities to improve our business and what we are doing,” Langhammer shares, noting that IBGoodman in neighboring Newport, Kentucky is a valuable asset that will round out QG’s men’s offerings, from contemporary to precious metals, natural and lab-grown grown gems.

Jonathan Cohen, CEO of IBGoodman, says sales have been strong this year and prospects for the trade are very good, as evident by the traffic and business conducted in the sections where equipment and technology companies exhibited. “People are making capital investments in production and technologies to support or replace staff, which bodes well for expectations for future business.”

Cohen, who has bought from and sold to Langhammer for decades, says the timing was right to sell his company and Quality Gold was a great fit. “Michael expressed an interest and we found real synergies to put together a deal in short order that checked all the boxes, including opportunity and continuity for IBG staff,” Cohen explains. “Michael has a clear path forward for the business and the resources available to achieve his goals.” The two companies took advantage of the JCK Show for staff to meet with accounts to make for a smooth transition.

Fruchtman expects a 4% to 8% sales growth for jewelry in 2022 over the prior year, citing it tough to hit the double-digit gains seen the previous two years.