Women take greater role in jewelry purchases

For years, men have been the targeted demographic for anything related to jewelry. After all, they're the primary buyers for fine jewelry. Or are they?

Women are the single most influential consumer. Heard of the right-hand ring? Self-purchasing jewelry has become such a strong category, the diamond industry created an entire campaign around it.

Waiting for a man to buy that special piece of jewelry is a thing of the past. And here's why:

o 40 percent of households with assets over $600,000 are headed by women.

o Women control 80 percent of all consumer buying - two-thirds of this country's gross domestic product.

o Women are the new entrepreneurs - companies with at least 50 percent female ownership constitute 40 percent of all companies in this country.

o 49 percent of investors in the stock market are women, and half of all women own mutual funds.

Women are intelligent, and we like to do our homework. We've read about the four C's of diamond buying (cut, color, clarity and carat), and we value the importance of working with a jeweler we can trust.

Which brings up a good point: Whom can you trust when buying fine jewelry?

Identifying a reputable jeweler is paramount. The American Gem Society is a trade association with a mission dedicated to proven ethics, knowledge and consumer protection within the jewelry industry. Only 1 in 5 jewelers meets the standards of this organization.

Washington-area jeweler and American Gem Society member Lynn Jewelers has been catering to women for more than 60 years. "Women have always known what they want in fine jewelry and more and more we see women purchasing what they want for themselves," said Scott Angle, owner of Lynn Jewelers. "They understand jewelry as an investment, but more importantly they know what they love."

So, the next time you're in the mood for some sparkle, consider your sources, but also consider doing it yourself.

Fruchtman is founder and president of Fruchtman Marketing, headquartered in Toledo, Ohio, representing independent jewelers and jewelry manufacturers throughout the United States. She is a member of the American Gem Society and is a regular contributor to industry trade magazines Instore and Professional Jeweler. You can e-mail her at ellen@fruchtman.com or visit her website, www.fruchtman.com.