Holidays of Love

Next to Christmas, Valentine and Mother’s days remain key gift-giving occasions for jewelry, which ranks as the top choice for at least a quarter of consumers, says National Retail Federation Consumer Spending Surveys, with room to grow.

For Valentine’s Day this year, the NRF estimates total spending to reach about $20 billion, up from last year’s almost $19 billion, and a survey high, with jewelry accounting for nearly a quarter ($4.4 billion). Some 55% of consumers surveyed celebrate Valentine’s Day with the average spend $147, up from $142 last year.

For Mother’s Day this year, the NRF estimates total spending to reach $21.4 billion, up slightly from last year’s $21.2 billion, with around $4.2 billion of that in jewelry. Nearly 85% of consumers surveyed celebrate the holiday, with the average spend $172, on par with last year that was a record high.

Father’s Day, while not traditionally a big jewelry-gifting occasion like it is for mom, has enormous potential. Total spending this year is expected to reach $14.3 billion, finds the NRF, the highest in the survey’s 13-year history. The average spend is about $126 for the holiday, up from last year’s $115. Next to special outings, consumers gave dad clothing, and personal care gifts also are among the chosen, revealing more interest in men’s appearance and style.

Although jewelry isn’t a top gift listed for dads, jewelry sales for men in general are rising, as this once niche market has gone mainstream with greater choices at more retailers. “Fueling this category are more products that speak to the modern man, who’s open to styles in precious and alternative materials—from contemporary metals to gold, with gems like lapis and onyx, and leather styling important,” says Scott Rauch, president SHR Jewelry Group, a division of SDC Designs, New York.

Pushing Collectibles
For holidays of love, jewelry styles with personal meaning are bestsellers including initials, engravings, charms, and iconic symbols (heart, infinity, intersecting circles, religious themes).

“Charms make the ideal personalized gift,” hails Dave Maine for Chrysalis, a London-based Richline brand known for its adjustable, stackable bangle charm bracelets. “The stacking trend has progressed from bangles to layering necklaces, stacking rings, and even multiple piercings, which is why we’ve extended our range to include these categories.” He says the collectible nature of charm jewelry offers consumers many ways to easily identify meaningful gifts.

The tendency to stack also resonates with men, who are mixing different types of bracelets like chain, leather and beads, and layering pendant necklaces, says Rauch, who notes SHR Jewelry just launched a men’s line under the Esquire brand. “Partnering with the authority in menswear, and having Esquire’s editors help curate the collection, brings a level of confidence to men and the women who buy for them to explore their personal style by building an accessories wardrobe, which the stacking and layering trend encourages.”

Helping to grow this category, are lifestyle campaigns like IBGoodman launched this year to promote go-to gifts for the “wingman” in your life. The Newport, Kentucky based men’s brand is showcasing a range of men’s accessories that make popular gifts. Jonathan Cohen, company president, says its latest “Americana Collection” is striking a cord. “The jewelry is made in Kentucky using sterling silver and themed elements of Americana like recycled shell casings and components in silver, bronze, brass and top grain cowhide from U.S. tanneries.”


Gem Messaging
Undoubtedly, the indestructible nature of diamond makes it a key gem to signify undying love for those we hold dear. Especially for Valentine’s Day, two-stone diamond jewelry is expected to remain a bestseller for its stories and what the pieces represent to loved ones, says Maren Pfister, merchandise manager, Ostbye, Minneapolis, Minnesota, citing its Diamond Marriage Symbol® and 2Us™ as product examples. Different takes on the two-stone concept are trending in ring and necklace designs.

For Mother’s Day, Pfister sees the stacking trend popular in birthstone bands and bezel-set rings for mom. “Each birthstone ring represents a child in the family creating a unique and contemporary stacked look just for her.”

Pearls too represent pure love and are perfect for a mom or a special Valentine. Similarly to diamond, pearls are considered chameleon-like gems as they effortlessly go with any metal, stone or design elements paired with them and can easily be layered with other jewels, cites Kathy Grenier, marketing director for Imperial Pearl in Providence, Rhode Island.

While there is so much variety, pearl basics continue to be a timeless gift choice, says Grenier. Among the bestsellers are lariat style pearl necklaces that are great for layering, and pearl earrings, especially studs, drops and front-back styles, in classic Akoya and also golden South Sea and Tahitian pearls.

In fact, Dana Cali with Mastoloni Pearls, New York, describes pearl studs as the gift that keeps on giving when paired with earring jackets, which the brand has introduced with many new styles in gold and diamonds. She hails earring jackets the perfect add-on sale, wardrobe-building gift, and self-purchase.