­Affluent Jewelry and Watch Consumers Are Ready to Splurge This Holiday Season

It’s been a year and a half since JCK published the results of W magazine’s last consumer study on fine jewelry and watch buying (in our May 2012 issue), but the partnership between our publications is as strong as ever. As proof, we present the exclusive results of W’s Summer 2013 Jewelry/Watch Study, just in time to help you fine-tune your holiday buying (View the full results).

The survey’s 273 total respondents—with median household incomes of $242,445, including 110 with median incomes of $397,727—were asked to weigh in on their jewelry and watch choices and how they intend to splurge this season.

The results point to a conclusion that should come as welcome news to fine jewelry retailers: “People are feeling richer because they are,” says Lucy Kriz, vice president and publisher of W, citing the phenomenal growth of the stock market since 2009. “Consumers are in the market for fine jewelry—that’s a constant.”

We drew a few other conclusions from the research: Brand names, especially in the relatively unbranded jewelry arena, are becoming more important. Trends—emeralds, openwork gold, and gemstone slices—will come and go, but respect for artisanal, hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind pieces is forever. And despite the ­ubiquity of smartphones, affluent shoppers still buy timepieces that get them noticed (which explains why oversized styles and bold colors remain hot, hot, hot).

Yet the most uplifting finding of all has to do with women’s growing independence in the fine ­jewelry market: 84 percent of respondents feel confident about making fine jewelry purchasing decisions without checking with a significant other (up from 67 percent in winter 2009).

In W’s words, “Women are in the ­driver’s seat.” Which, to us, means one thing: Buckle up. It’s sure to be a fun, fast ride.