By Michelle Graff
These 18-karat yellow gold “Rae” studs from Jade Trau feature two oval-cut diamonds weighing 0.30 carats ($1,900). De Beers’s study shows that in the United States, earrings are second only to rings in terms of the type of jewelry women buy for themselves.
New York--Much of what’s contained in De Beers’s 2017 Diamond Insight Report was foreshadowed by company executives at the annual Forevermark breakfast held during the Las Vegas jewelry shows back in June.

There, Forevermark U.S. President Charles Stanley and Stephen Lussier, Forevermark’s London-based global CEO, shared some details about Forevermark’s plans for the fourth quarter, announcing that this year, the diamond brand’s major marketing push for the year will be women-centric.

Why? Because women today are buying more diamond jewelry for themselves as they gain power, position and money in the workforce, and they also are exerting greater influence over those pieces bought as gifts for them.

Here are seven insights from De Beers’s research about their rising purchasing power in the fine jewelry segment, who’s buying, where they’re buying and more.

1. The U.S. was the main growth market for diamond jewelry sales in 2016 and accounts for nearly half of all demand worldwide.

De Beers said consumers spent $41 billion on diamond jewelry in the U.S. last year, up from $39 billion in 2015, a 4 percent year-over-year increase. Stable macro-economics, wage growth, a strong stock market and improved consumer confidence were the reasons for the increase in demand.

Globally, demand was essentially flat in 2016, totaling $80 billion, compared with $79 billion in 2015.

2. The amount of diamond jewelry women buy for themselves is on the rise.

In 2005, self-purchased diamond jewelry (excluding any bridal jewelry) represented 23 percent of all diamond jewelry bought in the U.S. market. That number rose to 24 percent in 2011, 27 percent in 2013 and 33 percent in 2015, according to De Beers’s research.

Women’s spending power has increased, and they are buying more diamond jewelry for themselves.

3. Even when they’re not buying, they have input.

In the U.S., women influence the purchasing decision behind gifts of diamond jewelry in 42 percent of the cases.

A number of jewelers interviewed for National Jeweler’s 50 Jewelers/50 States series have made a similar observation about the bridal-buying process today, remarking on the number of couples who now come in together to pick out engagement rings.

4. Married women buy more diamond jewelry for themselves than single women.

The most popular type of jewelry they purchase is the ring, followed by earrings.

The average price of what they buy is $1,300. That is slightly less than the average price of all diamond jewelry acquired for women, including gifts, which is $1,400.

5. The factor that most often gets U.S. women buying is price.

Finding something on sale at a “very good” price motivates women in the U.S. to buy diamond jewelry more than anything else.

After price, the top motivators among U.S. women are: to treat themselves, to acquire a design that’s unique or unusual, to celebrate personal milestones and to celebrate relationship milestones, like engagements and wedding anniversaries.

6. Most of these purchases are made on impulse.

But among those for which prior research was done. 72 percent of that research took place online. Stores visits (23 percent) and magazines/advertising/celebrity endorsements (31 percent) were other avenues used for pre-purchase research.

7. The jewelry buying experience is too “serious.”

The report used information gleaned from “Female Tribes,” a rolling study conducted by J. Walter Thompson Planning Head Rachel Pashley. (JWT is the same firm that used to handle De Beers’s U.S. marketing and advertising, including the iconic “A Diamond Is Forever” campaign.)

Among Pashley’s observations: the jewelry buying experience is too “serious;” retailers need to find a way to make it fun and self-gratifying, and they should learn from the experiential approach taken by skincare companies.

“Give women permission to reward themselves,” she says. “Above all, ensure your communications embrace the possibilities, not the responsibilities, of being a woman.”

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