Amid the all-important US Holiday season, Solitaire International speaks to Sanjay Shah, Partner, KBS Group, and Convener, Diamond Panel, GJEPC, to deconstruct demand from the US market, which has kept factories in India humming from Q4 2020 through the end of 2021.
What is your outlook for diamond- and gemstone-studded jewellery sales in the US this year?
2020 has been a banner year for the entire trade. Everyone from the miners to retail has had an exceptional 15 months. From a doomsday scenario to almost a Hollywood/Bollywood multi-continent mega-hit!
Are there any particular categories or price-points that have done well or will be at least sustainable over the next six months?
Price points across the board have done well. From the promotional to the mid, and in particular the better end has performed well … diamond fashion, bridal, anniversary, better gemstones and lab-grown.
Lab-grown continues its upward trajectory and it shows no signs of slowing down. This growth has not come, so far, at the expense of the natural diamond category which has also shown continuing consumer confidence and increasing in real value.
Are there any regions in the US market that are performing better than others?
All the regions have done well. With the rebound in oil prices, real estate, and commodity prices in general, every geography has been strong.
Any particular materials that are doing well there?
We do see a resurgence in yellow gold. Diamonds continue to be stellar.
What is jewellery set with the most – diamonds, coloured gemstones, the ‘Big Three’ of emeralds, rubies, and sapphires, the ‘semi-precious’ kind, or any other?
Diamonds continue to be in the spotlight. In gemstones, it is sapphire and emerald. Retailers are shying away from ruby due to the Burmese issue.
How is the US bridal jewellery segment performing?
Bridal continues its strong velocity and in the next two years, this category will continue its forward momentum.
What are the popular diamond categories (colour, cut, clarity, carat) for engagement and wedding rings?
Rounds continue to be the evergreen choice, but fancies are also in vogue. Pear shape, ovals and emeralds in fancy cuts are doing well.
Are brides opting for centre stones other than diamonds?
Diamonds continue to be a girl’s best friend!
What are the most favoured price points through 2021?
Depending on the retailer type and category and more importantly the diamond quality, price points differ accordingly.
What are the occasions driving jewellery demand – serious relationship-type jewellery or casual, more self-purchase kind?
Marriages continue to drive demand as well as gifting. An emerging segment is the men’s jewellery section that shows no signs of slowing down – Hip-Hop jewellery, in particular. The colour stone category has also done well both in precious and semi-precious categories.
Anything else that you may wish to add.
On a cautionary note – the sustained diamond price increases are now a cause of concern. The higher input costs will have to be passed on to the retailer and, in turn, the consumer. Traditionally with higher retail costs, the self-purchase category slows down. Moreover, with the Federal stimulus tapering off and a resurgent Covid, the industry needs to maintain its self-discipline of the last two years and be prepared for any eventuality.
We all, as trade, have a lot to be grateful about and I would like to thank our frontline – our craftsmen in the diamond as well as jewellery segments, who risked everything to make sure we, the Indian diamond and jewellery industry, came through for our customers.