“I’ve never seen anything like it.”
These are just some of the sentiments we heard from fine jewelry retailers this week when we asked how things are going at the start of the holiday season. The sellers we spoke to say they’re looking forward to the season with a zeal they haven’t felt in years, and report that consumers have been spending more on luxury items all year long. If the trajectory stays the course, they note, the season could end up being one of the strongest they’ve seen in years.
For jeweler Marissa Perry, who operates the Marissa Perry Atelier in the West Village in New York City, business has been “crazy good.” She adds, “The last three months have been record-breaking.” The shop sells its own branded jewelry and its best-seller is the non-graduated Riveria diamond (tennis) necklace that boasts a $10,000 price tag.
For the holidays, Perry is also investing in tennis bracelet ($4,000 to $6,000); paperclip chains and bracelets ($200 to $1,000); tiny layering chains bracelets ($400); as well as diamond studs ($3,500 and up).
On the west coast, Meshell “Mimi” Sohl, founder and president of Mimi et Cie in Pasadena, Calif., had a record sales year in 2020 and is anticipated a repeat in 2021. She chalks up the robust sales to people reigning in their spending on experiences; the pendulum is swinging back to acquiring things.
This holiday, Sohl says she’s stocking up on higher-carat diamond jewelry (necklaces and earrings) from brands including Roberto Coin, Marco Bicego, and Mikimoto. Throughout the year, customers have been dropping between $5,000 to $13,000 on average, she reports. But she expects that average to jump to $13,000 to $20,000 during the holidays. She’s investing in white gold and platinum jewelry, based on trends she’s been seeing in fashion.
In Charlotte, N.C., Ballantyne Jewelers co-owner Madeleine Tekin has also seen customers size up their diamonds in the past year. Immediately after the COVID-19 lockdowns, she says, “people were mostly going through their jewelry collections and repurposing pieces.” Now, they’re going all out on pricey diamond chains, engagement rings, and diamond bracelets. “People were spending between $5,000 to $10,000 on diamond engagement rings,” she notes. “Now we’re seeing $20,000 to $50,000, if not more. We’ve been very blessed.” The store can custom-make engagement rings and bands, but also does well with brands Michael M. and Verragio.
Colored gemstones and whimsical one-of-a-kind pieces are other huge jewelry trends this year, as customers gravitate to feel-good and unique items. “We’ve bought a ton of colored stone merchandise,” says Adam Andrus, owner of Cincinnati-based William Effler Jewelers, in anticipation of the holidays. “We’re very optimistic.” Following the pandemic, he noticed customers were clamoring more for color: topaz, peridot, aquamarine and sapphires.
Skibell Fine Jewelry in Dallas specializes in estate jewelry, and store manager Krista Garcia says the company’s experienced a significant uptick in sales in recent months; last month’s sales were the highest in the store’s history. “Our business has really changed,” she says. “We think people will be buying their gifts this year on the Internet.”
That’s not to say that every jewelry retailer is worry-free this year. Supply chain issues, including backups at national ports, could mean a dearth of product in cases and inflation on the horizon. David Coll, owner of Montclair Jewelers in Oakland, Calif., worries these factors could lead to consumers cutting their spends on luxury items. “They might be conservative in what they purchase,” he says. As a precaution, Coll partners with brands including Stuller, Quality Gold, and Rembrandt that can drop-ship items overnight to meet the store’s demands.
Perry, too, feels a little wary: “If you would have told me last year that no one’s going to the office, no one’s going to New Year’s Eve parties and they’ll be no place to wear jewelry, but they will buy more jewelry than ever, I would have told you ‘no,’” she says. “That’s just common sense. It’s all been so bizarre.”
Top photo: Inside jewelry store Adornment + Theory (courtesy of Adornment + Theory)