Independent jewelers’ share of the U.S. diamond jewelry market has fallen, with chains and online grabbing a larger piece of the pie, according to De Beers’ Market Insight Report, released on Sept. 21.
Single-store independents remain the biggest sales channel in the diamond jewelry market, but not by much. According to De Beers’ data, one-location independents accounted for 35 percent of diamond jewelry sales in 2014. National chains ranked close behind with 31 percent.
Prerecession 2007 saw a far greater spread. Back then, independent jewelers claimed 56 percent of the market and national chains, only 25 percent.
Small and medium-size chains—defined as chains with between two and 10 stores—saw their market share expand from 2 percent in 2007 to 11 percent last year.
Courtesy De Beers
According to De Beers executive head of strategy and corporate affairs Bruce Cleaver, the data does not break out online sales for two reasons: First, the company wanted a like-for-like comparison with 2007, and the prior survey did not measure online. Second, many of those online sales are associated with brick-and-mortar retailers.
The report does estimate that online sales comprise from about 7 to 13 percent of the diamond jewelry market. That is lower than the 18 percent the company reported last year.
“Last year’s number was based on consumer reports,” says Cleaver. “This is based on trade reports and is data that we are more comfortable with. But clearly, online is growing.”
Other facts from the report:
– Some 47 percent of U.S. retailers noticed more customers asking for diamond jewelry brands, up from 33 percent last year and 11 percent in 2010.
Forty percent of respondents told the survey they stock designer diamond jewelry lines such as Tacori, and one in seven carry diamond brands such as Forevermark and Hearts On Fire. Overall, 75 percent of retailers carry some form of branded diamond jewelry item, whether it’s a designer line, branded diamond, or proprietary brand, such as those carried by Signet.
Sales of branded diamond and diamond jewelry products comprise one in seven purchases, the report said.
– U.S. jewelry advertising rose in 2014—and watch advertising fell—though it’s too soon to say if that will hold long-term, Cleaver says.
Courtesy De Beers
“In 2014, there was some pleasing growth in diamond jewelry share of voice compared to some other categories that we have traditionally lagged behind,” he adds. “We would probably want to be cautious and get more data before we say that is a trend.”
– The United States now makes up 42 percent of the world’s diamond market—its highest level since the financial crisis. China ranked a distant second place, with a 15 percent share.
The United States was also the best-performing market in 2014, posting a 7 percent jump in sales. The overall diamond market hit a record last year, exceeding $80 billion for the first time.
The full report can be downloaded here.