The card game company Cards Against Humanity has a long history of pulling Black Friday stunts, writes Laura Hudson for The Verge. "This year, Cards Against Humanity has decided to take its disdain for the capitalistic holiday to an absurd new extreme with a 99 percent off sale on a rotating series of expensive and spectacularly bizarre items," she writes. “Every ten minutes, a new deal will go live on this page," reads the official website. "Don’t be frightened by the deals.
Russian diamond mining giant ALROSA teamed up with GfK (Growth from Knowledge), consumer research company, to examine the purchasing trends among diamond consumers. The US is the world’s largest consumer market of diamond jewelry, and China is the most rapidly growing market, and the study shows why. The research was conducted in the autumn of 2017, surveying more than four thousand people from the US and China who had bought or received diamond jewelry as a gift within the last 12 months, and targeting men and women aged 25 to 55 years with average or above average income.
Jewelers of America (JA) released the results of their US “Fine Jewelry Industry Consumer and Retail Market Study” conducted by Provoke Insights. The study surveyed two groups, the retailers and the consumers, and Michelle Graff listed some of the key findings.
JCK news director Rob Bates takes a look at the resurgence of independent bookstores in the U.S. and sees parallels with independent jewelry retailers: "It’s clear the jewelry industry - and in particular the number of independent jewelers - is shrinking. But that’s true of retail overall. And, until recently, it was true of independent bookstores. If you compare today versus decades ago, the number of brick-and-mortar booksellers has fallen. But the independent segment has reversed that trajectory. The number has risen for the last eight years.
Arriving at Antwerp’s splendid 19th century Central Station, with its marble staircases, iron and glass vaulted ceiling and gilded details, shoppers visiting Antwerp are filled with high expectations about the jewelry boutiques awaiting them in the world’s diamond capital. For years these expectations were quickly dashed, as consumers were confronted with myriad uninviting and less-than-reputable jewelry shops once they left the station. Where to turn?
Debra LaBudde launched Memo, an ecommerce site that specializes in fine jewelry. The name of the brand refers to the consignment practices within the jewelry and diamond industry, wich served as the inspiration for her concept. LaBudde noticed there was an untapped market for fine jewelry, “(I saw) an interesting opportunity in the marketplace that, in my mind, hasn’t been well served, and that ultimately could create a larger market.”
At the 2017 Geneva motor show Rolls-Royce will be presenting its most brilliant car to date. The Rolls-Royce Ghost Elegance is mechanically identical to the Ghost, the only difference being the paint which includes a powder originating from 1,000 ethically-sourced diamonds.
The price of the exclusive Rolls-Royce was not announced, however it will likely be a tad over the US$274,050 (£223,368) base price for a Ghost.
Helen H. Wang, an award-winning author and expert on China’s middle class, writes for Forbes that Chinese millennials, in addition to their burgeoning numbers (by 2020, Chinese millennials are expected to reach 300 million strong, compared to 80 million in the U.S.) have two distinct advantages over their U.S. counterparts: no student loan debt and no housing expenses. According to China National Administration of Tourism, writes Wang, more than 120 million Chinese traveled abroad in 2015, spending $194 billion.
JCK's Emili Vesilind digs into Cassandra's SHOP Report, which its website describes as, "A deep dive into young consumers' habits and attitudes around the future of retail, shopping, and spending," and aims to provide, "a comprehensive portrait of the evolving ways Gen Y (also known as Millennials) and Gen Z are approaching the purchasing process and the dynamic role that brands are playing in the lives of these influential young consumers." Vesilind writes, "Emily Anatole, Cassandra’s associate insights director,
Jean-Marc Lieberherr is CEO of the Diamond Producers Association, formed in May 2015 by seven of the world’s leading diamond companies to maintain and enhance consumer demand for, and confidence in diamonds. Lieberherr joined Rio Tinto’s diamond business in 2005, "a life-changing move", he tells us. With the official launch of DPA's "Real is Rare. Real is a Diamond." campaign to take place in early October, Lieberherr lays out his vision of the DPA and responds to some questions on key issues in the diamond industry.
Shouldn't we be telling consumers the back-story about how the jewelry they are being offered was created, asks the JCK's Rob Bates. "Craftsmanship is basic to an item. It’s how it gets its value. It’s what makes it beautiful. And yet many don’t know all the intricate, painstaking work that goes into making a piece of jewelry. But it’s a great story. And it could be one of our industry’s best selling points.
Despite all the talk of the millennial generation and younger people being overwhelmingly digitally connected, a new study in the UK emphasizes the ongoing importance of physical stores in driving retail sales. Of the £313 billion ($410 billion) spent by UK consumers in 2015, £278 billion (89%) “touched” a store through physical sales, click & collect and online sales browsed in store, according to research firm Verdict Retail and British Land.
Charles Wyndham is left singularly unimpressed with the Diamond Producers Association (DPA) new slogan, as part of its marketing strategy, of ‘Real is Rare. Real is a diamond.’ It falls far short of the legendary ‘A Diamond is Forever’ slogan which hit the emotional value of diamonds and also the fact they are a store of value. But it also aims for the wrong target and even succeeds in missing that, he comments. "My assumption is that the key aim of this tag line is to combat the threat of synthetic, or as I would prefer [to call them] cultured diamonds.
