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Gold prices have consumers sticking to classics

28 october 2009

Coupled with the economic downturn, pricing volatility in the gold market has leveled a hard hit on gold jewelry sales.

While 15 percent of National Jeweler's product panel members said higher gold prices have actually led to gold jewelry sales being up slightly in recent years, 23 percent said sales are down slightly, 12 percent said sales are down significantly and 50 percent said sales are flat.

As for what is selling, panelists indicated that gold chains (35 percent) topped a list of categories, edging past bracelets, earrings and rings. In terms of the precious metal itself, 14-karat gold (cited by 77 percent) is the top karatage, and white gold (54 percent) is the most-wanted hue, trailed by yellow gold (42 percent).

Marketing maneuvers

Forty-six percent of our product panelists said that designing and promoting their own custom work in advertising is their best marketing strategy for gold jewelry. Other panelists described variations of that theme, from emphasizing unique styling to promoting one's own brand and exclusive offerings. A slimmer percentage of panelists (4 percent each) said they rely on co-op advertising or World Gold Council marketing materials and ads.

Gearing up for 4Q

Keeping inventory "lean" or "flat" was a common refrain from panelists who were asked about their game plan for gold jewelry inventory in the fourth quarter. Among those keeping inventory flat, one panelist noted a strategy of "buying only the fast-selling items" and "not investing in anything new unless it has tremendous appeal with excellent price points and a non-hassle trial period." While one panelist was planning to buy "less gold and more sterling," another cited plans to keep an eye on changing customer demand, noting, "We will probably buy more gold jewelry as the customer demand increases." One longtime jeweler has made keeping a careful watch of inventory a habit. "We will keep doing what we have been doing for the last 63 years. We buy what we need and always add to our inventory," wrote the panelist.

To see the complete results of National Jeweler's Product Panel survey on gold jewelry, download Posh Price.