Japan is the world’s third largest jewelry market after the United States and China, with an estimated $9.1 billion retail market for costume/fashion jewelry in 2008, a 7.3 percent decrease from the previous year. The market had grown steadily from 1997 until 2006, but declined by 3 percent in 2007 due to the economic downturn. The key demographic for costume/fashion jewelry is female consumers, with strong preference for silver jewelry among male and young female consumers. The current Japanese jewelry market is diversified with a range of pricing and fashion options.
Imitation jewelry imports from the U.S. increased by 35 percent by value in 2006-2007, but declined by 4.1 percent in 2008, reflecting economic conditions and high price competition. Leading U.S. import products by HS classification in 2008 were: Imitation jewelry made of base metal (plated with precious metal) other than cuff-links and studs; and imitation jewelry made of at least two materials (e.g., wood and glass, bone and amber, mother-of-pearl and plastics). The U.S. has been the largest supplier of silver jewelry for many years with a 31.7 percent share in 2008. Successful U.S. jewelry brands include bridal jewelry and fashionable designers silver jewelry, which are known for their high quality and stylish designs.