After posting a $5.6 billion loss for 2015 as a global rout in commodity prices punished the costly mines it operates around the world, mining giant Anglo American (AA) entered a drastic restructuring phase intended to reduce its total number of mining operations from 45 to 16, but it is holding onto De Beers.
Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd., the largest jewelry retailer in China, posted heavy falls in mainland sales in the first quarter of 2016 from a year ago. Same-store sales of jewelry plunged 24% while those of gold products slumped 29%. The company said a growing number of mainlanders are traveling overseas to shop for luxury items and other products, while the country’s slowing economy has battered consumption. The important Hong Kong and Macau markets posted a 26% decline in the value of combined sales and a 27% drop in same-store sales.
"Very few speak of the good diamonds have done for some of the poorest people in the world," write Mark Boston and Vinod Kuriyan in a blog article on GemKonnect. "Of the positive influence on communities in literally every single continent barring uninhabited Antarctica." With the world's attention grabbed by evils such as terrorists, people traffickers, sex slavers, and drug cartels that destroy millions of lives, good deeds don’t get the sort of publicity that evil does.
China's largest jewelry retail chain, Chow Tai Fook, is spreading its wings further afield and is aiming to expand more broadly into retail in a bid to capture some of the business of Chinese retail giant Alibaba and other Internet retailers. It invested $54 million in shopping platform CTFHOKO.com in December and a mall to showcase products sold online, offering genuine imports such as infant formula, diapers and cosmetics at prices at least 10 percent cheaper than shops in mainland China and is aimed at consumers wary of counterfeit goods online, according to a Bloomberg report.
Residents of New York plump for higher-quality stones, while buyers in Maryland go for bigger diamonds, according to a state-by-state analysis by WP Diamonds, a division of White Pine Trading, a leading buyer and seller of recycled diamonds. The survey covers all 50 states and relates to the last 15,000 inquiries from customers.
Under the motto, "If you want it done right, do it yourself", Belgian publication Flair Magazine has launched an "Ask him to marry you" campaign to encourage women to reverse traditional roles and propose to their partners. It will award a $2,500 diamond engagment ring, donated by the Antwerp World Diamond Centre, to the most original marriage proposal.
According to the National Retail Federation’s final consumer holiday spending survey of the season, only about 10 percent of holiday shoppers have finished their Christmas shopping, meaning around 200 million have still to complete. The NRF says that many consumers have not had the time, while many more are waiting for prices to inevitably be reduced as Christmas approaches.
Around a quarter (24%) of affluent consumers plan to give jewelry and watches as holiday gifts, in line with previous years, according to the annual Survey of Affluence and Wealth, conducted by YouGov in partnership with Time Inc. The survey found that jewelry purchases are largely driven by consumers in the top 1 percent of all incomes, defined as those with an income of $450,000 and more. Almost one-third (31%) plans to buy jewelry or a watch, versus 21% of the rest of the population. Meanwhile, 35% of millennials plan to buy jewelry or watches, versus 22% in other age groups.
With Hong Kong suffering the worst retail downturn in more than a decade, and Chinese tourists deterred from spending by a weaker yuan and the Beijing government's crackdown on corruption and conspicuous spending, jewelry retailer Plukka wants customers to see and feel their products before committing to buying. The start-up aims to go public in Australia on Friday and launched in Hong Kong and New York last month.
Analytics company comScore forecasts a 14-percent rise on the year in November-December 2015 holiday season spending with total online retail spending of $70.1 billion. Mobile commerce is predicted to account for $11.7 billion of retail spending, representing 17 percent of total digital commerce and growing at a rate of 47 percent from last season. Meanwhile, spending via desktop computers is expected to reach $58.3 billion, up 9 percent year-over-year. In total, digital commerce is expected to account for about 15 percent of consumers’ discretionary spending.
Mid-priced jewelry, which could also be termed affordable luxury, is all the rage right now, writes The Telegraph. "It sits exactly half-way along the food chain: it’s not the cheap-and-cheerful high-street offering, but nor is it the wildly expensive pieces to be found on Bond Street." Pieces are usually sterling silver, gold-plated or made from 9 carat or 14ct gold, and consequently maintain a low price point. Stones are semi-precious (moonstone, labradorite, quartz, topaz), synthetic or tiny, pavé-set diamonds.
Total sales of fine jewelry and fine watches in the United States in September were up 4.8 percent on the year, making it the largest monthly gain in more than two years. Specialty jewelers are not seeing the benefits of the rise in sales, however, posting a 0.6 percent decline in sales, while multi-line retailers – mostly the discount chains – saw sales surge 8.5 percent.
The gem and jewelry has a long way to go to convince consumers that jewelry is a product category worth aspiring to along the lines of the iconic car-maker's high-class products, writes Vinod Kuriyan who adds that "we need the consumer to mentally instantly make the connection with not only high quality but also the highest ethical standards. This is what also what will trigger instant approval when the word “jewelry” is mentioned.
