While demand for essentials such as athleisure and household items have seen a surge during the pandemic, interestingly enough, demand for fine jewelry has also seen an uptick.
Fashion discovery platform Moda Operandi, for example, recently reported a 35 percent increase in fine jewelry sales along with various other jewelry brands who are experiencing stronger sales as well. There are a couple key factors that are giving jewelry brands the tailwind to perform well during the ongoing economic downturn, according to Lisa Nikfarjam, founder of jewelry brand Lisa Nik, which is based in Los Angeles and New York.
“Not everyone has been financially hurt by this,” Nikfarjam said, adding that a lot consumers are just looking for ways to support brands they’d done business with previously.
Direct-to-consumer (DTC) fine jewelry brand The Last Line also has seen an increase in sales, specifically gift purchases, which have increased by 35 percent over the past couple of months. This increase excludes Mother’s Day and graduation day related purchases.
While it may have taken some to get more comfortable with spending beyond essential items, others have been reportedly more comfortable with splurging as WWD reported strong jewelry sales from several retailers back in April. Some “bored rich people,” in fact, have been shopping online for $500,000 bracelets during the pandemic – something that came to light when live auctions were called off to limit the spread of the contagion, leaving Sotheby’s to pivot to online sales. These sales are often purchases made by the idle rich that feel stuck at home indefinitely and are becoming more comfortable with “buying things online, sight unseen,” said Catharine Becket, a specialist at Sotheby’s.
Does this confirm the idea that jewelry is an investment? Moda Operandi seems to think so as their research indicates that fine jewelry is seen as something that retains long-term value and is a major reason why people are shopping such high ticketed items even during uncertain times.
But other jewelers like Joanne Teichman, co-founder and managing director of Texas-based retailer Ylang23, believes people are shopping to simply boost their mood.
Elyse Walker, founder and chief operating officer of Elyse Walker and Towne by Elyse Walker also finds reason to believe that these splurges are emotional purchases. “Jewelry tends to be an emotional purchase. There is either a sentimental or emotional connection or simply, people want to treat themselves to something that will make them happy and to look forward to wearing,” Walker said.
Whether the purchase is emotionally driven or investment-driven, the jewelry category is seeing a promising uptick. And if this uptick continues through the pandemic, jewelry may have a shot at potentially weathering the COVID storm that has already decimated several brands and retailers worldwide.