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Articles from DIAMOND JEWELLERY (941 Articles), WATCHES (818 Articles), GOLD JEWELLERY (662 Articles)

Coleby Nicholson
Coleby Nicholson

I had a dream

The jewellery industry is lobbying the Australian government to resume collecting statistics. Coleby Nicholson recalls a dream he had a few years ago. Or was it a nightmare? 
I had a dream last night. Or was it a nightmare? I’m not sure which it was but I know it was scary enough for me to wake in a cold sweat - The morning papers reported a seven per cent drop in national jewellery retail sales on the previous quarter. 

It was the second successive slide and industry leaders were quoted as saying “the youth preferred disposable goods to quality jewellery.” Looking at the imaginary statistics, I realised that the figures would have been worse if not for a healthy increase in upmarket watches. 

As my dream continued, I found myself opening the following day’s paper to find reports of a seven percent increase in national jewellery retail sales on the previous quarter. Watch sales had declined while diamond and gold jewellery had experienced significant sales growth. 

Industry leaders were on the front foot, saying, “sales growth can be attributed to the baby boomers and the increased spending power they enjoy now their offspring have left home.”

Can you see why I’m not sure whether it was a dream or a nightmare! 

Which scenario would I prefer? The dream or the nightmare? The dream, I hear you answer. It’s a seven percent increase after all. 


Putting aside my inclination as a downside manager - I believe that bad news is more important than good news - I would be happy to have either scenario... But I can’t and that’s my REAL nightmare. 

Every day I read how new car sales are tracking, how well white goods have performed, how new home building is up (or down), alcohol consumption is up (c’mon guys this is Australia!) and condom sales are down (no comment!). 

Yes, it seems Australia even collects data on condom sales!

Newspapers are full of industry statistics but the jewellery industry has nuthin’! The Australian Bureau of Statistics used to provide some data but it was so inaccurate it wasn’t even worth looking at. It’s not the fault of the ABS, however; statistics detailing the consumption of jewellery can only come from the retailers themselves. 

Unlike other industries that have a limited number of suppliers that can provide figures at the wholesale level (cars, phones, computers, whitegoods etc), jewellery wholesale is diverse. 

Furthermore, accurate figures can’t come from the jewellery wholesale channel alone because the chains and buying groups import their own product. And therein lies much of the problem: how do we get accurate figures from fiercely competitive retailers? 

All retailers, large and small, know their own figures but they don’t know, for example, if an increase in sales is due to overall market growth or because they have captured sales from competitors. I mean, sales growth is pleasing but you like to know how it was achieved. 

Perhaps we could take a first step with Australian watch suppliers all providing their sales to an independent research body. After all, the direct importation of watches by retailers would be statistically insignificant. 

I, for one, would like to know the size of the watch market and whether consumption is increasing or decreasing. Who knows? There could well be a correlation between watch sales and condom sales ... I warned you the ‘dream’ was scary!

*First published (or dreamt!) in March 2005.

Coleby Nicholson

Former Publisher • Jeweller Magazine

Coleby Nicholson launched Jeweller in 1996 and was also publisher and managing editor from 2006 to 2019. He has covered the jewellery industry for more than 20 years and specialises in business-to-business aspects of the industry.

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