Coming 'Round

April 1998


Coming 'Round

De Beers' diamond solitaire necklace, with its understated bezel, is starting to attract consumers' attention. But how is it selling?

As erratic as an El Niño winter, the bezel-set diamond solitaire necklace proved an unpredictable sale during the holidays. Independent jewelers say sales ran the gamut from phenomenal and disappointing. At the end of the holidays, most agreed with Jerry Thornton of Thornton & Sons in Dixon, CA: "The diamond solitaire necklace did good, not great, but good."

Though it may be slow to take off for some jewelers, however, most also agree the style is here to stay. "It goes with the low-key way people dress," says Colleen Rafferty of Christensen & Rafferty Ltd., San Mateo, CA. Professional Jeweler gleaned other observations from a poll of retailers.

Consumer Recognition
About 30% of the people who bought the bezel-set necklace at Crescent Westwood Jewelers in Los Angeles asked for it specifically; others recognized it when they saw it, says jeweler Linda Abell. Successful retailers credited De Beers' promotional campaign for the solitaire necklace. Luckless jewelers guessed the ads are still too new: "I guess it's because husbands haven't seen it yet," says Tom Jerbic of The Diamond Palace in Las Vegas.

Marketing as Remounts
Several jewelers do an excellent remount business with the necklace. "I encourage women who are getting divorced to put the center stone into a diamond solitaire necklace," says Linda Brantley of Trein's Jewelry, Dixon, IL. "It makes the diamond a whole new piece; all ties with the past are gone."

Custom Design
Many create their own collections in a variety of sizes (1/3-ct. to 1-ct. sizes are popular), metals (18k white and yellow gold fight for first place) and styles (chubbier bezels). In-house design can enhance the stone rather than hide it, a frequent problem with bezels.

In-Store Promotion
In addition to relying on publicity from promotions, some jewelers are making an extra effort to point out the necklace's fashion value. One retailer laminated an In-Style magazine article showing celebrities wearing the necklace and placed it on her counter.

Carrying Over
Consumers are starting to recognize the bezel setting and buy it in other types of jewelry too. The look is becoming especially popular in diamond stud earrings and is catching on in engagement rings, wedding bands, fashion rings and gemstone jewelry.

Small-Town Blues
Despite tradition, many Midwestern jewelers have seen terrific results. Those less successful with the style often serve smaller markets. "We're about five to seven years behind the fashion trends," says Elizabeth Doubeck of Wattson & Wattson, Marquette, MI, located several hours north of Detroit. "We've sold only one of the necklaces since June."

Solitaires, Period
All this talk about the diamond solitaire necklace has been good for the category, whatever the setting. "There was virtually no interest for the bezel-set necklace at the holidays, but I did remarkably with four- and six-prong diamond solitaire necklaces," says David Christianson of Christianson Jewelry, Kendellville, IN.

by Stacey King

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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