Fine jewelry is the latest industry to be disrupted by the Warby Parker/Everlane/Glossier business model.
Shopping behavior during this worldwide pandemic has been an interesting thing to observe. Obviously, categories like athleisure and household items have seen a surge in demand, but people are also evidently buying more fine jewelry than one might expect. Moda Operandi recently reported a 35% uptick in fine jewelry sales compared to the same period last year, while a number of jewelry brands have shared anecdotal evidence of sales being much stronger than anticipated in months during which tens of millions of Americans filed for unemployment.
Direct-to-consumer fine jewelry brand The Last Line told us that gift purchases increased by 35% — excluding Mother's Day and graduation — over the past couple of months, and also that its brightly-colored rainbow pieces, specifically, saw 40% sales growth.
Meanwhile, Kinn (another DTC brand focused on more minimal, everyday styles) said that "post-pandemic" sales have been higher than those during the holiday shopping season, and that it saw a 35% increase in new users on its site post-pandemic, compared to the three months prior. The brand also releases regular drops of vintage jewelry and has seen many of those pieces sell out within 48 hours, even during a pandemic.
In April, WWD also reported hearing from a number of retailers that jewelry sales had remained strong, while Bloomberg shared that "bored rich people" were shopping online for $500,000 bracelets amid the global health crisis. But why?
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The Sporty and Rich aesthetic, as one might call it — think: sweats dressed up with an expensive designer coat, handbag and fine jewelry — was gaining steam even before the coronavirus, but that's not necessarily the only reason people are shopping for jewelry in a time when we can't leave the house or socialize in person.
In its research, Moda Operandi found that fine jewelry represents an "investment" category that retains long-term value, hence why people are shopping for it even in an uncertain economy. The Last Line founder Shelley Sanders, however, suggests that shoppers may be turning to her bright, joyful designs for a mood boost.
"We've noticed an increase in our happier, brighter pieces," she says. "Rainbow styles are extremely popular as well as hearts and flowers — even more than usual."
Meanwhile, Kinn founder Jennie Yoon believes her timeless, pared back jewelry feels like a safe purchase right now. "We believe that our sales have seen a major uptick because of our classic, year round style," she says. "Consumers are seeing jewelry purchases as an investment for today and many years from now."
WWD's report suggested that consumers are connecting, now more than ever, to the sentimental, emotional nature of jewelry. Or perhaps it all traces back to Connell's chain.
Whatever the reason, it sounds like a number of fine jewelry brands — particularly those who sell directly to consumers online and are not outrageously expensive — will be equipped to weather a storm that has already decimated a number of other brands and retailers.
If you, too, are looking to add a little bling to your Zoom or dog-walking looks, want to cheer up a loved one with a nice gift or simply need the serotonin boost that comes from an exciting purchase, we've culled together some special chains, rings, earrings and more from our favorite brands in the gallery below.
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