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A Strong Valentine’s Day Boosted Jewelry Sales 1.4%

March 8, 2024 /

The overriding trend characterizing US jewelry sales in Valentine’s Day and February was that it was mixed. Natural diamond jewelry sales rose, but unit sales decreased. Loose natural diamonds sales generated a counter trend – a decrease in revenue while the number of units sold increased.

Confused? The following breakdown provides some clarity, plus a surprising change in demand for platinum.

Finished Jewelry Sales Rise YoY

Valentine’s Day provided a great boost to finished jewelry sales with retail sales revenue up 2.5% despite unit sales being flat. This performance lifted the year-to-date market to flat with 2023 in retail sales revenue.

Diamond Jewelry Gains Additional Market Share in Valentine’s Day

Diamond jewelry sales rose in February, with unit sales rising 3.5% and revenue increasing 8% year over year.

In another improvement for diamond jewelry, it represented 46.2% of all finished jewelry sold in February, an increase from a 44.5% share of finished jewelry sales in February 2023.

Finished Natural Diamond Jewelry Sales Rising

Year over year, natural diamond jewelry posted a 0.9% increase in unit sales while holding 92.6% market share of all diamond jewelry. More impressive was a 5.9% rise in retail sales revenue, resulting in 92.3% hold of diamond jewelry sales.

The key $1,000 to $5,000 price range remained solid with sales revenue increasing 2.1%. Real strength was demonstrated in price ranges of over $10,000 with sales up to 19.1%.

Lab-Grown Diamond Jewelry Unit Sales Up, Prices Decline

Finished jewelry set with lab-grown diamonds increased their units share of the diamond jewelry category to 7.4%. This is an increase from the 5.3% share held in February 2023.

Year over year, unit sales increased 42.7% and retail sales revenue rose 33.3%. Alongside this increase, the average retail price per item lab-grown-set jewelry dropped 5.9% to $2,018.

Platinum Jewelry and Bracelets are On the Rise

On the metal front, platinum jewelry showed a revival with a unit sales gain of 11.6%. This is platinum’s first meaningful year over year performance since early 2022. The increase was consistent across price ranges and products. Despite near record prices, gold unit sales were flat for the month.

Bracelets continue to be a hot category with unit sales up 10.9% and retail sales value up 9.6%. Unit sales have increased every month on a year-over-year basis since June 2023. The unit increases are broad based.

All bracelet subcategories are up including bangles that rose 7.7%, fashion (11.2%) and tennis bracelets (14.1%).

By price range, virtually all increased with the exception of items that sold for over $100,000. Sales by unit of solid metal bracelets rose 19.8%. Of those metal bracelets, platinum increased 94.6%, silver by 14.2%, and gold by 9.3%.

Sales of diamond-set bracelets rose 11% in February.

Also of note, brands are sharing the gain with David Yurman rising 17%, Roberto Coin increased 42% and John Hardy up 39%. Non-branded suppliers showed growth with IDD up over 300%, Quality Gold up 14% and Gabriel by 11%.

Valentine's Day US Jewelry Sales chart - Jan 2020-Feb 2024 - Source Tenoris

Valentine’s Day Didn’t Help: Total Diamond Sales Keep Deteriorating

Valentine’s Day led to a surge in diamond sales, leading to a rise in activity in February compared to January. However, while finished diamond jewelry sales rose year over year, overall sales of loose diamonds were flat, mainly due to softening prices. The sales decline takes place despite a rise in the number of loose items sold.

Valentine’s Day is also a popular time for wedding proposals. With a growing number of newlyweds opting for lab-grown diamonds set into their engagement rings, the year-over-year sales decline is not surprising.

Compared to February 2023, loose diamond sales softened 0.1% while the number of diamonds sold grew 16.3%.

Since May 2022, and every month since for 22 straight months, the total value of loose diamond sales declined on a year-over-year basis.

Natural Diamond Sale Declined Despite Rise in Unit Sales

The small hope of rising expenditure per item on natural diamonds was placed on hold in February. After year-over-year increases in December and January, the average spend per item declined 5.7% as average retail prices contracted in February.

Year over year, total expenditure on loose natural diamonds declined 2.7%. This is not to say that American consumers lost their appetite for natural diamonds. The number of unit sales actually increased, rising 3.2%.

As sales are declining, retailers reduced their inventory levels by 2.3%. Keeping tight control of inventory makes perfect sense during this period. It also presents suppliers and diamond traders with opportunities. For example, 1.00-1.04 carat round H/SI2 goods were the best-selling item in February. However, retailers reduced their inventory for these goods 3.4%.

Identifying these opportunities gives traders an edge when approaching buyers.

Valentine's Day US loose natural diamond sales chart - Jan 2020-Feb 2024 - Source Tenoris

LGD Prices Keep Declining While Unit Sales Keep Rising

Lab-grown diamonds’ average retail price keeps sinking. In February, their average price was down 1% month over month and 17% year over year.

Worse, key sizes are falling even faster. Retail prices of round, 1 carat LGDs fell 8% from January and 29% compared to February 2023. Prices of 2 carats declined 4% and 29%, respectively.

These declines underscore two issues: Items in lab grown items in high demand are also subject to consumer price pressure because they comparison shop. Also, supply is so abundant that price reduction is almost necessary to get product moving.

Another aspect of supply impacting price is seen in smaller goods. Rough LGD that yields 0.30-0.39 carats polished are scarce. The result is a shortage that pushes up prices: average retailer prices and costs are up, and gross margins are down.

At the same time, we see an overall growth in Lab grown unit sales, up 31% year over year.

The jump in LG unit sales may support the view that they are expanding the diamond category. The important question to ask in this context is who the consumer is buying these additional diamonds. If they are buying fashion jewelry set with LGD, then perhaps they will later “graduate” to buy natural diamond jewelry. If they are buying a bridal item, then they purchased their first, and maybe last major diamond jewelry.

Valentine's Day US loose lab grown diamond sales chart - Jan 2020-Feb 2024 - Source Tenoris

About Tenoris

Tenoris collects retail sales data from a broad representative sample of US jewelry retailers. It covers more than 6% of the market by value. Tenoris subscribers include retailers, manufacturers, miners, and financial firms. They use this data to study everything from broad market trends to price prediction, assisting them in identifying changing trends and opportunities ahead of their competitors.

Tenoris can help improve your business through a better understanding of the US jewelry market. Contact us to discover how our reports and tools provide comprehensive insights of the US jewelry market.

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