Consumers’ Taste for High-End Jewelry Grew

Jewelry and watch consumers in 2006 traded up to more luxurious choices, according to a recent survey.

In 2006, American consumers spent $62.2 billion buying jewelry and watches, posting a dramatic 6.5 percent increase over sales in 2005 of $58.4 billion, according to new research from Unity Marketing, Stevens, Pa. But it was the luxury end of the jewelry market that experienced the strongest growth last year with sales of fine watches rising 39 percent and fine jewelry up 10 percent. 

By contrast the fashion or costume segment in the jewelry market declined by 8 percent and sales of costume watches were off by 20 percent, according to the latest statistics on the jewelry and watch market, according to Unity Marketing’s Jewelry and Watch Report, 2007.

“The jewelry market went even more luxurious in 2006,” said Pam Danziger president of Unity Marketing and author of Shopping: Why We Love It and How Retailers Can Create the Ultimate Customer Experience.

“Jewelry shoppers moved more up-market in 2006, choosing to buy fine jewelry and watches more frequently, rather than their cheaper costume counterparts, Danziger added. With their eye on more expensive designs, they turned more often to specialty jewelry stores where they got expert advice which boosted their confidence to spend the substantial amounts they did for their purchases.” 

The shift in the jewelry consumer market toward more luxury is one of a number of important new trends discovered in the latest survey among 750 recent jewelry and watch consumers with an average household income of $72,906, an average age 41.6 years; and gender split 60 percent female and40 percent male, conducted by Unity Marketing. Other trends uncovered in the new study include:

* The men’s jewelry market came into its own in 2006 and is no longer an after-thought.

* Jewelry stores came surging back after losing share for several years.

* Demand for gemstone jewelry exploded, especially for colored semi-precious stones and diamonds.

* The market for fine watches grew dramatically in 2006, but the future looks less certain as younger consumers reject watches as a status symbol.

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