U.S. Gold Jewelry Sales Up 2.5%; Gold Month Set to Launch in May

April 21, 2004

U.S. Gold Jewelry Sales Up 2.5%; Gold Month Set to Launch in May

Gold jewelry sales in the U.S. topped $16.3 billion in 2003, an increase of 2.5% from 2002. The sales growth came amid political uncertainty, a weak dollar and rising gold prices, says the World Gold Council. In a marketing initiative to drive more sales, WGC and Jewelry.com, with key support from Aurafin-OroAmerica and Andin International, are partnering to bring a gold jewelry marketing program to consumers across the U.S. under the banner "May is Gold Month."

This marks the thirteenth consecutive year of gold jewelry sales increases, according to the 16th annual U.S. gold jewelry sales summary conducted by NOP World (formerly RoperASW) and sponsored by WGC. The survey reports an increase of 3.9% in gold jewelry units sold over the year before, while the average price per unit declined by 1.3% to $76.17.

"We are encouraged by the leading retailers' increasing inventory commitment to gold jewelry," says Michael C. Barlerin, WGC's regional director, Americas. "Despite higher costs for the raw product, gold jewelry sales continue their moderate growth as female consumers choose to express themselves with the warm, stylish and evocative language of gold."

Consumer sales increased in several key categories. Bracelets increased in dollar sales volume by 8.2% and 6.8% in unit volume. Earring have shown positive growth every year over the last decade and continued to lead in unit volume with an increase of 6.6% in unit sales and a 2.6% increase in dollar sales volume, significantly influenced by the fashion worldıs embrace of yellow gold hoops, dangling chandelier-style earrings and shoulder-duster drop earrings.

Among retail outlets, mass merchants again led the field in the percentage increase of gold jewelry sales, reporting an increase of 3.6% in dollar sales volume ($3.688 billion) and 5.4% in units. Jewelry stores, the largest channel of distribution, reported an increase in sales of 2.3% ($8.054 billion) and a unit sales increase of 1.8%, and department stores increased dollar sales volume by 1.3% ($3.120 billion) and unit volume by 0.6%.

"Successful retail stores merchandised new collections during the fourth quarter, offering gold jewelry at a wide range of price points and styles and a good mix of fashion-forward yellow gold, two-tone and white gold choices," says Rick Bannerot, WGC's vice president of advertising in the US. "Value-added enhancements like enameling, hand-worked finishes and small diamond accents helped to sustain gold jewelry demand at retail."

All data contained in the survey is based upon the results of a retail market audit derived from confidential sales reports from a panel of more than 7,500 stores encompassing all major gold jewelry distribution channels. The statistics cover all classes of trade for men's and women's gold jewelry where the primary value is gold content, including jewelry that contains accent stones. Consumers, specifically women who continue to drive self-purchase demand, overwhelmingly choose gold as a luxury item for themselves and as gifts for their friends and loved ones.

Copies of the complete 2003 NOP World U.S. Gold Jewelry Retail Sales report are available from the World Gold Council.

In the "Gold Month" initiative, Jewelry.com is the online jewelry portal to a variety of gold jewelry styles in all price ranges, sold exclusively at J.C. Penney, Macy's, Sears and Zales. These participating retailers will feature their own themed gold jewelry collections in-store that evoke gold's ability to express warm and enduring emotional connections and convey a woman's individual sense of style.

"Given the current retail competition for a larger slice of discretionary income, we are pleased to help such a diverse group of jewelry retailers come together to promote gold jewelry's inherent value and evocative appeal," says Barlerin.

"Savvy retailers are aligning themselves with today's shoppers and offering fresh gold jewelry styles both online and in-store – wherever she shops," says Ofer Azrielant, CEO of Jewelry.com. "By coming together under the Jewelry.com banner, these retailers are taking advantage of the rising tide for contemporary gold jewelry promotion while making it their own event with unique gold product."

Throughout May, the four participating retailers will offer value-priced gold jewelry. A national media blitz, united by the WGC's "Speak Gold" theme, will reinforce the message that May is the time for consumers to adorn themselves or the ones they love with fine gold jewelry. The media campaign will be supplemented with in-store and in-mall messages, as well as direct mail and online marketing.

To support the promotion on Jewelry.com, print ads will be placed in leading consumer magazines like In Style andLucky as well as local newspapers, and radio commercials are being developed, additional gold jewelry pages will be added to the participating stores' catalogs and in-store events are planned across the country. A Gold Month Sweepstakes will offer 10 "instant win" prizes every day. A grand prize of a $5,000 gold jewelry wardrobe will be awarded at the end of the month. Over $1 million has been dedicated to advertising and marketing support by all the partners to promote Gold Month.

"The union of these retailing competitors, behind a single campaign, has one key precedent: the stores coexist on Jewelry.com – the largest fine jewelry Web site in the U.S.," says Michael Gusky, CEO of Aurafin-OroAmerica. "Jewelry.com was instrumental in bringing these key retail names together, allowing a 'cooperative competition' program to be established for the inaugural Gold Month. This convergence of manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers under the World Gold Council's media banner benefits the whole jewelry industry and its best customers."

You can see the jewelry and promotions on Jewelry.com.

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