March 12, Jewelers of America (JA) and the Jewelers Board of Trade (JBT) jointly released their 2019 Retail Jewelers Benchmarking Study—a report packed with 2018 financial information collected from U.S. retail jewelers.
The survey was sent to retail jewelers “in a variety of operational capacities ranging from independents to companies with multiple locations,” according to a JA release. It included 350 questions spanning six different areas of business, including merchandise and services, operation and staffing, e-commerce and social media, budget and expenses, key performance indicators, and employment.
The full study, priced at $295, is offered to retailers primarily so they can use its data to gauge how their store’s profitability, productivity, and financial performance compare to industry averages—and then make moves to increase profitability.
Here are some key takeaways from the study:
What retailers are selling (merchandise)
++ More than 90% of respondents offered the following products: karat gold jewelry (95%), natural diamond jewelry (95%), repairs and appraisals (94%).
++ 80%–90% offered: precious and semiprecious jewelry (90%), sterling silver jewelry (86%), pearl jewelry (86%), natural loose diamonds (82%).
++ 50%–75% offered: women’s Jewelry (74%), timepieces and watchbands (69%), all other fine jewelry (61%), fashion jewelry (54%), previously owned jewelry that’s less than 100 years old (54%).
++ 25%–50% offered: metal (buying and selling) (46%), lab-grown loose diamonds (38%), beads and charms (36%), antiques/estate jewelry 100+ years old (32%).
++ Less than 25% offered: lab-grown jewelry (22%), “other” (19%), flatware and china (10%).
What retailers sold in net sales
++ Natural diamond jewelry, along with timepieces, made up for 50% of selling.
++ Beads and charms (at 11% due to a single company with 60+ locations that’s skewing the percent ratio).
++ Natural loose diamonds (at 8%; this increases to 12% without the multi-location company)
++ Precious and semi-precious (7%)
++ Repair and appraisals (6%)
++ Karat gold jewelry (5%)
Takeaway: The majority of sales came from natural diamond jewelry as the No. 1 category at over 30% sales penetration, followed by timepieces at 17%. Both of these categories represent half of most retailers’ sales with loose (natural) diamonds, precious and semiprecious, and repair and karat gold jewelry occupying the top positions. Pearl and sterling silver jewelry were one of the top offerings, but did not rank high as far as actual dollar selling due to lower unit prices.
Lab vs. natural diamond selling
++ For every 100 respondents who sold natural loose diamonds, about 34 also sold lab-grown loose diamonds.