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Affluents Chose Zales Over Tiffany & Co.

   Ultra-affluents, people earning $250,000 or more annually, are spending less on luxury goods — especially jewelry and watches — according to Luxury Report 2013, the latest analysis released by Unity Marketing. In fact, these high-income ultras are trading down; the report noted that they selected Zales over Tiffany & Co. as their “jeweler of choice.”
   Spending increases are coming from those making $100,000 to $249,999 per year, the group Unity labels as the HENRYs — high earnings, not rich yet — who account for 21.8 million households. The report noted that ultra-affluents are behaving more like the HENRYs and reducing their purchases on luxury items. Other findings include:
  • In 2012, only 58 percent of affluents purchased jewelry, down from 76 percent in 2011. 
  • In 2012, 71 percent purchased watches compared with 89 percent in 2011.
  • Double-digit declines in spending were also observed for clothing, fashion accessories and premium beauty products.
  • Since 2009, ultra-affluents spent 14 percent less on luxury. In 2012 their spending reached its lowest level in five years.
   “The most important shift in the economy at large is the growing importance of the affluent in driving the recovery,” said Pam Danziger, the president of Unity Marketing.
   Affluents will continue to be strategic in their purchasing power by making tradeoffs that will maximize the luxury return on their investment this year. “They are also indulging in more of what I call ‘premium’ class goods and services — below luxury, but better than mass,” Danziger concluded.

PGI, Colin Cowie Promote Platinum
   Platinum Guild International USA (PGI-USA) is partnering with Colin Cowie, a wedding and event planner, to promote the enduring qualities of platinum jewelry as they relate to bridal jewelry. As part of the program, Cowie will participate in a range of activities, including a curated gallery of handpicked platinum jewelry designs, social media engagement and branded event appearances.
   A television personality, Cowie will offer commentary on celebrity and everyday bridal style and show how brides can get the platinum rings of their dreams, while respecting their budget.

Ben Bridge Launches Ikuma Bridal
   Ben Bridge Jeweler introduced a new bridal collection under its Ikuma brand, building on the retailer’s ethically sourced diamond marketing campaign. Ikuma diamonds originate from the Diavik diamond mine in Canada and were named after the Inuit word for fire, a stark contrast to northern Canada’s frozen landscape. The diamonds are certified by the American Gem Society (AGS) Laboratory.
   The retailer stated that Ikuma Canadian diamond engagement rings and wedding bands are designed to meet the needs of socially conscious brides and grooms. The collection offers a wide range of diamond shapes, designs and price points. To generate excitement for the brand, Ben Bridge is also running a $100,000 “Wedding of the Century” sweepstakes, which includes a 2-carat Ikuma diamond engagement ring as part of the grand prize.
   In other company news, Ben Bridge and CIRCA announced their exclusive partnership to offer CIRCA’s jewelry buying expertise and services to its clients at 64 Ben Bridge locations in the U.S. Through CIRCA’s authorized purchasing agent program, Ben Bridge clients can access CIRCA’s expertise through instore buying events and the year-round mail-in program.
   This year, CIRCA plans to host more than ten instore buying events at Ben Bridge locations where buyers meet with shoppers to evaluate clients’ jewelry and present an offer and payment or an incentive store credit. According to Ben Bridge, this new partnership enables them to expand their services to their clients who may want to sell jewelry they no longer wear in order to buy something new.

IDD Partners with Harout Aghjayan
   IDD of New York, a diamond jewelry manufacturer, announced its partnership with bridal jewelry designer Harout Aghjayan to offer the HaroutR bridal collection exclusively to independent retailers.
   The collection utilizes an interchangeable head concept, allowing for a designer style offering the flexibility of customization.

H. Stern Opens Store in London
   H.Stern opened its first stand-alone jewelry boutique in the U.K. on Sloane Street in London. The boutique showcases the brand’s signature jewelry collections such as Stars, Fluid Gold, Moonlight and Copernicus.
   According to the company, the décor includes images that highlight the collections’ creation processes, workshops and creative partnerships. H.Stern is also located at Harrods in London.

Jewelers unBLOCKed Offers New Theft Policy
   Jewelers unBLOCKed,™ a program offered through CED 1976 LLC and the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, has created an Employee Dishonesty Program for their current and prospective policy holders. The new crime policy provides employers with insurance coverage for theft and forgery by employees of money, securities, money orders and stock, including jewelry, precious stones and precious metals. In addition, Jewelers unBLOCKed will offer policyholders strategic advice about loss prevention.
   Jewelers unBLOCKed is a proprietary insurance portfolio providing solutions to the jewelry industry and the private collector. CED 1976 LLC, a New Jersey-based certified Women Business Enterprise, is a general underwriter of jewelers block and other insurance programs.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - May 2013. To subscribe click here.

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