A capsule look at business, economic and demographic trends affecting the jewelry industry JEWELRY SALES: THE MOMENTUM BUILDS Jewelers have good reason to be cheery this holiday season. Business has been good &endash; very good &endash; this year, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. It's true that sales were slow in the beginning of the year, but they've picked up considerably since then. In fact, jewelry stores outperformed most of the 18 other major retail categories in the first seven months of the year (the most recent figures available). Jewelry stores reported $8.3 billion in sales from January through July, up 8.0% from the same period of 1994. The only major retail categories with bigger increases were furniture group stores (up 10.4%); automotive dealers (up 9.1%); non-store retailers, such as vending machine, door-to-door and mail-order vendors (up 9.