As Christmas approaches, store owners have certain price-point driven brands, designers and jewelry types they’re confident will sell well. But the common underlying theme for this Christmas season is diamond pendants as top sellers. Estimates for average tickets of all jewelry sales this holiday season will range from $250 to $500, with a sweet spot from $325 to $375.
Most retail jewelers are confident that fourth quarter and Christmas sales will be up this year based on solid monthly gains throughout 2013. Store owners realize, however, that the economic recovery contributing to these monthly increases is tepid at best. And, that their luck could change on a dime. A government shutdown (currently in effect at press time) could be one such factor in changing a good sales forecast to bad in certain markets.
“Sales will be about the same unless the government shutdown continues,” says Jenny Caro, owner of Jewelry By Design in Woodbridge, VA. “Since a high number of our customers are government workers, we are already feeling the effects of the sequestration, so we will definitely have difficulty if the shutdown lasts for any length of time.”
Retail jewelers can’t do much about the economy or a government shutdown, but stocking proven sellers at price points that have performed well so far this year is certainly within their control. Bringing on designer Alex and Ani for Jenny in mid-summer has created noticeable excitement, generating three reorders in two months. She says this year’s new addition and market response has been similar to when she began selling Pandora.
Jenny is confident bangles from Alex and Ani, and Pandora will be big sellers this Christmas season. With sales mainly of lower-priced silver jewelry, Jenny predicts average holiday ticket sales for her store will be about $350.
John Carter, owner of Jack Lewis Jewelers in Bloomington, IL invested deep in 14-karat white gold diamond pendants, earrings and rings from Gabriel & Co. of New York. The lines range from $599 to $1,299 in classic and trending styles. Pendants have been strong sellers for John and his staff this year, with this trend showing no signs of slowing down during the upcoming holiday season.
Earrings are expected to be a close second. With steady store traffic during the summer, John predicts diamond studs will be steady, solid sellers along with diamond bracelets. With diamond fashion being the hot ticket for Christmas, John expects average holiday sales will range from $750 to $1,000 for his store. As most industry inventory management and sales experts will advise: carefully review your open-to-buy; invest in top-selling jewelry categories; and invest deep.
“This industry has changed so much in the past four to five years,” says John. “It really is essential to have those opening price points in stock and sometimes three to four deep if necessary just to make the turn.”
Other jewelers are also counting on strong diamond pendant sales with Rhythm of Love jewelry from Gems One. Launched in April at The SMART Jewelry Show Chicago, the patented swivel-like setting for Rhythm of Love jewelry allows the center diamond to move with the wearer, constantly catching and reflecting light.
Lyn Hoppe, co-owner of Hoppe Jewelers in Richmond, IN, and Andy Koehn, owner of Koehn and Koehn Jewelers in West Bend, WI, are two retailers that are banking on this new diamond product to be THE hot ticket for Christmas.
“For us the trend for this Christmas is Rhythm of Love dia to be THE hot ticket for Christmas.
“For us the trend for this Christmas is Rhythm of Love diamond jewelry,” says Lyn. “There is so much advertising and buzz around this new product. It is so new and different, available in classic designs, and starts from a very affordable spot. Even the majors have picked it up.”
Andy brought on Rhythm of Love in August. “They’re cool and a good fit for our store, which is always sort of on the front edge of exciting jewelry styles. From what I’ve been reading and hearing, the Rhythm of Love diamond jewelry is going to be a hit with consumers this year. Someone called it the ‘Past, Present, Future of Christmas 2013.’”
Other Christmas hopefuls for Lyn include long necklaces – especially with stations or plaquettes of different types interspersed into the chains. Mixed metals and different kinds of plaquettes (pearls, two-tone metals, black rhodium, diamond cutting) has become “a new ball game” for Lyn. Known for their appealing colors and price points, she’ll also be promoting Honora pearls this season.
Lyn’s other seasonal sellers include big earrings in metal color combinations that exhibit a lot of movement, as well as bridal. “Rose gold and colored diamond jewelry, particularly Caribbean-blue colors in diamonds, are in for us,” says Lyn. Factor in non-jewelry sales with Christmas ornaments from Swarovski, and Lyn is looking at average seasonal ticket sales to be around $250 this year.
In addition to Rhythm of Love, Andy is relying on his seasonal steadies. “I’m sticking with pendants, earrings and rings, mostly diamond, though black mixed with white could be a very strong contender,” says Andy. “Pandora always does well at Christmas as well. With all this factored together, average ticket sales this holiday season will be around $350 to $365.”
Anne and Michael Dale, owners of Anne Dale Jeweller in New Orleans, LA, are taking a different approach to holiday jewelry this year. Pendants are predicted to perform well for the couple and their staff this holiday season, but they’re concentrating on monogram designs. Rings are also a close second to pendants, but in their market customers want more unique items.
“Not necessarily custom jewelry, but they want something more than cookie-cutter jewelry,” says Anne. In New Orleans the Dales have noticed that their trademarked “Jeweler for a Cause” collections are connecting with local customers, be it jewelry to raise awareness for autism, cancer, the military or self-esteem issues.
“Many people are emotionally drawn to the heart-felt designs as they want to participate in expressing support, as well as the need to raise awareness, money and the spirits of those in need,” says Anne.
Another category in demand is the Louisiana state gemstone LaPearlite. Anne discovered the stone and locals are “enchanted by the gemstone and the discovery,” she says.
The Dales remodeled their showroom to accommodate more bridal jewelry, which is selling well in-store. Fleur de lis pendants, and other local favorites Anne is known for (“Second Line Jewelry,” “Who Dat,” and “Love New Orleans”) are strong online sellers. The combined efforts have translated into sales increases the Dales predict will continue into the holiday season.
It wouldn’t be Christmas without interest- and sales-generating promotions and sales events. Andy will be doing traditional ladies’ and men’s nights along with premium electronics gift-with-purchase giveaways on Black Friday. Jenny tried tech-related gift-with-purchases last year, but the program wasn’t as successful as the year before. She’ll be trying “JDB Bucks” in $50, $100 and $500 denominations off purchases of $100, $250 and $1,500 respectively.
Lyn’s plan of attack is multi-prong, starting with a mobile app specific to Rhythm of Love diamond jewelry. She’ll also offer gift-with-purchase promotions, weekly specials, and deep discounts in December to boost in-store traffic. She plans on spreading the word on all these events and incentives using social media, radio, flyers, direct mail postcards and catalogs. One change up this year, no holiday parties. “We decided to take a new route,” says Lyn.
At Jack Lewis, John and his team like to party with in-store special events (like their annual Chamber of Commerce Business Before Hours the morning before Thanksgiving Day), store appearances with jewelry designers, and their semi-annual poker night. But it’s the social aspect of holiday gatherings that John finds of seasonal value.
“Sometimes it really is just about getting together with our friends and clients in a social setting,” says John. “We are here to help our clients celebrate the special moments in their lives. What better time to remember that than the holidays.”