How much jewelry was sold? A massive $11.5B less then believed

Edahn Golan

 We all know 2021 was the best year ever for jewelry sales, with US sales soaring like never before, but how much jewelry was sold in total? As always, the US government provides the figures – and a year later, it always revises them.

This time around, like most, the figures were revised down. And in some areas, the downward revisions were drastic.

The US Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis provides the most important source of US jewelry sales. It collects data from tax reports, open sources, and by surveys. A sizeable chunk of this data is derived from a number of assumptions. As more data comes in, the data gets revisited, and the value of how much jewelry was sold gets restated.

So how much jewelry was sold?

The latest revision restates all jewelry and watch sales data, going back to January 2017, more than four-and-a-half years of sales. In 2017 and 2018, sales were edged up, rising 0.3% and 0.7%, respectively.

However, in 2019, jewelry sales were revised down 0.5%. These are the updated figures of how much jewelry was sold in these three years:

2017: $59.3 billion (up from $59.0 billion)

2018: $61.3 billion (up from $60.9 billion)

2019: $61 billion (down from $61.3 billion)

The small 0.6% rise in sales previously reported in 2019 is now reported as a 0.6% decline.

How much was sold during the pandemic?

The bigger revisions affected 2020 and 2021. Here, the differences in how much was sold are large and dramatic.

In 2020, the year COVID broke out, sales were initially reported at $62.23 billion – a modest but meaningful 1.6% rise over the previous year.

The restated figures now state sales of $58.92 billion. This is a major restatement of how much was sold – down 5.4% from the previous figure or a massive $3.36 billion less.

The updated figure also means that in 2020, jewelry demand actually declined 3.3% compared to 2019.

But the genuinely surprising change in the reported value of US jewelry sales was for 2021.

After celebrating hard-to-believe 52% year-over-year growth, some of the cheer was perhaps a little premature. According to the most recent data, jewelry sales in the US totaled $86.4 billion, and not $94.5 billion, in 2021.

According to the updated figures, jewelry sales were up 46.7%, still a record rise in sales.

However, this is an 8.6% reduction, cutting an immense $8.1 billion from how much jewelry we believed was sold.

Together, 2020 and 2021 jewelry sales totaled $11.5 billion less than previously stated.

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Photo © Cartier.