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Friday, February 11, 2011

Report: 2010 Jewelry Sales Up 7.7%


Led by strong consumer demand during the holiday season, U.S. jewelry sales rose 7.7 percent, to a record $63.4 billion, in 2010, according to a report from the Jewelers Board of Trade, based on U.S. Department of Commerce data. The uptick follows two consecutive years of declines, dropping 2.7 percent in 2009 and 2.4 percent in 2008, as Americans cut back on discretionary spending, the Chicago Tribune reports.

With the price of gold is trading at record prices, jewelers have come up with creative designs aimed at keeping price tags down. Designers, as reported on JNN, are fashioning smaller, lighter pieces that require less solid gold, relying on twists, lace designs and cutouts. 

“I find that people continue to want to wear gold but we just need to adjust the designs to the new circumstances," Pittsford, N.Y.-based goldsmith and jewelry artist, Barbara Heinrich recently told JNN. For example, 18k cuff bracelets (pictured left) are lighter than they have been in the past but because of the superior fabrication process, they remain sturdy. 


One company, Fope, developed a process that combines silver with palladium for a new line of luxury bangles (pictued left).

The luxury segment has reported the strongest sales by far. For example, Tiffany, in January raised its profit forecast for the year, adding it will accelerate store openings in 2011.

Meanwhile, Signet Jewelers and Zale Corp., which own mid-tier jewelry chain, reported strong sales for the November-December holiday period.

Meanwhile, both J.C. Penney Co. and Sears Holdings Corp. debuted new bridal jewelry collections at their department stores this month in hopes of capturing sales leading up to Valentine's Day, the second-biggest holiday in the jewelry trade, the newspaper reports.

Jewelry retailers, however, are not out of the woods, the newspaper reports. Jewelry sales spiked 10.4 percent in December from the same period a year ago, but then declined 3.3 percent in January, according to MasterCard Advisors' Spending Pulse, an indicator based on MasterCard payments coupled with estimates for other payment forms, including cash and checks.

J.P. Morgan analyst Brian Tunick estimated in a Feb. 1 report that more than 2,750 jewelry stores have shuttered since the recession and predicts that closings will continue, the newspaper reports.

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