CHRISTMAS WRAP-UP

February 1998

At Press Time

CHRISTMAS WRAP-UP

Jewelers did well this holiday season, as diamonds and white metals shone brightly

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 Christmas

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, CA.

- by Jack Heeger, from staff reports




Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


 

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