Strong holiday sales of “Journey” diamond pendants helped to push diamond jewelry sales up 6.1 percent in 2006.
Total U.S. retail sales for the diamond jewelry category were $35.2 billion in 2006, a $2 billion increase over 2005 sales of $33.2 billion, according to the Diamond Information Center at JWT. The increase was due to a 9.1 percent growth in average sales. The number of transactions slipped by 2.7 percent from 2005.
Journey graduated diamond jewelry grew 41 percent in just six months. This translates to over one million pieces of Journey diamond jewelry sold in the second half of 2006.
“2006 was a challenging year in which the diamond industry made great strides. Amidst a barrage of publicity, the industry seized the opportunity to tell consumers about our zero tolerance policy on conflict diamonds under the Kimberley Process and system of warranties,” says Richard Lennox, director-in-charge of the diamond marketing and advertising group at JWT. “Not only have we enticed consumers with concepts like Journey diamond jewelry, but we also illustrated the positive role the industry plays in the U.S. and in producer regions like Africa.”
Three-stone diamond jewelry was also up in 2006, with a 16 percent increase in sales over 2005. This sector now represents almost $3.7 billion in retail value. These pieces also saw a strong 14 percent increase in average price over 2005.
Sales of diamond right-hand rings were also up for the third straight year, increasing by 10 percent in 2006. In fact, although some women buy these rings for themselves, it is actually men who buy 69 percent of right-hand rings as a gift, often with significant involvement of the recipient. Christmas was a prime selling season for these rings.
Holiday sales this past season were valued at $5.5 billion, a 9 percent increase over 2005. The fourth quarter is always essential to sustain growth and this year was no exception, with one in four pieces of non-bridal diamond jewelry being acquired for the holidays. The most popular items were necklaces, which grew 19 percent over 2005, in large part due to sales of Journey pendants.