By Sherry Smith
sherry@edgeretailacademy.com
Sherry Smith is director of business development for data and consulting company The Edge Retail Academy. She can be reached at sherry@edgeretailacademy.com.
In more normal times, Valentine’s Day offers those who celebrate many possibilities to do so, such as candlelight dinners, special shows, weekends away, and other romantic options.

Lest anyone needs reminding, we are not living in normal times and many of those options were not available this year.

According to marketing company Statista, the most popular Valentine’s Day option last year was dinner out. Jewelry finished a distant 11th as the go-to gift option.

How things have changed in 2021.

According to Statista, jewelry ranked as the No. 3 option for Valentine’s Day gifting this year. For context, candy and flowers were the top two choices.

Driven by that consumer demand, fine jewelry sales for the period Feb. 1–14, 2021 showed an impressive 15 percent increase versus the previous year.

While unit sales continued their downward trend, average ticket prices showed a robust 20 percent increase versus same period in 2020.

The diamond categories continued to lead with a 17 percent increase in sales, a 16 percent increase in number of units sold, and a 2.3 percent increase in average retail sales for the period through Feb. 14.


The colored stone and pearl categories were also up in all key performance indicators.

Preceding the first two weeks of February was a strong January that showed an 11 percent increase in gross sales versus January of 2020.

On the strength of an outstanding year in 2020, where retailers recovered to within 0.05 percent of their 2019 results, the January and mid-month February performance suggest a near-term positive continuation for retail jewelers.

That’s an impressive development given the challenges retailers continue to grapple with, including lockdowns, shortened hours and, in many cases, furloughs and/or layoffs of personnel.

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Although fewer units were sold in 2020 (down 15 percent compared to 2019), the average retail ticket grew a whopping 17 percent on the back of the shift to diamond jewelry and loose diamonds, with gross margins improving by 1 percent.

Loose diamonds led the charge with 14 percent of annual sales for 2020, and they showed improvement in all key performance indicators.

Diamond engagement rings and diamond wedding bands were the next two best-performing categories for 2020, with increases of 2.3 percent and 3.3 percent in gross sales, respectively.

Overall, the diamond categories performed very well, representing about 47 percent of annual sales (this number doesn’t include diamond categories processed through point of sale as custom) in 2020, with an overall increase of 2.4 percent in gross sales.

It also was one of the few categories to show solid growth in number of units sold.

Timepieces also held their own during the pandemic, representing 16 percent of total annual sales for independent stores. Overall, the category was positive to 2020 with 1.5 percent sales growth.

Despite a 16 percent decline in number of units sold, watches enjoyed a double-digit increase in average retail sale at 21 percent, growing from $2,900 to $3,509. There was also an increase of 2.4 percent in gross margin for the category versus previous year.

Services, on the other hand, were a mixed bag in 2020.

They represented 12.2 percent of annual gross sales, but repairs declined in all key performance indicators save one, average retail sale, and that increase was only $7 per item.

This was no doubt impacted by the significant decline in foot traffic and a willingness to hold off on non-essential trips to the stores.

Custom jewelry grew in all key performance indicators, except one.

The category saw a 3.2 percent increase in gross sales, a very small increase in gross margin and a whopping 11 percent increase in average retail sale, an improvement of $176 per item.

Number of units sold declined 7 percent.

All in all, 2020 was a stellar year for independent jewelers, and 2021 is off to a strong start.

As a wise man once said, let’s make hay while the sun shines.

Sherry Smith is director of business development for data and consulting company The Edge Retail Academy. In her role, Smith works with wholesalers, brands and retail stores on business mentoring, and data analysis and aggregation. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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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.