Shoppers set to splurge on this holiday gift

A little bit of bling can go a long way.

With consumers' confidence slowly ticking higher, they're also becoming a bit more confident in splurging on big-ticket purchases this holiday.

As a result, the ultra-discretionary jewelry category is expected to see renewed interest over the next few weeks, with more consumers planning to purchase it—and hoping to receive it.

Tiffany & Co store
Scott Mlyn | CNBC

According to a survey by consulting firm Deloitte, 20 percent of consumers plan to buy jewelry this year, up from 18 percent in 2013. That's also the largest number expressing their intentions to spend on the category since 2007.

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Deloitte's results were mirrored by those of the National Retail Federation, which found in its holiday survey that about 25 percent of people have jewelry on their wish list this year, the best result since 2006.

"The rise in jewelry purchases is a great sign that the economic recovery has finally reached many households, as consumers have moved away from necessities to more emotional gift choices," said Rod Sides, retail leader for Deloitte Consulting.

According to NRF, which surveyed more than 7,500 people during the first week of October, 41.4 percent said the state of the U.S. economy would impact their holiday spending plans. While that number is still high, it's down almost 20 percent from last year, and at its lowest since the trade group first asked the question in 2009.

How Tiffany remains competitive
How Tiffany remains competitive   

Although the majority of the economy's boost has been felt by higher-income shoppers, the overall consumer base appears willing to pay a bit more for an exclusive or quality item this year, said Pam Goodfellow, principal analyst at Prosper Insights and Analytics. Prosper Insights conducted the NRF survey.

"I think there's a bit more wiggle room in budgets," she said.

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Jewelry sales in the U.S. are already off to a strong start in the second half, with both Tiffany and Signet Jewelers reporting strong third-quarter results on Tuesday. High-end jeweler Tiffany posted a same-store sales rise of 11 percent for its Americas operations during the period—its best performance in the region in three years.

The brand's gains were driven by price increases and growth in fashion jewelry, including its new Tiffany T collection that's targeted toward an affluent "self shopper," Sterne Agee analyst Ike Boruchow wrote in a note to investors. He added that "favorable macro tail winds for Tiffany's core customer contributed to the solid results."

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"We believe the luxury cycle remains robust and Tiffany continues to see strong customer response across product categories," Jefferies analyst Randal Konik wrote in a note to investors.

Rebekah Lane | Vetta | Getty Images

But the category's strength isn't tied solely to the affluent shopper. Signet, parent of the more moderately priced Kay and Jared stores, and whose acquisition of Zale was completed earlier this year, boosted its same-store sales and gross margin in the quarter.

At its Sterling unit, which includes the Kay and Jared nameplates, both the number of transactions and average transaction price were higher year over year.

"In a difficult retail environment, Signet has the tools necessary to be a significant outperformer into Q4," Sterne Agee's Boruchow said.