New York—Each year during the holiday season, National Jeweler checks in with jewelers across the country to see how business is going.

We spoke with 10 jewelers just after Thanksgiving, asking them how the first major shopping weekend of the holidays had gone, as well as their predictions for the rest of the year.

Now, a few more weeks in the shopping season have passed and we’re in the middle of what is generally one of the most important weeks for retailers, leading up to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

National Jeweler caught up with store owners in five regions of the country—the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, South Central and West—about how they’ve fared so far during the season, what they’ve been selling and their expectations for the big weekend to come.

Here’s what they had to say.

Northeast

For Devon Fine Jewelry in Wyckoff, New Jersey, things were slower earlier in the year but have picked up as the holiday season has progressed, with foot traffic regularly increasing.

Nancy Schuring said they “consider it very successful so far.”

She told National Jeweler they’ve been selling many large diamond goods, like two 30-inch diamond necklaces, large diamond eternity bands and large studs, and notes there seems to be an interest in statement diamond pieces, with several customers trading up from smaller items.  

“I would cautiously call it a diamond Christmas,” Schuring said.

They’re also selling large color rings with gemstones like tanzanite and tourmaline, and have even sold several pieces from a display of Paraiba tourmaline.

So far this holiday season, Devon has offered a few promotions to customers.

In November, the store sent out a mailing containing three coupon discounts. One was 30 percent off one in-stock item, with some exclusions, and Schuring said it was very popular and helped them move a lot of pieces.

Meanwhile, for Greenwich St. Jewelers in New York City, sales are up 15 percent over last year, Christina Gandia-Gambale said, adding that they’re selling higher ticket items.

She said foot traffic was heaviest so far this season on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week and added that the period immediately before Christmas is always their busiest week of the year.

Dec. 20 to 22 are targeted to be their top selling days.

“I would cautiously call it a diamond Christmas,” – Nancy Schuring, Devon Fine Jewelry

Consumers come to Greenwich St. Jewelers for their unique pieces, and Gandia-Gambale said they’ve seen success getting people into the store this season with highly personalized customer service, creating targeted gift suggestions for their top clients.

Southeast

Down in North Carolina, foot traffic for Royal Diadem Jewelers in Greensboro is down when compared with last year, which Sterling VanDerwerker said might have something to do with “the dampening effect of the November mid-term elections.”

He added that it took a while for custom design projects to get back in line with last year’s “excellent” season.

And yet, foot traffic following Thanksgiving has been good for the store and they are converting more sales as they work to sell off poor performing items and adopt a new pricing strategy that will help them turn over slow sellers better than they have in the past, VanDerwerker said.

Since the store is not fashion oriented, Royal Diadem Jewelers still sees a strong demand for basic jewelry items like diamond earrings, pendants and two-tone gold fashion jewelry, he said.

They also have found success with their customer referral program, in which they issue plastic cards that customers can hand out to their friends. That referring customer gets a $25 credit to their referral account toward a purchase or service when a friend brings in the card.  

“Customers love telling others where they receive good value and service,” he said.

Though the longer holiday season this year has reconfigured the shopping calendar a bit, VanDerwerker said they are anticipating strong traffic toward the middle and end of this week as that likely will mark the start of vacations and time off.

And since they’re closed on Sunday, he expects strong Saturday traffic, with the retailer extending hours to help serve customers. VanDerwerker is hoping for a strong Christmas Eve as well.

“Our custom design stations are really busy, and customers love being a part of a meaningful gift of fine jewelry in which they participate in design and presentation to their loved ones.”

Rhett Ramsay Outten of Croghan’s Jewel Box in Charleston, South Carolina said things are going “very well” so far this season—foot traffic is high and sales are up when compared with last year.

For Croghan’s, holiday shopping started early this year. Outten said crowds have been big and steady since the week of Thanksgiving, with Black Friday and the day after it being “remarkably busier” than in previous years, especially given that they didn’t run any promotions. Weekends, too, have been very busy for the retailer.

When it comes to what they’re selling, some items were fairly standard for a jeweler this time of year—engagement rings, estate jewelry and stacks of rings and bangles—but Outten also said pearls seem to be popular this year.

And though they advertise in the local newspaper to appeal to certain customers, social media seems to be the key for Croghan’s; Outten said customers come in with photos on their phone from Instagram and their website, ready to purchase.

And if the current trend continues, Croghan’s is shaping up to have a very merry holiday season indeed.

“We are hoping for a crescendo to end the year,” Outten said. “All indications are that it will be our best Christmas season in 100 years, but the final days are always the biggest.”

Midwest

In the Midwest region of the country, jewelers reported that big ticket items have been hot, but for varying reasons.

Jim Taylor of Akron, Ohio’s Taylor Made Jewelry said that his holiday season has been “very strong,” due in large part to the fact that several independent jewelers in the area have closed, leaving Taylor Made to acquire their customer base.

“Our best days are yet to come, historically.” – Greg Bires, Windsor Fine Jewelry

So business is up over last year, but the store is hardly passively waiting around to collect customers. It’s used a combination of radio advertising, social media and store events to draw people in.

“Engagement rings and diamond studs have been very strong sellers,” he said, noting he’s “very optimistic” to see how the last week or so leading up to Christmas goes.

In Indianapolis, Indiana, Windsor Jewelry is having a successful season thus far, also due mainly to large purchases.

“Our dollars are where they need to be,” explained owner Greg Bires, “but we have not had days where the store is full of people and we’re scrambling to make sure everyone is taken care of yet. I’m not worried, but our best days are yet to come, historically.”

