Regardless of a pandemic, the engagement category has remained strong as love prevails.
Six in 10 couples say that spending more time with their mates during quarantine strengthened their relationships, according to an April 2020 survey by the online wedding-planning hub, The Knot and the Lasting Marriage health app.
Of the more than 40% of 1,000 couples surveyed, who reported spending 20 hours or more a week with their partner due to social distancing and work-from-home guidelines, more than half walked away benefiting from the experience.
The engagement category has remained strong as love prevails regardless of a pandemic, describes Cora Lee Colaizzi, marketing director and senior merchandiser for Quality Gold, Fairfield, Ohio. Even with the virus closing doors during the shutdown, people were still getting engaged and married!
“This is typical when facing hard times, as people do not want to go through it alone, and if you are in a good relationship, it makes sense to take the next step,” echoes Theresa Namie, merchandise manager for Ostbye in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “To have meaning and love in our lives is so important, and this trend will continue through next year.”
In fact, a viral phenomenon sweeping social media tags #LoveIsNotCancelled, cheers Darshna Rana, senior marketing manager for A. Jaffe, New York. “It’s dedicated to those couples that are not letting COVID hinder their plans of celebrating their unions. We’ve seen a rise in bridal sales. Given the current social climate, couples are wishing to profess their love, no matter the obstacles.”
Trends playing out reveal a greater focus on the rings by the couple — more expensive and personalized, cites Valerie Fletcher, vice president of design and product development for the NYC-based manufacturer, Original Design Inc. (ODI). “A lot of supersized versions of our classic bridal styles are in demand. We’ve been selling more orders for larger centers and total carat weights, and higher quality bridals and bands.”
Severine Ferrari, editor and founder of Engagement 101, is expecting a big engagement season, and also possibly more money spent on engagement rings, as people aren’t traveling or planning big weddings, and have more budget for their rings. What do they want?
Two & Three Stone Engagement Rings offer traditional settings with a modern edge, touts The Knot, noting that it’s easy to put a custom twist on these settings by mixing up the combination of stone shapes and colors. A two-stone engagement ring, also called Toi et Moi rings (French for you and me), with two gems sitting close to each other, symbolizes two souls becoming one. While a three-stone engagement ring, aka trilogy setting historically represents friendship, love and fidelity, or, a couple’s past, present and future. “These styles reflect longevity, tradition and meaning which we are all looking for in our very different world today,” describes Namie. “We need something to ground us and tradition gives us that sense of security, and conveys a personal story.”
Fancy Shaped Diamonds, as centers and/or accents in a design allow brides to personalize a ring. Oval shapes have been especially popular choice for brides at A. Jaffe, reports Rana. “It’s not an easy cut to manufacture. Brides love the coverage you get with even the smaller carats.” Fletcher concurs, adding that ODI has received more orders for pears, with the majority in platinum. “With the rising price of gold, the retail price gap between 14K and platinum is decreasing, giving consumers more options in their price range.” Rana also sees a spike in sales, bridal and self-purchase, for diamond eternity bands with fancy shapes.
Statement Diamond Bands, the Knot predicts will be hot in 2021 no engagement ring required, citing the cool unisex vibe, and typically more affordable price tag than bridal sets. Among the standouts — bolder bands, diamond encrusted bands, and sparkly eternity rings. Fletcher and Namie also report that diamond inserts and ring enhancers are popular wedding bands. Styles like chevrons, contours and tiaras are trending, but not so much the stacking trend. “Maybe people would rather invest in one important piece right now, with the economy being so unpredictable,” suspects Fletcher. Namie notes that ring enhancers can elevate a solitaire or personalize any ring style without having to reset the diamond: “They’re flying off the shelves!”
Gem Alternatives, especially birthstones are a meaningful way for couples to personalize their designs, reports Namie. The Knot hails “Something Blue” most popular with brides today, from blue sapphire to aquamarine. Underscoring the diversity of material brides are considering, Dana Cali of Mastoloni Pearls, New York reports sales of pearl engagement rings rising. “Now that buying an engagement ring is most often something the couple does together, we’re seeing more couples exploring pearl as an alternative to diamond, whether it be for value or just to make it more personalized.”
Moreover, lab-grown diamonds continue to capture the attention of Millennial couples as a choice to mined diamonds, adds Colaizzi. “People are purchasing completed finished bridal styles made with lab-grown diamonds. Retailers are also purchasing a considerable number of loose lab grown diamonds to use in their own custom designs. Retailers would not be purchasing lab-grown stones for jewelry featuring these diamonds if consumers were not asking for it.”
Subtle Details continue to captivate couples, particularly vintage (Victorian or Art Deco) inspired designs featuring intricate details like milgrain, filigree and unique halos. “With 2020 being such a big ball of the unknown, it seems as though the angle of 2020 has awakened the gentle, somber side of us,” reflects Rana. “We’re seeing a spike in delicate designs with understated details. Namie concurs, describing romantic, organic designs among the favorites at Ostbye. Although white gold remains the favorite in these nature-inspired styles, couples often choose rose gold for its vintage appeal. The hidden halo, Rana says, is very popular with brides: “The center is the star of the show, however a halo set below it adds class and sophistication to a classic design.”
Jewelry Gifts of Love is a meaningful way to mark a couple’s journey together, as well as celebrate the relationships that are important in their story. Jewelry, like no other keepsake, is a wearable time capsule imbued with memories and emotions, connecting us to those we love. It’s not all about the engagement and wedding rings. With couples getting married on average at the age of 30, wedding ring brand Novell offers a new line of commitment jewelry, including styles that are traditional and nontraditional, mixable and matchable, gender nonspecific, scalable and stackable. Bruce Pucciarello, CEO of Novell, Rahway, New Jersey, believes jewelers will see healthy sales growth when they make jewelry desirable to more consumers. “Provide more options for how couples represent the way they say ‘I love you’.”
Pearls have a history as the quintessential wedding gem, a favorite of brides, as well as a treasured wedding gift from parent or partner to signify love. Earrings are the main category for pearls in bridal, cites Cali, from simple studs to drops and hoops, with or without diamonds, versatile pieces that can be worked into the bride’s jewelry wardrobe post wedding day. Colaizzi notes that sterling silver jewelry offers chic and affordable wedding day-wear and wedding party gifts, a category the Silver Promotion Service continues to market.