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May Jewelry Sales Up 2% As Demand Shows Signs of Revival

June 10, 2024 /

Mother’s Day jewelry sales out did last year’s as five months into the year we are identifying possible signs of a turnaround in US consumer demand. For the second month in a row, jewelry sales rose, up 1.8% year over year. The average expenditure per item increased 2% in May, however the number of units sold was flat.

The Jewelry Index, a tracker that follows jewelry commodity spot prices, shows an upward trend started in March.

On May 10-11, the Friday and Saturday leading to Mother’s day, sales value jumped 5% over the two days preceding Mother’s Day in 2023.

Some indications of retailers’ improved outlook of the year were observed at the just concluded trade shows in Las Vegas. Most exhibitors reported higher demand from buyers than they had last year. The sole depressed demand at JCK was for loose lab-grown diamonds, leading to substantially low prices. More on that below.

Finished Jewelry Sales Improved This Mother’s Day

Finished jewelry, a popular Mother’s Day gift item, had a positive performance. By value, sales rose 2% year over year, despite a 0.5% decline in the number of units sold.

The rise was driven by a 2.6% increase in expenditure per item, to $966. The star performers were tennis bracelets with a 21.4% leap in sales by value and 26% jump in unit sales.

Mother's Day Jewelry sales - US Finished Jewelry monthly sales Jan 2020 - May 2024 - Tenoris

Spend on Natural Diamond Jewelry Inched Up

Sales of finished jewelry sat with natural diamonds increased 0.7% with average expenditures rising 2.8% to $1,856. Fashion rings were the top selling article, nearly one in every nine items sold in May.

Finished diamond engagement rings, the most important single jewelry item a jewelry store can offer, are continuing to suffer from a decline. Year over year, unit sales declined 3.8% and the revenue they generated decreased 4%.

The average expenditure on natural diamond engagement rings was fairly steady at $3,963.

One of the issues impacting natural diamond sales is the slow purchase rate. They sell on average within 19 months, while most jewelry items sell on average within 16 months. As such, they are a slower revenue generating item.

Lab-Grown Diamond Jewelry is Very Concentrated

LGD-set finished jewelry continues to see an increase in units sold, rising 53% year over year. And while revenue is still up, the average price keeps falling, down 8% from May 2023.

Rings remain the dominant category for lab-grown diamonds, holding 62% of LGD jewelry sales by value and 48% by units sold. Together with stud earrings they are 68% of LGD-set units sold.

That is possibly changing. With the ease of creating matching sets, there is a rise in demand for tennis bracelets. The number of units sold doubled year over year, and the revenue it generated retailers was up 150%.

Engagement rings set with LGD are continuing to capture consumers’ attention. Unit sales soared 39% but revenue rose just 17% as the average expenditure by American consumers keeps shrinking, down 8%.

US lab-grown diamond engagement ring sales trend Jan 2020-May 2024 - Tenoris

Diamond Sales Were Better This Mother’s Day

As expected, overall loose diamond sales increased in May, driven by Mother’s Day demand. Diamond unit sales rose more than 9% year-on-year. However, the decline in prices resulted in a much more milder 0.7% increase in the total value of sales.

Natural Diamond Sales Showing Positive Signs of Revival

There is some good news for the diamond industry. In May, prices of natural diamonds increased by 5.6% from April and 0.7% year-over-year. The average consumer expenditure on loose naturals remained high at $10,071 per item.

Prices of 1 carat rounds rose 0.7% month over month, and 2 carat rounds gained 2.4% in a sign of a possible turnaround in price declines.      

Further, for the fourth consecutive month, total sales were up on a month-over-month basis, rising a mid-single digit. While total sales value is still lagging behind year over year, this remains an interesting trend worth paying attention to in the coming months leading to the holiday season.

Retailers’ costs in May – what they paid diamond traders for the diamonds they purchased – were mixed. Month over month, traders charged retailers on average 10% more for 0.30-carats and 3.5% for 2-carats. For half-, one-, and 3-carats traders reduced prices, down 8%, 1.4%, and 9.3%, respectively.

Average Retailer Cost Per Carat Natural Diamonds - four carat ranges Jan 2020 - May 2024 - Tenoris

Lab-Grown Diamonds Popular Mother’s Day Choice

Lab-grown diamond sales were buoyed by Mother’s Day demand, leading to an atypical year-over-year rise in sales value. Unit sales continued to rise, up 26% versus May 2023.

LGD prices kept sinking in May, down on average 20% year over year. Larger, more popular items are leading the price declines. One carat rounds were down 29% year over year, and 2-carat rounds fell 32%.

Retailers’ costs also continued to fall, dropping even faster than retail prices. One carat rounds dropped 38% year-on-year, 2 carats declined 40%, and the averaged cost of three carats was sliced by half in May.

These sharp declines are signs of oversupply and competition among LGD traders. Some may even characterize it as desperation: move goods at all costs.

A manifestation of this was clearly evident at the just concluded JCK trade show. For the first time, the number of exhibiting LGD traders was down and their asking prices were so low that a couple promoted themselves with $100 per carat offerings. Many of the traders offered deep discounts for cash and large volume transactions.

Average Retail Price of 2 carat lab-grown diamonds Jan 2020-May 2024 - Source Tenoris.bi on Mother's day jewelry sales

About Tenoris

Tenoris collects retail sales data from a broad representative sample of US jewelry retailers. 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 provide comprehensive insights of the US jewelry market and how you can gain access to this data.

Featured photo: Jon Tyson


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