Strike Gold

U.S. gold jewelry demand hit a seven-year high for the first half of 2016, after logging its tenth consecutive quarter of annual growth, reports the World Gold Council. The group also noted that the price of gold rose 25% in the first half of 2016, its strongest performance in 35 years.

“Although the market was somewhat subdued ahead of the forthcoming presidential elections, Mother’s Day sales helped US jewelry demand to its 10th consecutive quarter of year-on-year growth (+1% to 25.9t),” says Alistair Hewitt, head of market intelligence at WGC.

WGC cites demand for the first half year of 48.6t the strongest since 2009. “Growth in jewelry and watch sales outstripped that of general retail sales for much of the year-to-date, although the comparison was slightly flattered by weak gains in early 2015,” says Hewitt. “Consistent, if moderate economic growth and improving employment levels support demand, although enthusiasm in the sector is expected to wane in the coming months as the elections draw nearer.”

Moving into the holidays and the New Year, the hottest styles in gold jewelry on the market are either statement pieces or small stackable ones, says Emmy Kondo, jewelry consultant for WGC.

“We’re seeing real love for yellow and rose gold, and the fashion world is loving large, sculptural pieces—a big single earring or earclimber; a gorgeous gold choker; or a statement-making gold cuff,” says Kondo. “Also, gold ‘door knocker’ earrings and big gold hoops are seeing a return, which inject a sense of fun and balance the proportions of fall looks that are now including shoulder pads, turtlenecks and other nods to the profiles of the ’80s and ’90s.”

On the flip side, Cora-Lee Colaizzi, director of marketing and catalogs and senior merchandiser Quality Gold, Fairfield, Ohio says gold styles favoring dainty designs are being mixed and matched. Kondo says women are personalizing their jewelry looks by “curating” layers of styles, heirlooms with contemporary. She also sees the stacking trend moving up the ear with multiple piercings, cuffs and climbers. Following the success of the silver bolo bracelets, Colaizzi cites gold bolos trending; and hails chain popular in various types, lengths and karat.

For an edgier look, oxidized or blackened gold has won the hearts of the hip. “It mixes beautifully with the rose and golden tones surging in recent seasons,” says Kondo. While rose gold is popular with pastel colored gems like morganite and rose quartz, even aquamarine, reports Lori Kluempke, senior vice president of Prime Art & Jewel, Dallas. Eve Chiles, Breuning, Lawrenceville, Georgia believes rose gold is popular because it blends so well with all colors of gold.

In bridal, while white gold and platinum are favorites, Kondo sees a definite trend towards yellow gold. “This is a hipper look with diamonds and especially precious gemstones that are becoming increasingly popular with brides moving away from a traditional diamond solitaire to a more personalized expression.”

Moreover, yellow gold is trending in bridal and fashion for Sadhna Venkat for MWI Eloquence, New York. She says yellow gold alone and rose gold in combination with white are popular with white diamonds and natural fancy colors like brown and pink.

As in silver, men’s jewelry is experiencing a big boost in gold styling. “More manufacturers are adding men’s jewelry to their lines,” says Colaizzi. “Heavier styles in bracelets and necklaces with old link chains harkening the 90s are regaining interest. We’ve also added 14K and 10K link options to appeal to this target.” Kluempke says yellow gold is especially trending with men.

To draw attention to focal points and cultivate interest to various jewelry categories like gold, Colaizzi advocates that jewelers work with signage and displays that callout Pantone colors, men’s wear, and products that are Trendy, Classic, New, and Hot to catch the eye and guide customers toward styles on their shopping list. “Subtle hints here and there can go a long way.”

Colaizzi also encourages sales people play with jewelry. “Good sales people are willing to model earrings and pendants, rings and bracelets — seeing jewelry on helps if customers are undecided. Encourage customers to explore. Have tabletop mirrors within reach or suggest a selfie!”

Kondo advocates jewelers join in the narrative for May is Gold Month, started 12 years go by WGC in collaboration with the New York manufacturer Richline. Mark Hanna, CMO of the Richline Group, says the campaign is not just for its customers ( “Because the bigger retailers pick it up,” he says, “everyone is talking about gold in a national conversation.”

Kondo hails it an ideal time for jewelers to remind consumers that purchasing a piece of gold jewelry allows them to get the look while also owning something that becomes a real store of value, as opposed to almost anything else a woman can buy in clothing or accessories. “I suggest retailers look at what Richline is doing to use shared hashtags, because the more in sync the voices in the industry, the greater impact.”