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US Jewelry Market Positive in November Holiday Season

December 11, 2023 /

Overall US fine jewelry and diamond retail sales rose in November versus November 2022, dispelling some of the worries that US consumers lost interest in jewelry this year. However, the improved sales were not enough to turn the tide completely. Year to date, sales are lagging behind 2022 and it is yet to be seen if demand in December will close the gap.

Year over year, sales rose 0.9% in November. The average per item price softened 0.6%, under scoring the year’s challenges – a decrease in spending per item. Alongside this, jewelry retailers’ gross margins keep expanding, up to 49.4% in November.

Year to date, sales are down 7.3%. Considering the modest rise in November, the year over year decline may shrink.

As for demand for lab grown, they captured an 11% share of total loose and diamond jewelry sales.

Jewelry Sales Up 1.5% in November

November finished jewelry sales recorded solid year-over-year growth with unit sales up 1.5% and retail sales revenue up 3.2%. The strength was broad based with most product categories and retail price points doing well.

Bracelet sales were up 8.1% in units and 4.8% in retail sales revenue. Necklaces were up 6.7% in units and 12.1% in retail sales revenue. Fashion rings were surprising a soft spot with unit sales down 5% and retail sales revenue down 5.5%. Bridal showed one of its strongest year over year performances in 2023 with units down 2.7% and retail sales revenue up 0.4%.

Sales by retail price points highlighted strength in the $1,000 to $5,000 retail price range, up 5.6% in units and 5.9% in retail sales revenue. The $5,000 to $10,000 price range recorded an increase in unit sales of 4% and retail sales revenue of 3%. Items in the $10,000 to $20,000 price range showed unit growth of 4.2% and retail sales revenue growth of 2.8%.

The under $1,000 retail price point was essentially flat with units down 0.2% and revenue down 0.5%. The $20,000 to $100,000 price ranges showed softness with unit sales down 2.1% and sales revenue down 1%.

Diamond Jewelry Sales Up in November

Diamond jewelry exhibited solid growth with unit sales up 7.8% and revenue rising 11.7%.

Natural diamond jewelry showed significant strength as a holiday purchase with sales up 5.1% by units and revenue up 9.9%. The average sales price for natural diamond jewelry increased 4.7%. While by unit bridal jewelry set with natural diamonds declined 7.1%, revenue increased 3.2%.

Lab-grown diamond jewelry was up 51.2% by units sold and 35.9% in value, capturing 7.1% of diamond jewelry unit sales, up from 5% in November 2022. The average sales price for LGD jewelry declined 9.6%, year over year.

The LGD diamond engagement ring market is clearly illustrating the impact of lower costs per carat. Lab-grown diamond engagement rings in the $2,500 to $5,000 retail price range were up 43.3%. However, in the $5,000 to $7,500 retail price range, unit sales were down 23% year over year.

There is increasing difficulty in finding an appropriate LGD product to support higher price points.

US Consumers Are Dreaming of A Yellow Christmas

Sales of yellow gold continue to surge. Unit sales were up 18.6% in November and retail sales revenue up 23.3%.

Yellow gold jewelry sales chart Jan 2020-Nov 2023 - Source Tenoris.bi

The increase in unit sales was evident in all qualities with 10K up 20.9%, 14K up 19% and 18K up 17.6%. The same held true for retail price ranges with units in the $100 to $1,000 price range up 16.1%, $1,000 to $5,000 up 27.3% and $5,000 to $10,000 up 34%. The average sales price for yellow gold items was up 5%. White gold increased 1.4%.

Total Diamonds Sales Decreased in November

While loose diamond unit sales rose 16% in November on a year-over-year basis, revenue from these sales declined 4%. This creates the odd situation – although unit sales are at November 2021 levels, the significant decline in prices brought sales value to below those of November 2020.

Natural Diamond Sales Down 9% Over Price Declines

Demand for natural diamonds declined again at US jewelry stores. Year over year, the value of sales declined 9% and unit sales were down 4% in November. Average consumer expenditure on a diamond they picked for setting was $9,810, down 5.3% year over year.

Month over month, sales rose 15% by value and volume as holiday season shopping got underway.

Year to date, natural diamond sales took a beating. Sales fell 19.5% in the January to November period. But context is critical here: This was off an absolutely extraordinary demand for diamonds in 2021 through the first half of 2022. This decline was very much expected.

As jewelers keep focused on cash flow, they succeeded in improving their gross margins, despite the promotional prices.

A notable trend in loose natural diamond sales is the average diamond size consumers are buying. In November it inched up once again, reaching 1.66 carats. This is excellent news for retailers and the diamond industry as much more value is locked into goods weighing more than 1.50 carats.

The size ranges that had the greatest demand were 1.00-1.04, 1.50-1.59, and 2.00-2.24 carats. Collectively they represented 36% of stones sold in November.

Average Retail Price & Cost of loose natural diamonds Jan 2020-November holiday season 2023 - Tenoris.bi data

Loose Lab-Grown Diamond Demand Keeps Rising

Lab-grown diamonds are continuing to exhibit a growing divergence from natural diamonds. Sales were up by value and quantity, year over year and year to date, pricing, and by any other economic measure.

Year over year, loose lab grown sales soared 17.6% by value and 47% in units sold, as average retail prices sank 20%.

On a year-to-date basis, LGD enjoyed a fantastic year. Retail revenue rose 18.5% and unit sales leaped 53.5%.

Retailers are doing everything in their power to capitalize on it, mainly through gross margins. In November, retailers commanded a 65.5% average gross margin up 22% compared to November 2022.

Some trends are remarkably consistent. One such trend is that most sales of loose lab grown are in the $2,500-$5,000 price point range. In November 35% of unit sales were in this price range.

The 2.00-2.24 carat range accounts for 18% of sales, the most in demand weight range. Equally consistent is the color/clarity combination, which remains at EFG/VS1.

By shape, ovals are in growing popularity, now at 28% of consumer purchases. Finally, memo goods are 69% of sales.

All this tells us that consumer LGD tastes are relatively consistent. The economics, however, continues to evolve. Vendors keep cutting wholesale prices, and that is happening faster than retailers reduce retail prices.

Vendors are also more pressed to move product and lock in prices, supplying a lion share of loose LGD on memo.

About Tenoris

Tenoris collects retail sales data from a broad representative sample of US jewelry retailers. It covers more than 6.5% 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.

If you want a better understanding of the US jewelry market, contact us to discover how our reports and tools provide comprehensive insights of the market. Tenoris can help improve your business.

Photo: Ben White

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