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Diamond and Jewelry Retail Sales Dwindled in September, But High-Priced Jewelry Is Trending

October 14, 2022 /

Jewelry retail sales by specialty jewelers declined 6.9% in September. Beating the trend were items priced $5,000 and up, as well as LGD-set jewelry. Natural diamond year to date sales declined 3.1%.

 (New York, October 14, 2022) September exhibited weaker consumer demand for diamonds and jewelry in the American consumer market. Thanks to the impressive start of the year, the value of retail sales remains up on a year-to-date basis.

Since November of 2021, year-over-year sales gains have been eroding until they fell below 2021 levels in June and July. And while sales enjoyed a modest rise in August, they fell below 2021 levels in September.

As stated in the past, since the COVID outbreak in February 2020, consumer demand had been veering off the beaten path. Currently, there seems to be a return to pre-COVID cyclical buying trends.

Year over Year Change in US diamond + Jewelry sales Jan 2021 - September 2022 Source Tenoris.bi

Jewelry Sales Continued to Decline in September, High-End Bucked the Trend

According to the latest data collected by Tenoris, September fine jewelry sales continued to see declines from September 2021. Total units sold declined 9.1% versus last year while total value retreated 4.3% year over year.

In September, market performance was sharply different by retail price range. Items below $1,000 declined 11.2% year over year by unit sales and 11.8% by value while items between $1,000 and $4,999 declined 5.4% by volume and 4.7% by value.

However, the retail price range between $5,000 and $12,999 increased unit sales by 2.0% and value by 2.3%. The high end of the market remained strong with sales of items over $100,000 increased 33% in units and 51% in value.

Sales in the $5,000 to $12,999 retail price range were bolstered by bracelets, up 24.2% and necklaces, up 16.5% in units. Sales of rings were flat. Pendant sales, down 8.4% and earrings, down 14.6% were soft.

The decline in bridal tempered somewhat in September with units down 8.2% and value down 5.7%. The decline in natural diamond bridal jewelry of 15.7% was offset by an increase in lab-grown diamond bridal items increase of 34.2%.

“Jewelry priced +$5,000 is filling the void left by the decline in bridal jewelry,” said Tenoris Co-Managing Partner Chris Casey.

US Jewelry sales Jan 2020 - September 2022 consumer demand Source Tenoris.bi

Diamond Demand Sank, Prices Cooled Further, and Brands are Losing Share

On a year-over-year basis, diamond activity dropped sharply in September. Unit sales fell 26.6% and the value of sales declined 17.8%. Retailers have therefore cut their purchases by 32.4%.

At the same time, consumers increased their expenditures on diamond purchases, up 2.4% to $8,055.

The top selling natural diamond item is a one carat round diamond.

A surprising current trend is the decline in branded diamond sales. Until recently they were in growing popularity, but since May, sales are sliding. Year to date, unit sales sank 39.2%.

Conversely, lab grown are in soaring demand. Unit sales soared 53.6% year over year in September and by now, more than 70% of specialty jewelers sell lab-grown set jewelry, up from 27% in January 2022.

The retail price of sold lab grown averaged $2,623 in September. Despite their rising demand, the average retail price softened 3.5% year over year, which didn’t prevent retailers from increasing their gross margins to 53.7%.

Lab grown keeps creeping into natural diamonds territory. One place where this is evident is the important $2,500-$5,000 price point range. This is the range in which most of engagement ring diamonds are.

In 2020, 16.6% of the units sold in this price range were lab grown. A year later, lab grown’s share rose to 27.8%. In the first nine months of 2022, that share already stood at 39.8%.

To underscore the importance of the $2,500-$5,000 price point range, and to lab grown in particular, keep in mind that more than a quarter of all sales of natural diamonds retailers keep on hand to set in jewelry are in this price range.

As for lab grown, this price range represents more than a third of unit sales.

“The loss of consumer interest in branded diamonds is a reversal of the long-term trend. This is a hidden opportunity for marketers,” said Tenoris Co-Managing Partner Edahn Golan.

Natural and lab-grown diamonds Jan 2020 - September 2022 consumer demand Source Tenoris.bi

If you want to better understand the US jewelry retail landscape, check out this interview (YouTube). 

In it, Chris and Edahn discuss Tenoris’ services and provide a live demonstration of the system. They show how to get a deeper and incredibly detailed understanding of the market and how it can help improve your business.

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