top of page

How the Impact of COVID-19 is Changing the Retail Jewelry Landscape

State of Digital Transformation Survey Report: How the Impact of COVID-19 is Changing the Retail Jewelry Landscape

by BriteCo

In October/November 2020, BriteCo conducted a survey among retail and wholesale jewelers to identify their digital practices and transformation in the wake of COVID-19. These are the results.


Why the Survey? A Message from the Sponsors

To say that our world changed in 2020 is an understatement.

Like so many other businesses, the retail jewelry industry experienced dramatic changes from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic: store closures, stepped up sanitation measures, customer Zoom calls, and more. The abrupt interruption of our face-to-face contact with customers was perhaps the most jarring and unsettling.

At the same time, there is growing recognition that the pandemic has accelerated a trend toward digital communications that has been building for many years. In 2020, we as independent retail jewelers had to reckon with managing a digital presence we may or may not have been prepared for.

To help share how our individual wholesalers and retail stores are responding, a group of leaders representing digital technology enablers — including BriteCo, GemFind, Polygon, and IGS, along with the Facebook group Jewelers Helping Jewelers and our media sponsor, Instore magazine — came together to offer participation in a survey aimed specifically at the digital transformation happening among jewelers today.

This report is based on the results of our survey. We intend that it represent a first step in an effort to provide jewelers with the resources they need to manage the changes we face, and help them succeed in finding a path that combines the best of both worlds — digital and face-to-face engagement.

We invite you learn more at


JBT President Erich Jacobs explains that, among jewelry retail stores having a rough year in 2020, “Those who were struggling had zero online presence.” They lacked both e-commerce capability and a sizable social media following.

“Everyone who was struggling had neither of those. That was the common factor.”

A coalition of leading retail jewelry providers and professional organizations has surveyed the industry landscape to get a clearer picture of how jewelers are managing the digital transformation of their sales and marketing operations, which has been accelerated by the demands of a global pandemic.

Among 450 responses, more than 200 retail jewelers from throughout the United States completed the survey. Of those respondents, 50% had a single store with an online presence (website and social media). 10% had multiple stores with online presence.

The impact of COVID-19 has made the digital transformation of retail jewelers more imperative than ever before.

By limiting face-to-face in-store visits, either through mandated closures or consumer fears, jewelers have been forced to consider their marketing spending and, in many cases, they have focused on a bigger and hopefully more effective online presence. Still other jewelers appear to be cautiously marking time, even reducing their promotional spend during the pandemic.

The stakes are high, especially as another wave of the virus appears to be impacting the industry once again.

Even as the pandemic has curtailed in-store visits, two out of three retail jewelers still rely on in-store visits as their primary sales channel. While there is surely no replacement for face-to-face contact in making a fine jewelry or watch purchase (Blue Nile, for example, is now opening its own retail locations), COVID-19 has inevitably accelerated what can only be called the digital transformation of the jewelry industry.