Engagements are happening and jewelers are working hard to meet the needs of the influx of new engagements.
The Hartford Courant reported in July that engagement ring sales have been up for jewelers in Connecticut, musing that a growing number of couples hunkered down in quarantine during the pandemic are getting engaged.
Jewelers told the paper that they’ve seen a noticeable spike in demand for engagement rings from mid-March through July compared with previous years, likely a microcosm of what’s happening across the country.
In fact, in the JCK State of the Jewelry Industry report for 2020, nearly a quarter of jewelers responding cited an increase in bridal sales over 2019.
“Many couples are saying: ‘Who knows when we’re going to be able to get married, or maybe we’ll just do a small civil service, but let’s get engaged,’” John Green, co-owner of Lux, Bond & Green, told the newspaper. With six retail locations in Connecticut and Massachusetts, the jeweler reported engagement ring sales up 25% over last year.
Since the virus shut down travel, socialization and recreation of all kinds for months, a lot of people have used the extra downtime to fantasize, daydream, and future-plan, which may have accelerated the number of engagements that have happened during this time, reports The Knot.
An April 2020 survey by the online wedding-planning hub and the Lasting Marriage health app found that more than 40% of couples (of 1,000 responses) reported spending 20+ hours more a week with their partner due to social distancing and work-from-home guidelines. Six in 10 couples indicated the experience strengthened their relationships.
As Severine Ferrari, editor and founder of Engagement 101, sees it people have been getting engaged as usual. Although she believes there was a boost in the spring of ‘pandemic’ proposals.
“The proposers already had rings and decided not to wait for a planned trip that would not happen,” Ferrari shares. “Men sometimes hold on to the ring for a long time before feeling ready to propose. Many decided that it was time to pop the question because hard times make people realize who and what are important in their lives.”
The engagement category has remained strong as love prevails regardless of a pandemic, concurs 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.
Karen Crowe, marketing/merchandising for Quality Gold adds: “We continued to supply bridal to our customers during the entire shutdown. Retailers got creative and found new ways to stay connected to their customers, so the bridal category might have slowed down, but it didn’t disappear. “
Engagements are happening and jewelers are working hard to meet the needs of the influx of new engagements, echoes Theresa Namie, merchandise manager for Ostbye in Minneapolis, Minnesota, noting an uptick in engagement ring sales. “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. I think this will continue through the next year. To have meaning and love in our lives is so important.”
In fact, a viral phenomenon is sweeping social media platforms titled #LoveIsNotCancelled, cited Darshna Rana, senior marketing manager for A. Jaffe, New York. “It is dedicated to those couples that are not letting COVID hinder their plans of celebrating their unions. We have seen a rise in bridal sales. Given the current social climate, couples are wishing to profess their love, no matter the obstacles.”
Valerie Fletcher, vice president of design and product development for Original Design Inc. said that while ODI is not necessarily seeing a spike in engagement ring sales, the New York manufacturer is definitely seeing more expensive and more personalized. “A lot of supersized versions of our classic bridal styles are in demand.” She wonders if we’ll have a Covid-baby boom.
Regardless of COVID, Colaizzi underscores that people continue to celebrate love, birthdays, anniversaries, accomplishments and so much more, and fine jewelry remains a meaningful, personal gift.
Connecting with Customers
Ferrari advocates jewelers offer Zoom/Skype/video consultations and presentations to their customers, if possible with a sales person that’s a millennial woman who can show the rings on.
“Have this same person take over your Insta stories and possibly plan engagement ring focused Facebook and Instagram lives,” she advises. “You can also ask some of your designers to be take-over guest on your pages or host remote virtual trunk-shows.”
Ferrari suggests jewelers offer preset engagement ring inventory, so the process is streamlined for people planning last minute. “These rings should be also available through e-com,” she adds. “If you don’t have them in inventory, consider more alternative in-store and virtual pop-ups with designers.”
Remember to use inclusive language and visuals to attract and include everybody, Ferrari underscores. “Same sex couples, gender equality, race inclusions should always be present in your staff’s mind.”
Ferrari is expecting a big engagement season, and also possibly more money spent on the engagement ring, as people aren’t traveling or planning big weddings, and have more budget for their rings.”