2001 Diamond Jewelry Sales Down 1%

March 28, 2002

2001 Diamond Jewelry Sales Down 1%

The Diamond Information Center at J. Walter Thompson announced a smaller-than-expected sales drop for diamonds in 2001. The 1% drop marked the first time in more than a decade the overall diamond jewelry market experienced a drop in sales on an annual basis, said DIC. The group cited the weak economy, the national tragedy of Sept. 11 and the somber mood of the country as factors.

The decline in 2001 figures was not due to consumers refraining from making a diamond jewelry purchase, it was related to consumers making smaller purchases. Actual transactions grew by 2% while the average ticket price declined almost 3%.

"I can honestly say that I am more proud of this industry for what it has been able to accomplish in such a difficult year than when we grew the market by 12% in 2000, the year of the Millennium" says Richard Lennox, director-in-charge of the diamond group at J. Walter Thompson.

The diamond engagement ring category remained strong, 84% of U.S. brides acquired a ring in 2001, driving retail sales 5% higher than in 2000. This major segment did not see a drop in average price.

The three-stone diamond anniversary ring category grew explosively, accounting for one out of every 10 diamond-only ring purchases in the U.S. Three-stone diamond jewelry, in styles such as necklaces and earrings, also sold well, with growth rates of 34% in volume over 2000. J. Walter Thompson now promotes three-stone diamond jewelry for any occasion, not just anniversaries.

Diamond jewelry sales in the important fourth quarter holiday season were up 4% in value and 7% in pieces sold, reflecting consumers' increased desire after Sept. 11 to make heartfelt statements towards loved ones, says Lennox. Holiday sales accounted for 28% of all women's diamond jewelry sold in 2001.

by Peggy Jo Donahue

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