By Lenore Fedow
Yancy Weinrich, senior vice president of JCK organizer Reed Exhibitions, delivered the results of the second annual “JCK State of the Jewelry Industry Report” Saturday morning at the show.
Las Vegas—A strong majority of jewelers are feeling good about the year ahead, according to the second annual “JCK State of the Jewelry Industry Report.”

The JCK Jewelry Industry Confidence Index, a numerical reflection of industry sentiment, is at 86, meaning that 86 percent of respondents said they were optimistic about business for the next 12 months.

That is down slightly compared with 88 percent last year.

Yancy Weinrich, senior vice president of JCK organizer Reed Exhibitions who oversees the JCK and Luxury shows, shared the research at a session held Saturday morning in Las Vegas.

JCK partnered with research firm MRI-Simmons to conduct the survey, asking jewelry industry professionals to pinpoint challenges and track trends in order to gain insight on the future of the industry.

The most commonly identified challenge was online competition (67 percent) followed by the overall economic climate (56 percent), lack of general consumer demand (50 percent), and lack of millennial demand (40 percent).

Competing with Online Players
When asked how they planned to tackle the problem of online competition, the greatest percentage of respondents said they would build connections via social media (17 percent).

The survey found that 96 percent of respondents use social media marketing, with 89 percent stating social media will play a greater role in their marketing in 2019.

About 72 percent of those surveyed forecast that social media marketing would be the most successful business practice in 2019.

Facebook and Instagram were the most popular for customer engagement, tied at 74 percent, with Pinterest (24 percent) in the next slot, followed by Twitter (16 percent) and LinkedIn (11 percent).

Social media was the most popular advertising platform among respondents, though 61 percent of survey-takers said they also use other forms of online advertising, including: paid search (64 percent), online display ads (57 percent), digital ad networks (50 percent), and native or content-based ads (33 percent).

Around 37 percent of respondents said they would reach out to social influencers to boost their brand.
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Other answers to the question of how to combat online competition included trying non-traditional advertising (13 percent), improving the in-store buying experience (13 percent) or changing up inventory buying habits (12 percent).

Only 3 percent of respondents said they would invest in new technology to combat online competition.

Managing Inventory
Survey-takers were asked about how they manage their stock, and the survey showed that 65 percent of businesses use an inventory management system for both tracking (60 percent) and forecasting (39 percent).

A majority of respondents (59 percent) did not use a Customer Relations Management (CRM) system.

Of the 41 percent that did use a CRM system, they said it improved sales (57 percent) and increased profits and revenue (49 percent).

Lab-Grown Diamonds
The survey also asked about lab-grown diamonds, a polarizing, hot topic throughout the industry, to get a sense of consumer views.

Lab-grown diamonds topped the list of types of jewelry that produced the most consumer concerns (61 percent) followed closely by “conflict” diamonds (60 percent) and responsibly sourced jewels (37 percent).

Affordability topped the list of reasons customers were interested in lab-grown diamonds (86 percent) followed by “eco-friendly” positioning (36 percent), “conflict-free” positioning (33 percent), and an interest in the technology behind the stones (15 percent).

The top reason customers were not interested in lab-grown diamonds was that natural stones were considered more “real” (47 percent), with a preference for natural diamonds (46 percent) coming in at a close second, followed by concerns that lab-grown diamonds will not hold their value (39 percent) and the price not being low enough (17 percent).

The trend of women buying their own jewelry also is expected to continue, with 67 percent of women buying jewelry for themselves spending more than $500. The average price point is $1,240.

Other trends expected to stay strong include stacked rings and heart-themed jewels while purple jewels and beads are on the way out, according to the survey.

Custom pieces and colored stones buoyed 2017-2018 sales, while sales of charms were on the decline.

For 2018-2019, colored gemstones and fashion and bridge jewelry are anticipated to be top sellers, while watches could be on the decline.

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