Study reveals strong interest in ethnic jewelry among U.S. consumers

A recent study conducted by the Jewelry Consumer Opinion Council reveals significant awareness among consumers of ethnic-inspired jewelry. In the study by JCOC, a market research e-panel of North American consumers founded by MVI Marketing Ltd, Paso Robles, Calif., 65 percent of the 2,930 respondents, are open to purchasing quality ethnic jewelry if they knew more about the styles available and its history.

For more than one third of the survey respondents, fashion is a critical purchasing driver of ethnic inspired jewelry, nearly a third are eager to mark a trip with jewelry reflecting the cultural nuances indigenous to the place visited, while some 14 percent choose to display ethnic pride by wearing jewelry representative of their culture.

A total of 87 percent believe there is a difference in the quality of jewelry manufactured in different parts of the world, with 63 percent willing to pay more for a piece of quality ethnic jewelry depending on its origin. More than half have spent up to $200 on a piece of ethnic jewelry, with nearly a quarter spending $200 to $5,000. Local craftsmen are the most popular venue from which to buy ethnic jewelry, followed by national or regional jewelry chains, local independent jewelers, and art fairs.

“Savvy retailers looking to carry jewelry that not only possesses fashion flare but also cultural significance would do well to incorporate quality ethnic-inspired pieces into their collections,” said Elizabeth Chatelain, president of MVI Marketing. “Jewelers should keep current of fashion directions that reflect prevailing cultural influences to maintain accessory styles that complement those design trends. Moreover, given that we live in a true melting pot in the United States, jewelers should examine the changing demographics of the region they serve to include designs inspired by cultures represented in their community.”

Jewelers showcasing designers who create culturally inspired jewelry bring a level of cachet to their collections, as well as greater pricing flexibility and unique marketing opportunities, Chatelain said.

Nearly a quarter of JCOC panelists report an interest in American-inspired ethnic pieces, which indicates “A desire for jewelry that incorporates elements and/or traditions native to areas throughout our country,” Chatelain said.

More than half of the panelists expressed interest in learning where the gemstones used in their jewelry were mined, and an even greater number, at 69 percent, were concerned that the gems were mined in an ethical way.

“Given this level of interest, jewelers should spend more time romancing the stone by discussing where gems come from, as well as the culture of the people who bring them to market,” Chatelain said. “The door also is open for jewelers to tout their corporate social responsibility and industry efforts to ethically bring gems and other precious materials through the supply chain.”

To view the study, visit