New York—Graff Diamonds may have had to postpone its $1 billion IPO in Hong Kong last month due to “adverse market conditions,” but the London-based jeweler can rest assured that America’s millionaires think it is tops among the world’s high end jewelry brands.
That’s the word from the 2012 Luxury Brand Status Index (LBSI) conducted by the Luxury Institute, which asked pentamillionaires—those affluent consumers with net worths of at least $5 million and earnings of at least $200,000 a year—to rank 22 luxury jewelry brands and 27 luxury watch brands.
Graff, known for its rare and large diamonds, scored 7.98 out of 10, giving it top marks in reputation, product materials and craftsmanship. Meanwhile U.S.-based Tiffany & Co. “sparkles above the rest in customer experience” and was cited as the most popular source of luxury jewelry purchases in the last year.
Asked which brands could command premium prices, Graff again topped the list followed by British jewelry Asprey, and Japanese-based Mikimoto. Asprey (7.82) and Mikimoto (7.77) also ranked second and third on the overall on the LBSI score.
These top ranked jewelers serve an exclusive clientele, too: “just 1% of pentamillionaires have purchased from Graff in the past 12 months, 3% have shopped Asprey, and 4% shopped Mikimoto.”
Nonetheless, Tiffany stands out as the most popular retail jeweler with 13% of this elite group making a purchase in the iconic blue box in the past year. Tiffany also scored highest among jewelry brands in two key measures of customer experience: in-store service and post-sale relationships.
In addition, Tiffany is the second most frequently named (75%) luxury jewelry brand that pentamillionaires say they are considering buying in the next 12 months.
Top Brands ‘Differentiated by Excellent Service, Customer Experience’
When asked about future purchases, a jewelry brand not usually associated with platinum, diamond and gemstone jewelry was named: Alexis Bittar, the New York-based designer whose carved Lucite designs have fans in first lady Michelle Obama and Lady Gaga.
The top scoring watch brand among the 27 luxury brands in the survey was Breguet, a Swatch Group company and leading watchmaker since 1775. Breguet scored 8.13 out of 10, ranking first in superior product design, customer service experience and brand reputation.
“Breguet is also identified by the ultra-wealthy as a brand ‘purchased by people I admire and respect,’” the report noted. “It also ranks highest as the brand wealthy consumers are most likely to purchase (75%) when buying their next luxury watch.”
Although Rolex was named as the most purchased brand (9%) in the last year, the Geneva-based watch company had an overall score of 7.96, placing it behind Patek Philippe (8.05) and Boucheron (7.99). Rolex was the best known watch brand, too, with 52% of pentamillionaires saying they are familiar with the brand.
Breguet, on the other hand, had the lowest familiarity among U.S. affluent shoppers, but the brand tied with Vacheron Constantin (both 75%) as brands these ultra-affluent shoppers are most likely to consider when buying their next watch.
“Fine materials and workmanship are absolutely essential for luxury watchmakers, but those at the top of the rankings differentiate themselves with excellent service and a superior customer experience,” noted Luxury Institute CEO Milton Pedraza. “Consistent execution on all of these criteria builds brand value.”
Survey participants reported average income of $682,000 and average net worth of $14.6 million.
About Luxury Institute
The Luxury Institute is the objective and independent global voice of the high net-worth consumer. The Institute conducts extensive and actionable research with wealthy consumers about their behaviors and attitudes on customer experience best practices. In addition, we work closely with top-tier luxury brands to successfully transform their organizational cultures into more profitable customer-centric enterprises. The Luxury Institute also operates LuxuryBoard.com, a membership-based online research portal, and the Luxury CRM Association, a membership organization dedicated to building customer-centric luxury enterprises. www.LuxuryInstitute.com