Women, Jewelry and History
In 1986, the US International Trade Commission reported (at the request of the Senate Finance Committee), that men bought jewelry as gifts for women, “Jewelry has traditionally been considered a gift item and most purchases were for that purpose.”
In the decade between 1960-1970 female “self-purchase” was insignificant. The reasons are obvious…with only a small number of women in the workforce they had limited purchasing power for costly items. The unimportant woman-to-woman purchasing was usually made by a mother buying a gift for her daughter or between a grandmother and granddaughter.
For decades the industry looked at women as “secondary influencers”; however, finally, women have become the “target market.” The industry today looks and behaves differently and the marketing terms used to describe this female consumer include “self-purchasing woman” (the woman who buys jewelry for herself), and “just because purchase” (a casual buy in which the jewelry doesn’t mark a special occasion).
All women are buying more jewelry for themselves, and, according to Sarah Tanner at Lyst (fashion research platform), the percentage of women (compared to men), who purchase women’s jewelry increased 14 percent from 2016 to 2017.
Empowered to Buy
Officially termed “female self-purchase,” millennials and other women jewelry consumers, when approached appropriately, are likely to bring profitability to the jewelers’ bottom line. The DeBeer Group identified, “the self-purchase trend” is “…one of the clearest opportunities for future growth” (2016 Diamond Insight Report). Chavie Lieber (2017) finds that attracting female self-purchasers was one major cornerstone of the international heritage jeweler’s upcoming strategy.
In the 21st century more women are working, earning more money, developing career paths, are staying single for longer periods of time, having children later, and therefore have more discretionary income available for themselves…and they are using the money to buy jewelry.
Lyst research finds that women make 78 percent of their own jewelry purchases; however, they are likely to spend less on individual pieces than men – but – they are buying up to three times more jewelry. In previous years, male shoppers spent an average of $327 per necklace, while women generally spent approximately $176.
Don’t Discount Millennials
In the “Diamond Insight Report”, DeBeers found that millennials spent $26 billion on diamond jewelry in 2015 and 31 percent of those purchases were pieces women bought for themselves. Women between 25-39 inspired the DeBeers copy line, “A Diamond is Forever,” and the purchases included a bridal collection and well as relationship-milestones. The women of today are not limited to buying with their “petty cash.” It is interesting to note that recently, two women purchased the Repossi White Noise Choker for $38,300.
This behavior suggests that women have incorporated jewelry shopping into their everyday shopping lives like buying shoes or clothes, regarding jewelry as an accessible and justifiable want/need.
At 24.3 million strong, Black women account for 14% of all U.S. women and 52% of all African-Americans. A recent study, “African-American Women: Our Science, Her Magic” (Nielsen 2017), determined that Black women, across generations, are more likely to shop for and purchase both fine and costume jewelry. The study determined that among African-American women, 52 percent would pay more for jewelry if it was consistent with the image they want to portray; this was 31 percent more than non-Hispanic white women.
The study also found that 16 percent of Black women were more likely than non-Hispanic white women to have purchased costume jewelry in the past 12 months and 9 percent more likely to have purchased fine jewelry than non-Hispanic white women. The fine jewelry purchased by Black women ranged between $100-$499.
Women are in motion. Whether they are jetting around the world to close corporate deals, climbing the Himalayas, or depositing and picking up the kids at day care and La Crosse, movement is part and parcel of every moment of every day. Recognizing and acknowledging this new reality, jewelry designers are incorporating this active lifestyle into their jewelry. New design features include:
- Durability. Adventure can be hard on accessories; therefore, jewelry has to be designed to last. The focus is on craftsmanship and enduring materials, ensuring the woman that the jewelry will not break or fall-off during mountain climbing, swimming or snowboarding.
- Water-friendly. Materials will not be destroyed by water, sweat, heat or icy cold.
- Adjustability. Bracelets and necklaces must be flexible and versatile– able to fit every wrist and neck, so they can be worn from breakfast at the diner to a black-tie dinner.
- Styling. The designs must be sophisticated and durable…losing a bead during board meeting is totally unacceptable
JA Jewelry Expo
The jewelry industry is alive and well. Overall US fine jewelry and watch sales in 2014 registered $78.08 billion with jewelry sales accounting for $68.8 billon.
To source some of the best domestic and international vendors, jewelry buyers attended the recent JA New York show at Javits Convention Center. Beginning over 100 years ago, JA has linked members of the jewelry industry together on the east coast for three days of buying, trend spotting, treasure hunting and business networking. The vendors run the gamut from diamonds to deco and gemstones, while the talented designers meet the needs of a wide range of consumers, from traditional to cutting edge.
Curated Jewelry for the stylish traveling executive:
Alice Sturzinger. Montclair, New Jersey
Sturzinger is a wholesale organization specializing in gifts and jewelry, selling to retailers throughout the USA. All the jewelry, baubles, and beads are handmade from Venetian Italian Murano glass by artisans who started their craft in the 12th century. Sturzinger works closely with Venetian artists ands and designers to create unique and urbane jewels for the modern executive woman. The selection includes necklaces, bracelets, rings and earrings as well as gift items. The company is the official US distributor for Antica Murrina.
Evocateur. Norwalk, Connecticut
Evocateur was started by Barbara Ross-Innamorati. With a fondness for gold leaf since childhood, Ross-Innamorati adapted this material to jewelry design and her proprietary technique created Evocateur. Her original designs are available throughout the US, Europe, Africa and Asia and perfect for the successful, energetic, executive.
Skilled artisans design and individually craft each piece, wrapping them in 22K gold and sterling silver leaf. The jewelry is gilded and burnished by hand and fabricated over a 5-day period, presenting works of art that meld art with fashion. Pieces can be made-to-order and shipped within 2-weeks.
Lika Behar Collection (a division of ISC Industries). Istanbul, Turkey
Award winning designer Lika Behar presents an amazing collection of wearable art. Drawing from ancient jewelry-making techniques prevalent in the Near East, the jewelry is made from 24K gold, sterling silver in oxidized or matte finishes, diamonds and gemstones. The collection is elegant, sophisticated and distinctive.
Behar grew up in a jewelry – focused family…her father was a jeweler and gold coin dealer in Istanbul. At the age of 12 she wandered the Grand Bazaar and considered the maze of shops as home. Currently she lives in New Jersey with an office in Manhattan.
Sane Jewelry. Orlando, Florida
Sane is a family owned/ operated enterprise and a wholesale distributor offering contemporary-designed fine jewelry. The company focuses on 18K gold bracelets, necklaces, chains, earrings, and pendants.
Women Need Their Jewels
© Dr. Elinor Garely. This copyright article, including photos, may not be reproduced without written permission from the author.