Professional Jeweler Archive: Women Who Buy Jewelry for Themselves

March 2001

For Your Staff/Selling to Women

Women Who Buy Jewelry for Themselves

Here are the current cultural influences that drive their purchases

All jewelry sales associates know the importance of female jewelry consumers and how selling to them requires a different approach.

We also know jewelry preferences go in cycles, and it’s important to follow cultural trends to continue selling to women successfully.

But how do these two concepts relate to each other and, more importantly, how do they affect your business?

The Woman Who Buys Jewelry for Herself

Women continue to gain business confidence and financial independence. In fact, women are starting more than half of all new businesses, according to the Small Business Administration. And in the past decade, women millionaires have increased from one in 100 to one in 10.

In the home, women handle 75% of family finances and retirement planning, controlling 60% of all U.S. wealth. Women volunteers continue to run Parent-Teacher Association chapters, local Red Cross units, art alliances, theater guilds and countless other organizations across the nation, controlling significant budgets for those groups too.

Women as Shoppers

Last year, women made or influenced 87% of all consumer spending decisions. In jewelry, women now buy 90% of all silver jewelry, 60% of all gold jewelry and 30% of all platinum. They’re shying away from low-end goods and buying fewer but higher-quality pieces. As consumers, women insist on spending their money wisely.

When buying jewelry for themselves, women are eager to upgrade to platinum and higher-karat gold, but they’ve exhibited an average spending threshold of $700 for impulse items. Bracelets and earrings in platinum and higher-karat gold under this price threshold have seen the largest percentage increases in sales. Remember, however, this is an average, which means some women will easily spend more.

Time is more precious than gold to these busy, self-aware and pragmatic customers. It’s not merchandise alone that will make them loyal customers, rather atmosphere, sales approach and business ethics. Waste her time by ignoring her or by using an aggressive closing technique and you’ll commit commercial suicide. She is looking to build a relationship through the personalization of products and services.

This is where determining a client’s personal color palette or helping her choose earrings that complement her face would be effective tools. Also, the charitable, community or environmental activities your business is involved in may become paramount to retaining this customer.

Make a Personal Statement

Fashion designers who’ve captured women’s attention, such as Donna Karan and Kate Spade, say the most-needed accessories in a woman’s wardrobe are those that make a unique personal statement. As the Jewelry Information Center tells us: “Women want jewelry to reflect who they are and what they have achieved.” The female consumer is looking for products and presentations that make her feel understood as an individual.


The need for women to play different roles in different situations has created what is being called “fragmented living.” This lifestyle change in conjunction with the loss of traditional gender roles and family support structure has created the need for connectivity.

But connectivity is more than just superficially connecting with the customer at the point of sale; it’s about connecting the customer with product knowledge and designer biographies and addressing her social or environmental concerns. It’s about connecting the dots of her fragmented life with symbols of achievement, family and spirituality.

In jewelry, this desire for connectivity in conjunction with the trend toward cross-cultural influences makes itself evident in the popularity of universal spiritual symbols. These icons create strong multiethnic and neoprimitive statements that give the feeling of reidentification with one’s “tribe” (or identification with a tribe whose values you admire).

Alternative finishes and surface textures also symbolize the need for connectivity by giving talismanic or historical resonance to a jewel.

In addition, the use of hand engraving to create family crests or an endearment on a jewel is the ultimate in personally connecting with a piece.

A Coordinated Look

Fragmented living, combined with a new flexibility in dress (including casual Fridays or casual everyday) has created a renewed need for jewelry to provide the finishing touch to a look. This has brought a return to jewelry suites. Earrings, necklaces, bracelets and rings connected by a designer’s concept offer a woman a way to present herself with a put-together, sophisticated look.


An outcome of the decline in rules and growth of cross-cultural influences is the desire for more flexibility from jewelry. The savvy woman who buys jewelry for herself looks to define and present herself in creative, non-traditional ways. Bracelets that transform into a necklace or a brooch that becomes a hair ornament will make the transition from a day at the office to a charity gala easier and the price more acceptable. Body jewelry is also a new product of these merging changes, with toe rings, thumb rings, nose rings and stomachers all now requested in the realm of precious jewelry.

Gold Returns

Higher-karat gold responds to the need for connectivity by symbolizing ancient ethnicity and purity. With high-karat gold making a strong comeback in the fashion world, we can make the coexistence of gold with platinum and other white metals a chance for the consumer to build wardrobes in both metals.

Color Builds

As long as the female consumer is freed from the misguided concept that gemstone color must match her clothing, the use of color in jewelry is unlimited. Because color has been absent from fashion for so many years, women must learn to incorporate it again into their wardrobes and lifestyles. This is where the salesperson’s connection to customers and a knowledge of their wardrobes are paramount to introducing new colors and styles. Coral and turquoise have resurged in popularity, joined these days with Tahitian cultured pearls and other color combinations.

Non-traditional gem fashioning have piqued women’s interest also, including briolettes, beads and carved cabochons. The shades of sky blue, soft pink, vivid orange, acid green, yellow and periwinkle are popular also and should continue to capture the feminine imagination. Women are approaching color with a completely fresh perspective. As long as the material or presentation is effective and beautiful, it will sell to today’s fashion-conscious woman.

The Hierarchy of Needs

Jewelry symbolizes the fulfillment of many of the higher needs psychologists tell us are important to human happiness, such as security, love and self-esteem. Connect your clients’ needs and desires with satisfying jewelry and connect your business with success.

– Nanz Aalund

Nanz Aalund, owner of Nanz Designz, Seattle, WA, has won numerous design awards, including an AGTA Spectrum Award this year.

“Passion Flower” torsade is hand-fabricated and consists of four strands of peach freshwater cultured pearls with granulated 22k yellow gold caps and toggle clasp. At 19 inches long, it is $5,400 suggested retail. Zaffiro, Portland, OR; (503) 236-6735,

Barrettes are hand-fabricated in granulated 22k yellow gold and have an 18k white gold clasp. Suggested retail, $500 each.

Zaffiro, Portland, OR; (503) 236-6735,

“Platinum Collection” ring is hand-fabricated and features a 0.55-ct. seafoam green tourmaline in 22k yellow gold with platinum and 22k yellow gold granulation. The band is also 18k yellow gold. Suggested retail, $1,350.

Zaffiro, Portland, OR; (503) 236-6735,

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications