Silver Surge

Silver jewelry retail sales in the United States have been exceptionally strong, showing the seventh consecutive year of growth, according to the Silver Promotion Service (SPS), marketing arm of the Silver Institute.

Some 60% of jewelers polled by National Jeweler/Jewelers of America for SPS in February and March reported increased sales, up 15% on average in 2015. As a percentage of overall jewelry sales, retailers said silver was up on average 35% in unit volume and 27% in dollar volume. In fact, 45% of retailers said silver experienced the best turnover rate in 2015 over all other categories; and 87% are optimistic the current silver surge will continue.

“The results confirm that silver jewelry continues to be an increasingly important category for many retailers, both in driving sales and providing margin, says SPS Director Michael Barlerin. “Silver’s outstanding performance was the result of many factors, including the fact that 57% of retailers reported they increased their silver inventory by 21% on average.” The survey also finds female self-purchases account for 46% of sales, gift giving 34%. Moreover, silver demographics remain anchored in the 20- to 40-age range, with 78% of purchasers in this group.

Key trends in silver jewelry for the holidays and into the New Year include a focus on necklaces in shorter lengths and looks from delicate to dramatic; drop and dangle earrings; color gems and metals; and men’s wear, reports Gloria Maccaroni, director of brand development for SPS.

Silver and gold jewelry share similar style trends, although this year bigger, bolder themes are prominent in silver versus more delicate designs in gold, tells Cora-Lee Colaizzi, director of marketing and catalogs and senior merchandiser Quality Gold, Fairfield, Ohio. Across the board, geometric motifs are popular.

In fact, oval, circle, floral, and organic silver forms, solid and open, are trending in dramatic neckwear, worn close to the neck and different lengths that can be layered, says Eve Chiles for Breuning, Lawrenceville, Georgia.

Pendants with a purpose are popular in silver and gold necklaces, says Lori Kluempke, senior vice president of Prime Art & Jewel, Dallas, citing its with spirit animals and power symbols and spears and tumbled nuggets that embody traits and energy sources. While Audrey Robbins of Marathon, Attleboro, Massachusetts hails lockets (heart, oval and circle) bestsellers in silver with prices sweet for gift giving.

Colaizzi concurs that drop earrings are trendy, but believes the entire earring category is buzzing with excitement because of the great diversity in designs—dangles, buttons, knots, hoops, threaders, climbers, and more. She also cites silver and pearls important in chain necklaces that are perfect for layering. “Pendants with matching earring sets are popular in freshwater cultured pearls. Demand for pearl jewelry remains strong and the trend of mix and match lengths and layering incorporating these pieces is fashionable.”

In color stones, Kluempke says pastel gems in blues and pinks rock in silver and gold like aquamarine, topaz, chalcedony, morganite, and rose quartz in organic shapes and checkerboard cuts. While Chiles cites the use of blackened and rose colored silver popular in bi and tri colors with white, and elements from diamonds to CZ, crystals to corian.

Bangles remain a silver staple. Colaizzi sees continued success for the bolo design, while Robbins says Marathon does well with adjustable styles that feature interchangeable clasps (LeStage).

Many brands hail men’s jewelry the category to watch in silver and gold. There’s an uptick in interest and demand for menswear, says Chiles, especially silver fashion cufflinks as more young men are back to wearing French cuffs. Maccaroni, who also sees big demand for men’s silver bracelets and band rings, describes the category on the cusp of major growth.

Colaizzi advises jewelers have a gents’ section that appeals to women as well as men. “Consider the demographic and traffic patterns of your store and determine if gender neutral or gender specific signage is best.”

Silver is not only a great self-purchase and fashion piece, but also an awesome gift for any occasion. But Maccaroni says SPS is encouraging retailers market silver with bridal, for gift giving between the couple and bridal party, jewelry for the wedding day, and add on gifts for anniversaries and other celebrations.

A.Jaffe, New York reports enormous success with its Maps collection as add-ons in bridal sales, says Samuel Sandberg, president. Launched last year, the collection allows customers to map their moment. “Any location can be engraved on pendant, charm and cufflink, silver or gold—where you first met, got engaged, were married; where you graduated school; the birth of a child; your first house.” He notes the price points for silver make those styles especially popular.

In fact, the most important driver of sales, according to 83% of retailers surveyed by SPS, is price. Other factors include customer request (78%), sales staff recommendation (62%), brand recognition (60%), reputation of sales associate (46%), brand’s marketing (43%), and social media (30%). Maccaroni advocates jewelers use SPS as a resource for market intelligence and sales training.