Bires hasn’t witnessed the typical downtown Indianapolis holiday-time bustle yet this year and is hoping that these last days leading up to Christmas bring more foot traffic and with it customers spending in the $200 to $800 range.

He’s been selling “high-dollar fashion jewelry” featuring both colored gemstones and diamonds, diamond studs and several engagement rings, though with a lack of lower price point sales, it’s too soon to tell if the season will be up or down from last year overall.

“Big ticket items mean people feel good about the economy,” he noted.

South Central

Kelly Newton of Newton’s Jewelers in Fort Smith, Arkansas also remarked that customers seemed confident in their buying, which pleasantly surprised him, considering recent stock market drops and what seems like constant news coverage of political turmoil.

Despite this, Newton’s has been having a stellar holiday season.

“I’m not going to complain one bit,” Newton said. “(The season) started out very strong and I guess I’d say it slowed down a little bit the first of this week, but it was going so crazy I would have been shocked if it hadn’t.”

So what are they selling?

“Rolex and Rolex and Rolex,” he said, both men and women’s styles. When he spoke with National Jeweler, the retailer had sold two men’s styles and three women’s that very day.

Diamond studs, Vahan bracelets and Roberto Coin have also been top sellers at the store. 

Newton said the business will definitely be up over 2017 for the entire year’s sales, but last year’s holiday season was extremely strong, so he can’t quite predict if the 2018 holiday period will surpass it.

In El Paso, Texas, Susan Eisen said that every year the holiday shopping at her eponymous store seems to get later.

“I started 38 years ago,” she said. “When I started, in September and October people would come in and start having things made and start talking about Christmas. Every year that happens less and less and less. We’re getting ready for all of the people coming in at once.”

Eisen has been hosting “great sales” at her store, but they’re known for their custom work, and the later people place custom orders the harder it is to fulfill them in time for Christmas.

Eisen is trained as a bench jeweler but doesn’t often make jewelry these days; she has two full-time bench jewelers for that. But even she anticipates rolling up her sleeves in the pre-Christmas rush as people come in over the weekend, just to get as many predicted last minute orders fulfilled as possible. “We’ll stay until 3 a.m.,” she said.  

So far, the 2018 holiday season is up over last year due to sales of diamonds and high-end watches, and she is optimistic about the next several days, though concerned about having enough employees on hand for customers.

“Texas is diamond country,” she said. She likes to make sure that the employees who assist customers with their diamond purchases are able to spend enough time to educate them properly. 

As for the small sales that she hasn’t been seeing, Eisen theorized that they’re perhaps more concentrated online or at the mall chains that she’s seen promoting sales of 30 to 60 percent off.

West

In the West, Mariaha Rogers of Rogers & Co. Fine Jewelry and Design in Missoula, Montana, also said her business is all about custom.

“At this point, we’re still wrapping up a bunch of custom projects like engagement rings, custom Montana sapphire pieces, little stocking stuffers and things like that. Pretty much after today it will be people coming in to pick things out of the case. We have lots of colored stones, diamonds and fashion jewelry, but for the most part we have Montana sapphires.”

Overall, they’re “quite a bit ahead” in their sales over last year, and Rogers attributed that to their growing reputation. They’ve been in business for five years, though Rogers grew up working at her parents store and has had a lifetime of experience.

“We’re going to finish with our best Christmas yet.” – Mariaha Rogers, Rogers & Co. Fine Jewelry and Design

“I just feel like it’s been continual growth each year,” she said. “The locals are starting to figure out who we are.”

Rogers’ philosophy is to become a trusted friend to her customers, sticking within the confines of their budgets rather than trying to upsell or push. This integrity has led the store to “get some darn good reviews online.”

Rogers is predicting a fantastic rest of the holiday season.

“If it’s anything like last year, I know the three days before Christmas were just crazy busy so we’re hoping for that again. We’re going to finish with our best Christmas yet.”

Fountain Hills, Arizona’s Sami Fine Jewelry has likewise had “a really good season” and is ahead of last year, said owner Stephenie Bjorkman.

And unlike several other jewelers interviewed, Sami Fine Jewelry has been experiencing lots of foot traffic and lots of sales around the $2,000 mark.

“We’ve just had a lot of those every day. I think it’s more profitable when you sell those smaller items versus just a few of the big ticket items.”

Performing particularly well for the store is everything from the Gems One holiday flyer, which the store has “been selling the crap out of,” Bjorkman said. “I’ve probably replaced the Tru-Reflection earrings and pendants 15 times over the past couple of weeks. We can hardly keep it in stock. It looks bigger and flashier than what it is, versus a (traditional) $2,000 pair of studs.”

Bjorkman is predicting that the season will stay steady, continuing to perform well daily.

To keep up the good sales, her business is staying very active on social media and switching it up in terms of store events to keep customers interested and paying attention.

“This year we decided not to do (our usual) men’s night or ladies night and just had one huge open house. I think it was a good change.”


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Since 1906, National Jeweler has been the must-read news source for smart jewelry professionals--jewelry retailers, designers, buyers, manufacturers, and suppliers. From market analysis to emerging jewelry trends, we cover the important industry topics vital to the everyday success of jewelry professionals worldwide. National Jeweler delivers the most urgent jewelry news necessary for running your day-to-day jewelry business here, and via our daily e-newsletter, website and other specialty publications, such as "The State of the Majors." National Jeweler is published by Jewelers of America, the leading nonprofit jewelry association in the United States.