Around half of engagement ring buyers don't know the clarity of the diamond in the ring they buy, and around one-third couldn’t provide its color or cut grades, according to a new survey of engagement ring buyers conducted by The Wedding Report, JCK reports. “As much as the industry tries to make the Four Cs the standard, I don’t think most consumers really understand them,” said Shane McMurray, the site’s founder and CEO. “That seems to me an opportunity for the industry either to change the way it communicates or remove that verbiage. Because consumers just don’t know or care.”
Signet Jewelers is to rename its Kay Jewelers unbranded products as “Kay Now & Forever” as part of a wide range of holiday-season initiatives. Other proposals include the launch of 250 new-look Kay store formats that may push its clientele to a higher class of customer, as well as an arrangement with De Beers for two-stone diamond campaign under the “Ever Us” brand, Rapaport reported.
The National Retail Federation announced (NRF) forecasts sales in November and December (excluding cars, gas and restaurant sales) to increase by 3.7 percent to $630.5 billion — significantly higher than the 10-year average for holiday season sales of 2.5 percent. The November-December sales figures are expected to account for almost 20 percent of the retail industry’s annual sales of $3.2 trillion. In addition, the NRF is forecasting online sales to increase between 6 and 8 percent to as much as $105 billion.
In his blog on the top 10 issues the diamond industry is facing in 2015, industry consultant Ben Janowski takes an in-depth look at the new consumer.
The summer break is over, and we are facing a Fall season that does not seem to have much momentum. Last time, I wrote about retailers' issues, though there is much more one can say on that subject. Now, let's think about the consumers. Where are they? Who are they? And will they show up this season?
Business has never been more hectic at the government-run pawnshops as Brazil’s economy continues to contract this year with more financial problems forecast for 2016 as the country suffers its longest recession for 80 years. The pawnshops are operated exclusively by state-owned bank Caixa Economica Federal and take mainly rare stones and jewelry. The cash given by the pawnshops is a loan carrying an interest rate of 1.9 percent a month which is by far the lowest in Brazil where credit cards charge about 13 percent a month.
The so-called 'Generation Z,' youngsters born after the millennials is becoming the next big thing for market researchers, cultural observers and trend forecasters, according to the New York Times. Born from roughly 2000 onwards, "the tweens and teens of today are primed to become the dominant youth influencers of tomorrow. Flush with billions in spending power, they promise untold riches to marketers who can find the master key to their psyche".
Upscale jeweler Tiffany & Co. has set itself a range of targets for the coming years. These include improving customer experience, increasing store space by 2-3 percent every year, mid to high single-digit sales growth, higher operating margins and doubling earnings growth over the long-term.
British company Bowers & Wilkins is using synthetic diamonds to create tweeters, saying they are ideal for producing high audio frequencies. It is the first time diamonds have been used for the purpose in a commercial car, with the speakers being created for the latest BMW 7 Series. The lab-grown stones offer the perfect combination of lightness and rigidity to help deliver crystal-clear, lifelike treble sounds that are designed to accurately reproduce audio beyond the limits of human hearing.
The Report "aims to inform a wider audience about ALROSA’s major contribution to three areas of sustainable development: economy, environment and social systems," the mining giant said.
A new study by the National Retail Federation finds that retailers lose billions of dollars to shoplifting, employee and vendor theft and administrative error – collectively known as inventory shrink. Specifically, retailers surveyed estimate that shoplifting accounted for the largest part of reported shrink in 2014 – 38%, followed by employee/internal theft (34.5%), administrative and paperwork errors (16.5%), vendor fraud or error (6.8%) and unknown loss (6.1%).
Research by the Luxury Institute Sales finds that sales associates have a big impact on wealthy shoppers' jewelry-buying decisions. It also revealed that most wealthy consumers do not buy luxury goods following research, although there are exceptions, such as men shopping for watches and women buying beauty products.
An American jewelry firm is trying out a new marketing method – letting prospective buyers try out a diamond ring for three days before deciding whether to purchase it. The company, Love Affair Diamonds, in Washington state, invites interested customers pay a refundable deposit and then ships a sample ring, or rings, for consideration.
The sample rings are set with genuine side diamonds but the center stones are not. The firm was set up by Erica Derout who, perhaps not surprisingly, previously worked in finance.
Increasing numbers of wealthy American shoppers are plumping for low-key and logo-free items. They are looking for unique, hard-to-find items rather than highly recognizable handbags from big-name brands such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Prada. And the trend toward more discreet luxury goods is also partly a result of the political debate about income inequality which is persuading some big spenders that it is distasteful "to carry a purse that practically announces its four-figure price tag."
The China crackdown shows what can occur suddenly to conspicuous consumption. Officials there no longer want to be seen wearing expensive watches or driving in flashy cars. A life of luxury will continue as usual in US and European enclaves such as Palm Beach and Monaco, but elsewhere the mood could swing.
- John Gapper, Financial Times