JCK Las Vegas: Concentrate on Bridal Jewelry, Gassman Tells Jewelers

The bridal industry remains a huge
business for jewelers, analyst Ken Gassman said at his keynote address titled
Minimize Inventory While Maximizing Your Bridal Opportunity, sponsored by
Unique Settings.

“Bridal jewelry can increase your
revenues, but only if you have the goods to sell the customer,” he said. “You
need to become bridal headquarters for your area.”

He noted the recession has not
affected the number of marriages in the United States. He predicted bridal
demand would grow dramatically, and cited an estimate of 2.6 million marriages
a year in the future.

The current bridal jewelry market is
$12 billion, representing 20 percent of all jewelry sales. It will grow to $15
billion by 2016. Engagement rings are a $7.7 million business, and wedding
bands account for $3.3 billion.

Currently, 76 percent of brides get
a diamond engagement ring, with an average ticket of $4,500 to $6,000.

The factors affecting an engagement
ring purchase include the reputation of the jeweler, staff knowledge, and prior

Most brides who choose the ring go
for style first, Gassman said. “It’s all about the look for the bride.”

Fifty-five percent of brides said
diamond brands were not important. Most paid more attention to the store’s
brand. “It’s important, as owners of your store, that you brand your store,”
Gassman said.

In addition, 53 percent of all
couples purchase wedding bands. About half the couples buy both rings at an
independent jeweler.

Gassman estimated that the potential
revenue for bridal purchases for independent jewelers is $8,100 to $9,600. He
said one way to do maximize revenue is to stay in touch with the bride and
groom after the purchase.

“Call them, send him an e-mail,” he
said. “Let them know that you’re still there. Selling an engagement ring to a
couple is the beginning of a lifelong relationship. It’s a gateway business for

He said the Millennial generation is
different from the Boomers, and you can’t sell jewelry to them the same way.
“The Boomers wanted what the Joneses have,” he said. “The Millennials don’t
want what we’ve been selling to their parents. We have to give them something
different and something unique.”

He noted that Millennials are ready
to wait for a perfect item. “The implication for jewelers: You don’t have to
deliver it that day,” he said. “But you do need to close that sale and collect
that money. You want to take them off the market.”

Millennials are also sensitive to
environmental concerns and want to touch the merchandise. “We are a touch and
feel society,” he said. “Have [consumers] handle the rings as much as

They also want a shopping experience. “They want
more than for you to sell them a ring,” he said. “They want an experience
they’ll remember. Take a picture of them buying the ring. Five years from now,
they will remember the photograph and your store, but they won’t remember the
discount you gave them.”

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