Retail sales of diamond jewelry increased by 6.1% in the U.S. in 2003, according to the Diamond Information Center at J. Walter Thompson. Despite economic uncertainty and the gulf war, Americans continued to express their love by giving diamonds. U.S. diamond jewelry retail value–representing over 50% of world sales–totaled $29.1 billion last year, a $1.7 billion increase over 2002 sales of $27.4 billion. Transactions grew by 5% over 2002 and average ticket price showed 1% growth.
“The diamond jewelry industry has become increasingly focused on strong product ideas and effective marketing,” said Richard Lennox, director-in charge of the Diamond Marketing and Advertising Group at J. Walter Thompson. “At every level of the marketplace, retailers and manufacturers offered concepts with emotional appeal, such as three-stone diamond jewelry to celebrate your past, present and future. Our group is dedicated to understanding consumer desires — how diamonds can help people express their deepest feelings. We share that learning with the industry continuously so they can provide products and messages that touch the heart of the consumer.”
Three-stone diamond jewelry was a key driver of success in 2003. Over the past three years, three-stone diamond jewelry has become a $3 billion market segment. Three-stone pieces grew by 57% in 2003 on top of a whopping 74% growth in 2002.
In 2003, diamond engagement rings reached their highest average price at $2,500. This cultural imperative was acquired by 83% of U.S. brides last year, producing a total retail value of $4.3 billion, 1% higher than 2002.
In addition to traditional pieces and newer favorites, the 2003 diamond jewelry market was sparked by the arrival of Diamond Right Hand Rings. While it’s too early for sales results, this launch has already created a tremendous buzz on national television programs. Print ads from J. Walter Thompson encouraged women to “Raise Your Right Hand” in a gesture of sparkling self-expression. The message has struck a chord with consumers, with 65% of women surveyed agreeing that a diamond right hand ring is a good way to express individuality.