At Press Time
Jewelers did well this holiday season, as diamonds and white metals
To the delight of retailers, jewelry was a favorite among shoppers during
the holiday season; most reported sales were up.
According to the International Council of Shopping Centers, jewelry store
sales in malls were more than 14% ahead of 1996 in the first week of December,
and sales continued strong throughout the season.
Betty Woolsey of Jones Brothers Jewelry, Peoria, IL, summed up the mood
of many jewelry retailers. "I keep reading that jewelry is coming out
of the doldrums. It seems to be media-driven," she said. "People
read it and believe it. It's OK to buy a luxury item again."
While diamonds may be a girl's best friend, they also were great pals
with jewelers during the holiday season. Customers snapped up diamonds in
all forms - solitaires, bracelets, solitaire necklaces, stud earrings and
anniversary bands. Some of this diamond mania may have been fueled by the
holiday De Beers promotions showcasing the diamond solitaire necklace. "For
us it's the bezel-set diamond pendant," said one Maryland jeweler.
"It's absolutely selling like hotcakes."
Diamond engagement rings also were popular, with many stores reporting
good sales of rings with 1-ct. and larger stones.
White metals were hot sellers, with platinum leading the way. But 18k
white gold was popular also, as was two-tone gold jewelry. Chains, always
a big seller, continued to be strong. Jerry Thornton of Thornton & Sons,
Dixon, CA, credited lower gold prices.
Pearls - white and colored South Sea varieties - sold well. "We've
done very well with pearls of all kinds - black, white South Sea and akoya
- in strands and in earrings," said Simon Katz of Simon's Jewelers,
Clayton, MO. Carl Schmieder, Schmieder & Son, Phoenix, AZ, said he sold
more pearls than he expected.
There was disappointment in colored stone jewelry sales. "This season
we're selling only a modest amount of colored stone pendants," said
Steven Ginsberg, Ginsberg's Jewelers, Cedar Rapids, IA. However, within
the category, natural stones were faring better than lab-grown synthetics
- a turnaround from the situation for Holiday '96.
Despite the weakness, jewelry sales were strong in the vitally important
fourth quarter - jewelers sold merchandise across the board. "No one
area stood out," said Mike Golde of Kirk Jewelers in Westlake Village,
- by Jack Heeger, from staff reportsCopyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.