Know Everything About Gold losing ground in slow economy

Added: June 16, 2009

Stunning Circle pendant ring and necklace in 18-karat yellow gold with diamonds by Yasuko Azuma for Gold Expressions have been popular around the world and is been bought by high society people.

A full 60 percent of those participating in National Jeweler's Product Panel reported that gold jewelry accounted for 20 percent or less of their overall sales, and for many, the category isn't growing.

Karat-gold jewelry sales do not account for the bulk of most retail jewelers' annual sales, and, in a sluggish economy in which significantly higher gold prices have climbed even further in recent months, this is probably a good thing.

Fifty-three percent of panelists reported that gold jewelry sales have stayed level over the past three years, and 36 percent reported that they are decreasing. Only 11 percent of panelists reported an increase.

For those still in the gold game, it is the price of the metal that rules the day, as more consumers turn gold into cash rather than buy it, opt for less-expensive pieces or bypass gold altogether.

Sticker shock

When asked about changes in the gold jewelry market in the last five to 10 years, many panelists--not surprisingly--noted that the higher prices have customers running scared.

"Everything is so much more expensive," wrote one panelist. "Customers get sticker shock. A simple 22-karat gold bracelet is around $1,000, and our customers always buy pairs. For most people, it's too much to spend."

A number of panelists reported that customers who are buying gold are going for lighter-weight, and therefore less expensive, pieces.

"I think with gold prices being what they are, [sales of] larger gold pieces have slowed down," one panelist wrote.

Coping mechanisms

When asked how the recent fluctuations in the price of gold have altered their businesses, panelists offered a myriad of responses.

The two that seemed most common, however, were to reduce the company's open-to-buy or, simply, to do nothing and let the gold chips fall where they may.

"I am much more cautious in buying, do not inventory as much as I used to and am relying on special orders for customers," one panelist said.

Another noted, "I have not changed how I sell. Those that can buy still [do] buy. We are holding on."

To see the complete results of National Jeweler's Product Panel survey on gold jewelry, download Karat gold crawl.