Rapaport Magazine

What Diamonds Are the Hot Sellers This Holiday?

Retail Rap

By Phyllis Schiller
RAPAPORT... The 4Cs are not the only things that make a piece of diamond jewelry a sales winner. In an ongoing series, RDR explores the “3Ws” — what’s selling, what’s not and why — by going straight to the people who really know — jewelry retailers. Each month, we ask a sampling of retailers to comment on the important issues that are facing the industry today. Here is what they had to say when asked at press time: How are diamonds selling this holiday season and has the movie “Blood Diamond” been a factor?

Mark Hayden, Owner, Hayden Jewelers, Liverpool, Ney York: 
“I don’t think the “Blood Diamond” movie is doing anything to us; but we definitely only buy straight stones from good dealers. I haven’t had one customer come in and ask about it.

“Sales right now are looking good. I think the Journey collection is very hot and the circle collection from last year is still very hot. And also pink stones, pink sapphires.

Christmas diamonds, the Journey pieces, circles, that is really our Christmas business.”

Stewart Brandt, Owner, H. Brandt Jewelers, Natick, Massachusetts:
“So far, we’ve had no discussion on blood diamonds at all, interestingly enough. No discussion whatsoever.

“Journey is doing pretty good. I went pretty deep in the Journey jewelry and have a half-dozen styles. So far the straight-line-style pendant is doing well.
“In terms of the season, I’m still waiting for sales to happen. Every year it gets later and later and later and later — every year the number of ‘laters’ goes up.”

Clayton Bromberg, President, Underwood Jewelers, Jacksonville, Florida:
“The ones talking about the movie are mainly us. We had a couple of customers come in and ask about it, but we’ve been very proactive; our people have a good counter knowledge to talk about it. In fact, we even ran a radio commercial that explained what blood diamonds, i.e., conflict diamonds, are, and what a customer needs to be aware of. But the scare appears to be over. There’s not been a negative reaction. In fact, I think it might be a positive reaction because it put diamonds, from a publicity standpoint, in people’s minds. And it didn’t have the negative connotations; at least we haven’t experienced that.

“It’s too early to say what’s going to be the hot diamond item because men don’t start shopping until late. As far as our season goes, we had a record November and we’re experiencing the same type of sales in early December. The past several years, the number-one selling item has been diamond ear studs and, with our “Grow a Diamond” program that we run, I expect that to be another huge item. The sizes continue to get larger. We think that will be our biggest single item in units that we sell this Christmas season.”

Kelly Newton, Owner, Newton's Jewelers, Fort Smith, Arkansas:
“Not one single person has mentioned the “Blood Diamond” movie to us or conflict diamonds — before the movie or since it started. I anticipate someone asking. We have prepared ourselves. But I think if we just drop this ball, it will go away.

“Business is extremely good; we’re pleased. But we have a long way to go. We carry Lazare Kaplan and have for years. And we’re selling the living soup out of their diamonds. Diamond engagement rings and studs are selling extremely well. Those are our two best sellers in diamonds. We have a few of the Journey pieces this year, because they’re new. We’re pretty progressive with inventory. That’s the only thing outside of our normal inventory. We’ve had some sales with it, but the three-stone jewelry is still selling circles around it.”

Darci Aselage, Vice President/Co-Owner, Harris Jeweler, Troy, Ohio:
“In terms of the movie, there has not been one client [who mentioned it]. We have a meeting every day with our staff and we have not heard that one person has come in yet. As far as what we’re selling in terms of product, I’m mostly selling Journey jewelry and three-stone and circles are still big for me. In Journey, we have a pendant from Dangler Studios that is from the Invincible collection and we have exclusivity on that. We have a TV commercial running with it and, for us and the small metropolitan area we’re in, that’s pretty good.
“This holiday season, in general, we are 15 percent down from last year. One reason might be the weather. It’s been 55 degrees here and I don’t know if people are really in the Christmas mood to think about buying yet. Sometimes, when there’s snow out, it makes it a little bit better that way. We don’t have any concerns. We’re pretty confident we’re going to reach our goals. We have things pending and we’re working our client books. When you get to the last ten days or even the last five days before Christmas, that’s when it happens.”

Linda Abell, Vice President, Sarah Leonard Fine Jewelers, West Los Angeles, California: 
“The movie itself has not affected our sales. It has definitely, finally, hyped the awareness of the public so people are asking about it. However, once they understand the situation, they’re perfectly accepting and are continuing to buy diamonds. With all the other publicity, the public did not pay attention. We might have had two comments in the past six months; now, almost everybody is asking about it. But they’re accepting the answer about the Kimberley Process and about how we buy our diamonds. It doesn’t seem to be affecting sales in the least.

“We have been busier earlier this December than in the past. It seems that the past several years, the last week before Christmas has been the big crunch. But this year, we seem to have been busy immediately, from the week after Thanksgiving.

“In terms of what’s selling, people certainly know the term Journey pieces now. There’s enough advertising so they’re aware of it and asking about it and recognizing that pieces are part of it. We’re still selling a lot of three-stone pieces. Engagement rings are always big at this time of the year — actually, any diamond piece. Everybody’s still more into diamonds than they are into color. And people are more aware of colored diamonds than they used to be, also — more yellow, because of the price.”

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - January 2007. To subscribe click here.

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