As expected for the holiday season, US jewelry retailers experienced a rise in activity in November from October. Some are expressing concerns due to the economic outlook and the year-over-year decline in sales. However, consumer demand was still robust, and far ahead of sales in 2019.
Jewelry Demand in November and Year to Date
Total fine jewelry sales continue showing softness compared to the historically strong sales of jewelry in 2021 with total November unit sales down 11.1% and value down 12.2%.
Several retail price points saw lesser declines. The $2,500 to $4,999 price range declined 6.7% in units sold and 6.8% in value. The $12,500 to $14,999 retail price range declined 5.3% in units sold and 5.2% in value.
For the first time since February, the very high end $100,000 retail price point over, showed larger declines than the overall market. The low volume segment was down 25.8% in units and down 25.1% in value.
Diamond Jewelry Unit Sales Down 14.7%
Diamond jewelry sales slightly underperformed the market with total unit sales down 14.7% and value down 13.5%. Natural diamond jewelry, representing 94.5% of units sold, declined 16.9% in units and 16.1% in value. Lab grown diamond jewelry, representing 5.5% of units sold, saw units sales increase 62.4% and value increase 69.6%.
Retailers maintained higher margins in November, up 1.7% year over year.
Several categories demonstrated year-over-year increases in key price ranges. Fashion rings showed YoY unit growth of 17.1% in the $500 to $749, 7.0% in the $5,000 to $74,999, and 4.2% in the $7,500 to $9,999 retail price ranges. Additionally, stud earrings in the $1,000 to $1,499 retail price range were up in units sold by 2.8%.
Diamonds Had A Mixed Performance
Holiday season demand is boosting diamond retail sales across the board compared to October. With it, retail prices are adjusting.
Natural Diamonds Retail Prices Rise
The holiday season started positively for natural diamonds. Unit sales rose 5% from October, average retail prices increased 6.6% year over year, and retailer’s margins gained a 3% boost as well.
And yet, year to date sales continued to decline, with unit sales falling 22% and total value down 7%. Overall, the average retail price per carat rose 3.8%, although 1 carat rounds rose by 2.5% compared with October.
Ovals remain the second most popular shape in the market after rounds, accounting for 19.5% of unit share of sales in November.
Cushion shapes, especially SI1, are in a particular rise in demand after a period of declining sales in the past two years, leading to rising prices.
Another category seeing a revival is branded diamonds. Retail prices of 0.5 and 1-carat shot up, and the $2,500-7,500 price range is where 39% of sales take place.
Lab Grown Diamonds Keep Capturing Share
Demand for lab grown diamonds is growing fast. In November, 39.5% of diamonds sold were lab-grown diamonds. The total value of retail sales rose 18.8% while unit sales soared 36.5% year over year.
Retailer’s gross margin of 53.5% leaped 6.3% compared to November 2021.
And yet, retailers slashed unit purchases by a quarter (25.6%). The quickly declining prices, coupled with wholesalers’ willingness to supply goods over night with a broad range of goods, allows retailers to reduce their outlays.
The top selling items are 2-carat, primarily in the $5,000-7,500 price range. Unit sales in this size/price point combination rose 153% on a year over year basis. The most popular of these are FG/VS1 goods, an item that was hardly sold at retail last year.
The majority of lab grown are still supplied on memo, which may reflect retailers lack of confidence in long-term pricing. In November, the average retail price of a round, one carat LGD fell 3.8% compared to October. Retailer’s cost of sales for this item fell 5.3%.
Consumer are buying, among other, 4 and 5 carat LGDs, paying upwards of $20,000, proving that demand is far reaching, and far from being limited to fashion jewelry.
If you want to better understand the US jewelry retail landscape, check out this interview. In it, Chris and Edahn discuss Tenoris’ services and provide a live demonstration of the system. They show how to get a deeper and detailed understanding of the market and how it can help improve your business.
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