Rapaport Magazine


Retail Rap

By Phyllis Schiller
RAPAPORT...The 4Cs are not the only things that make a piece of diamond jewelry a sales winner. In an ongoing series, RDR explores the “3Ws” — what’s selling, what’s not and why — by going straight to the people who really know — jewelry retailers. Each month, we ask a sampling of retailers to comment on the important issues that are facing the industry today. Here is what they had to say when asked: “Was Thanksgiving weekend a success and which items sold best?”




“Traditionally, Thanksgiving is really not a strong weekend for us. The strength of our holiday business is December 15th through the 24th. But this year, it was surprisingly strong. We seemed to have started earlier than I can ever remember in terms of holiday business.

“We’re a destination store; we sell big-ticket items, typically. I don’t have enough transaction data to say such-and-such is a hot number. We always do a big sort of ring, earring, bracelet business. The necklace business is secondary to it. My biggest problem is getting enough bigger, fine merchandise. I get enough 2-carat rounds for diamond studs. It’s the 4- to 6-carat cushions and Asschers that are increasingly difficult.”




“We’re mostly custom jewelers and our Fridays and Saturdays are usually pretty hectic days, taking custom orders for Christmas. In terms of trends, I think we’re going away from white gold into more yellow gold. It’s still two to one in favor of white gold, but it was about five to one. Most of the stones I deal in are a carat and above. We do a lot of pendants.”

ROBERT ARGO, Chief financial officer



“It went very well. We were surprised. Lately we’ve seen that the day after Thanksgiving isn’t such a big deal any more, but this year it was. Everything started to explode and it’s been busy ever since. We’re ahead of last year. I would say there seems to be some tendency back to yellow gold, a little bit. I don’t know how strong it will be; we sold several yellow gold pieces.

“Engagement rings all year have been stronger than normal. I think people in the trade have talked about the little blip from the children of Baby Boomers who are now old enough to get engaged. And suddenly, we’ve got a whole bunch flooding in and I think there’s more out there. We’re seeing a little more flexibility in shape; they’re not so locked into the princess cut any more. Ovals and rounds and maybe some cushion shapes, but they’re really not big on squares and marquises still or emerald cuts. Some ask for Asschers. And they’re going for the bigger stones, but I think they have champagne taste on beer budgets; we’ve had a lot of people financing things. And we hadn’t done a lot of financing in the past few years.

“We’ve been noticing bigger diamond stud earrings and diamond circle jackets — jackets seem to be coming back a little bit. We’ve sold some diamond necklaces. It seems like there was a trend away from too much bling, in the Midwest, anyway, but it seems that people are a little more comfortable putting on the dog.”

Clayton Bromberg, President

Underwood Jewelers

Jacksonville, Florida

“Thanksgiving weekend is not really a meaningful one for us because it’s more of a department store type deal. But we’re going to end up having a record November. There isn’t one item that stands out; it’s been across the board. But we have a lot of the right lines, the right people working in our stores and they’ve all had to do their part to get the customers in.

“We have done exceptionally well with larger diamonds the past several years, but it has become a little more difficult to do as well with those. I think the pricing on larger diamonds, 3 carats and up, has gotten to the point where there is some sticker shock. We built our fall plan using some of our designer labels and more of what I’d call ‘generic’ diamond jewelry. Of course, you’re always going to sell your diamond studs and that type of thing. We’ve sold some diamond bracelets to the extent that we think they’re going to be a hotter item this Christmas, where they haven’t been some years in the past.”

Gary Littman, Co-Owner

Gary Michaels Fine Jewelry

Manalapan, New Jersey

“Thanksgiving weekend for us was surprisingly very, very good. We actually had a designer event, a David Yurman event, which for some reason did double what we typically do. I would say bigger diamonds — 2 plus carats — and more diamond watch pieces sold. And inside-out hoops are still huge.”

Ellen Haake, Co-Owner

New Star Jewelers

Joliet, Illinois

“We’ve been selling a decent amount of diamond inventory. It has not been a bad year thus far for us, however, it’s really too early for us. Thanksgiving is more for the big box stores. We’re still very strong into branding. A carat and above has been very strong but people are very much into branding, whether it’s Roberto Coin or Simon G or Martin Flyer. It’s too early to really tell how Christmas is but the news media has to back off and let people do their thing. Hearing about gloom and doom only makes them not want to spend.”

Susan Harrison, President

Jewelry Emporium

Fort Collins, Colorado

“We’re not a discounter and in our neck of the woods, it [Thanksgiving weekend] tends to be pretty sleepy for us. I did make up little diamond ear studs, 14 point total weight, SI1, well-cut, H color. I advertised them and I actually got a reaction. I’ve been in this business since 1979 and the store’s been in Fort Collins since 1978. No matter what I tried, the two days after Thanksgiving never worked and this year, I actually got people calling and coming in. I was amazed. So that was my hot item.

“I am a designer store so diamond is always strong — diamond earrings and diamond pendants. Hopefully diamond bracelets, because I did stock up on them. And I’m really heavy in color — we do very well with color pendants and earrings. Blue topaz is popular in our area and citrine and peridot. We have a line from Alex Sepkus that is hot, hot, hot, and another line called Me&Ro. We’re a very casual area. I expect those two lines to be the hot sellers for my store.”

Steven Goldfarb, President

Alvin Goldfarb Jeweler

Seattle, Washington

“We had a good weekend, but we have never been a big Black Friday store. I was actually surprised at how much traffic we had. We’ve been so strong in watches lately and a lot with watches with diamonds in them. We always do well with anything with diamonds for women, including Rolex and Cartier, but men’s watches with diamond bezels and diamond dials — particularly Rolex and Breitling — were also selling.”

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - December 2007. To subscribe click here.

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