New data shows that jewelry has been one of the hardest-hit retail industries during the pandemic.
Other reports indicate that website traffic to online jewelry retailers has steadily decreased since February 25.
However, select retailers within this vertical (most outside the fine jewelry market segment) are seeing remarkable sales growth in recent months.
The direct-to-consumer (DTC) market for jewelry appears to be thriving.
Take Gorjana, for example. They’re currently experiencing 300% growth year-to-date, with 400% monthly growth between April and May.
What’s more: the brand had a record-breaking day on May 4, reporting the highest single day of online sales in the company’s history.
In their case, the sudden shift caused by COVID-19 has actually been helpful: With their wholesale business coming to a halt and with partners cancelling spring and summer orders, Gorjana had no choice but to finally prioritize its DTC business.
“COVID-19 has been the great equalizer,” said Jason Griffin Reidel, the brand’s co-founder. “With 16 of our retail stores closed and two more with delayed openings, that meant for the past two months we had to become an e-commerce-only company.”
As such, the brand had to focus its attention on a single channel with more intentional messaging, product drops, and advertising spend—all while working with condensed teams.
“The growth is attributed to not having our energies spread across other parts of the business,” Reidel said.
“Running a DTC channel and also running a wholesale channel is like running two completely separate businesses, so to be able to only focus on one—the one you have direct control over—was powerful.”
Kendra Scott is another jewelry brand seeing record eCommerce sales in recent weeks.
Pivoting to accommodate the shift to online shopping, the brand started offering virtual try-ons leveraging augmented reality and machine learning technology, created a “Ship-from Store program” to supplement its Austin distribution center, and implemented a curbside pick-up program.
As a result, so far the brand has had several days where online sales have outperformed historical sales performance within their physical retail stores.
The examples continue, further illustrating that these brands aren’t exceptions or outliers—but that there’s a larger trend here.
Jewelry brands like Luv AJ saw sales jump 250% percent for items in the $40-60 range during mid-March through the end of May. Bagatiba’s sales are up 63% in April and May compared to January-March of 2020. Kinn’s month-over-month sales jumped 30% in May.
So what’s driving this uptick in jewelry purchases during a worldwide crisis?
If you ask strategy executive Ana Andjelic, it’s in part because jewelry is a non-fashion purchase, which means it’s more or less trend-resistant.
“Buying a piece of jewelry is a time-proof purchase that won’t decrease in value, and because this market is more fragmented today, it’s no longer massive investment—one can find a ring or a bracelet for the price of a pair of jeans (and would certainly wear it more than jeans at the moment.)”
She also went on to say that the recent uptick may be due in part to the emotions behind jewelry purchases, explaining that consumers sometimes buy jewelry for themselves either as a reward or a “pick-me-up.”
“I can see a lot of consumers oscillating between these two moods right now,” she said.
Jewelry industry expert Liz Kantner added that strategic use of social media is another contributing factor for sales growth within this vertical right now.
Consulting with various independent jewelry brands, she’s noticed that those who’ve been sharing video content on social platforms to give context behind their products and designs are forging deeper connections with customers—and ultimately driving more sales.
As a whole, this growth trend in the jewelry vertical seems to align with a larger shift unfolding in real time: Retailers selling non-essentials are seeing record-breaking online sales.