Study Shows High Consumer Awareness of Ethnic Jewelry

August 29, 2006

Study Shows High Consumer Awareness of Ethnic Jewelry

A study conducted by the Jewelry Consumer Opinion Council (JCOC) shows that many consumers are aware of ethnic-inspired jewelry, and that the majority is open to purchasing it if they understand more about the styles available and the jewelry's background.

The study shows 65% of respondents are open to purchasing quality ethnic jewelry if they are educated about its background. For more than one-third of the survey respondents, fashion is a critical purchasing driver of ethnic-inspired jewelry. Almost a third say they would purchase jewelry indigenous to a place they are visiting on vacation, and 14% say they display ethnic pride by wearing jewelry representative of their culture.

The study also shows that most respondents are wary of quality issues of jewelry manufacturered in other parts of the world. In the study, 87% say they believe there is a difference in the quality of jewelry manufactured in different parts of the world, with 63% willing to pay more for a piece of quality ethnic jewelry depending on its origin.

More than half have spent up to $200 on a piece of ethnic jewelry, with nearly a quarter spending $200 to $5,000. Local craftsmen, undoubtedly for their individuality, are the most popular venue from which to buy ethnic jewelry, followed by national or regional jewelry chains, local independent jewelers and art fairs.

"Savvy retailers looking to carry jewelry that not only possesses fashion flare but also cultural significance would do well to incorporate quality ethnic-inspired pieces into their collections," says Elizabeth Chatelain, president of MVI Marketing, which founded the JCOC consumer panel. "Jewelers should keep current of fashion directions that reflect prevailing cultural influences to maintain accessory styles that complement those design trends."

Consumers are becoming more aware of ethnic jewelry as the United States increasingly becomes more multicultural, and as the economy increasingly becomes more global, the study suggests.

In addition, more than half of the panelists say they are interested in learning where the gemstones used in their jewelry were mined, and 69% were concerned that the gems were mined in an ethical way.

"Given this level of interest, jewelers should spend more time romancing the stone by discussing where gems come from, as well as the culture of the people who bring them to market," says Chatelain. "The door also is open for jewelers to tout their corporate social responsibility and industry efforts to ethically bring gems and other precious materials through the supply chain."

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