Market Place

DESIRE FOR DIAMOND JEWELRY AT HIGH MARK

Get ready for a diamond-happy season, says the Diamond Information Center in New York City. Demand for diamonds is up from 1995 in all areas, among all age groups and in both genders.

Among the 2,600 married women between 25-64 who were studied, 63% have their hearts set on or would very much like to receive diamond jewelry, up from 59% in 1995.

Men are even more bullish on diamonds, proving truly that ’tis better to give than receive. A full 69% are in the mood for giving diamond jewelry, up from 66% in 1995.

Though the demand is strong all through the studied age groups, it’s particularly strong among 25-54 year-olds, says Andrea Halberstadt, marketing manager for the Diamond Marketing Group of the De Beers account at J. Walter Thompson.

A look at the group’s age-study charts reveals even more. Young men from 25-34 are particularly bonkers about giving diamond jewelry – 77% of them, as jewelers would expect among this marriageable age group. But though diamond desire declines somewhat among older women (only 51% of 55-64 year-olds want diamonds badly), it doesn’t wane as much for men in the same age group. A full 60% of them still want very badly to bestow a gift of diamond jewelry on the women in their lives.

Don’t count women out completely, however, especially those diamond jewelry junkies on your client list. The study shows that the more diamonds you have, the more you want. Whereas only 45% of women who own one piece want more diamond jewelry, a whopping 74% of women who own six-plus pieces want more.

The Diamond Information Center study also defuses the threat posed by other luxury products. While 26% of women and 34% of men list diamond jewelry as their first choice for a gift to receive or give, only 1% and 2% list furs, and 8% and 4% list antiques. Even other jewelry store products fared badly. Only 5% of either group listed jewelry with pearls or emeralds as being first among their gift choices, and 2% and 1% listed fine watches.

Not surprisingly, the study also showed that the more money you have, the more desire for diamonds you have. Those with incomes over $50,000 had a stronger interest in giving and receiving (67% to 73%) versus those in lower income brackets (55% to 66%).

The Diamond Information Center also noted that according to a study of retailers it conducted, a high number feel optimistic about the current selling season and about diamond jewelry’s prospects. The jewelers surveyed project growth of about 8% on average in diamond jewelry, underscoring DIC’s statistics and the widespread belief that the holidays will be jolly.

CLOTHES CALL

Most women don’t discard clothes just because they’re “out of style,” reports Women’s Wear Daily. To the chagrin of the apparel industry, which thrives on product obsolescence (i.e. fashion), 60% of respondents surveyed in a spring study replied they “never” throw out perfectly good clothes solely because they’re out of style. Almost 30% said they “seldom” do, while only 9.2% said they “often” discard clothing on the basis of whether or not it’s in style.

Here are some of the survey’s other findings:

  • Women age 18-34 were most likely to be influenced by a particular designer, women age 35-44 were most likely to be influenced by the media.

  • For respondents overall, the big-gest influence was peer pressure, followed by the media and then fashion designers.

  • Women in the highest income group, with a household income of more than $75,000 annually, most often responded to new fashion and the second largest fashion-responsive group was women with moderate household income of $25,000 to $39,999.

That this moderate income group is represented draws interest to another WWD finding that debt doesn’t stop middle-income shoppers. Their debt might be growing faster than most groups, but they still seem willing to spend money and show no sign of stopping soon.

Consumer debt has steadily edged up over the past few years, but some analysts say the figures tell only half the story. Increases in home appreciation values and decreases in unemployment keep consumers in the stores, and though consumer credit debt is high, the interest rates on that debt are lower than during the last recession.

Robert Barr, deputy chief economist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, admits rising interest rates could squeeze consumer dollars, but he feels this would affect durable goods rather than apparel. Carl Steidtmann, chief economist and director of research for Management Horizons, argues the high-riding debt could spell big trouble for all retailers in the long run, because the next recession will probably be longer and harder than it would have been without the debt.

An Auction With Heart

Dicker & Dicker Jewelers of Beachwood, Ohio, is sponsoring “A Gem of an Evening” jewelry auction on Sunday, Dec. 7 at 1:30 p.m., to benefit the American Heart Association.

The event is the outgrowth of the retailer’s popular estate jewelry auctions, which owner David Dicker started 10 years ago in response to the “good old boys club” at the major auction houses. Now attracting thousands of followers from coast to coast, Dicker proposed the jewelry auction as a fundraising idea to non-profit organizations.

AHA jumped at the suggestion. “This is the first time I’ve ever heard about something like this as a fundraiser,” says Terri Jones, public relations representative for the AHA of Northeast Ohio. “The auction will benefit heart research foremost, then community programs.”

AHA hopes to collect 200 estate jewelry donations for the event. Dicker & Dicker is accepting consignments through mid-November.

Opening bids for all items will be $1. The growing auction catalog is available on Dicker & Dicker’s Web site, which receives 40,000 hits a month and can be accessed at http:// www.dickeranddicker.com.

“It’s a win-win situation,” says David Dicker. “People who donate jewelry can write off the retail value on their taxes.” Those who wish to consign jewelry can contact Dicker at (216) 464-0400.

GOLD SALES UP, TRENDS IMPORTANT

U.S. gold jewelry retail sales increased for the fifth consecutive year in 1996, reaching a total of slightly more than $12 billion. This was a 5% gain over 1995 sales. Unit sales for 1996 rose 6.8% over 1995, to approximately 140 million.

The World Gold Council says it is imperative for retailers to stock the key trendsetting items to keep customers coming back. Here, from the most recent World Gold Council Jewelry Market Report, are some of the top trends:

• Necklaces remain the most popular classification of gold jewelry. Current new favorites include station chains with beads and stars, white and yellow gold combinations, baby rings on snake chains, messages, multiple dangling drops, meshes, all-white looks and fringe details. Neckwires still look fresh, along with patterned omega chains and lariats.

• In earrings, popular looks include the hinged hoop, often reversible; cutouts, texture, meshes and bead dangles or fringe. Buttons remain classic, nature themes and white gold continue strong and half-hoops are gaining popularity in a variety of sizes and finishes.

• Bracelets are the fastest growing category, with new interest emerging in ID bracelets. Popular are reversible styles, especially white to yellow, and the “XO” motif remains classic. New are tricolor mesh looks. Bold cuffs continue, and other necklace themes like messages and stations are expanded into bracelets, along with continued interest in floral designs and heart links.