NICE ICE, BABY
If the topic is diamonds—whether it’s lab-grown or natural, loose, or mounted in a jewelry design, Plumb Club Members have intel, advice, and opinions that may help you land on a bridal assortment that’s on the cutting edge of what customers want. Ahead, a snapshot of the diamond conversations we should all be having, from engagement ring styles to what makes a great Mother’s Day jewelry gift.
Can We Talk About Lab-Grown Diamonds?
Consumers are fully, abundantly aware that lab-grown diamonds are an option for engagement rings and beyond. As of last fall, jewelry with lab-grown diamonds comprised around 10% of U.S. diamond engagement ring sales, according to data provided by industry analyst Edahn Golan at Facets 2022, the recent conference held by Antwerp World Diamond Centre.
The product is readily available, heavily marketed, and a quick Google search can answer a consumer’s most pressing concerns in a nanosecond.
You may have observed that clients are more clued-in, curious and generally into the idea of lab-grown in your own dealings with them of late.
“The conversation retailers are having today has evolved dramatically over the past couple of years, from early education centered on confirming that lab grown diamonds are just as ‘real’ as earth mined diamonds, to now spotlighting the added values and benefits of the category,” says Brittany Lewis, chief marketing officer at WD Lab-Grown Diamonds.
“Language is important,” says Monica McDaniel, VP of marketing at Chatham. “Consumers value a knowledgeable salesperson and expect authentic guidance when making a jewelry purchase. We believe that the only two terms that should be used at the store level when speaking with consumers about both options are laboratory-grown and earth-mined. This puts emphasis on the environment in which they grow, rather than what they are. At the end of the day, they are both crystallized carbon.”
Getting more, or better quality for less, has become yet another important talking point for many in the lab-grown diamond sector. There’s no reason to downplay the facts: With lab-grown diamonds, you can purchase a larger diamond, of much higher quality, at the same starting budget.
“Alternatively, if you come in under budget by purchasing a lab grown diamond, for those planning their honeymoon, you may spend those savings on a once-in-a-lifetime travel or dining experience, or simply a matching pair of diamond studs to wear on the wedding day and beyond,” notes Lewis at WD.
In other words, retailers might consider working this angle: “Extend that celebration and commemoration of your love to mark all of life’s most meaningful moments with diamonds.”
Many conversations about lab-grown diamonds at the retail counter naturally lead to the topic of sustainability. In addition to affordability, Continental/Novell Global “has responded to this trend by gathering feedback from retailers to understand the market,” says Rick Mulholland. “Sustainability, traceability, affordability, and eco-friendliness are the key selling points of lab-grown diamonds, making them a popular choice for consumers seeking environmentally responsible options, especially for larger stone sizes.”
Beyond this, IDD suggests emphasizing how the product can be a vehicle for self-expression and creating a sense of individuality. “The focus should be less about price and more about design, style and taste,” says Brad Campbell, chief partnership officer.
But one big issue for a lot of retailers remains: the fact that lab-grown diamonds have no resale value. “I would agree, but most companies do not give full value on trade-ins in any industry,” says Theresa Namie, merchandise manager at Ostbye. “Lab-grown diamonds need to be sold on the sparkle that will last forever just like a mined diamond.”
In fact, the idea that there are two camps at the retail level—one that’s staunchly in support of mined and another that’s all about lab-grown—is starting to fade from reality. “When talking with customers I think it is best to offer both options and let the customer make the decision based off their needs and feelings about the product,” she says.
McDaniel agrees: “Our focus should be on connecting emotion to the beautiful products we are selling. Jewelry, no matter if it’s lab-grown or earth-mined, is the touchstone of life. Sell the quality of the stones and the craftsmanship of the piece, sell the uniqueness of the design, and most importantly, sell the story. This will undoubtedly help grow our business which benefits us all.”
Is the Halo Hot or Not? TPC Members Weigh In
It’s officially show season! You know you need to restock your bridal assortment, but what are the reigning diamond engagement ring trends? You’ll find some answers here but let’s talk about halo engagement rings. Specifically, are they hot or not?
JCK’s Brittany Siminitz recently declared that “the hidden halo is the new must-stock.” Which sounds about right—classic halos have been around for a while, so it’s no surprise that couples might be warming to the idea of a fresh take.
What’s a hidden halo? It’s a subtle engagement ring design in which the diamond border surrounds the center stone from the side angles instead of bordering the top.
“The hidden halo is the latest must-have in the industry, offering a fresh and modern take on the traditional halo style,” says Frederick Goldman’s Allison Goodman, senior vice president of merchandising. While the classic halo design is still popular, it has shifted to a more understated look. This style is a perfect choice for those who want to make a statement without being too bold.”
Rick Mulholland at Continental/Novell Global agrees: “Additionally, the hidden halo raises the diamond off the main ring, giving the illusion of a larger diamond and adding interest to its side profile,” he says.
Cynergy Trading has had success with a style that features a partially hidden halo and a “surprise halo” looped around the base of the setting like a chic diamond choker. “We have had success with the partially hidden halo style since around 2015 as it allows a more subtle effect than regular halos and works well with larger centers,” says Jeff Levitt, vice president, merchandise. “The surprise halo has become very popular over the last couple of years and this ring, R45629, utilizes both halo types within the same style.”
Other Plumb Club members stress the importance of offering a variety of halo styles as a merchandising strategy. For example, a considered mix of halo styles is the ticket for Wilkerson, which is promoting a ready-to-ship assortment called Petite Bridal that includes several halo options. “We have been very successful with halo designs, quality diamonds, and nice mountings with great prong work,” says Russ Whitehouse. “It seems to really score with the consumer who wants to walk into a jeweler and walk out with a complete set.”
Theresa Namie, merchandise manager at Ostbye doesn’t think halos are as hot as other trending styles such as solitaires with unique details, three-stone rings and organic motifs. “That said, our traditional halos still are best sellers in round, oval and pear shapes, as average Americans like their classics,” she said. As for the hidden halo’s rise in popularity, she likes the idea: “It’s classic and unique—how fun is it to have a design wrapped around your center gem to look at while driving your car or keyboarding?”
Clearly there are lots of reasons for retailers to look into hidden halos but don’t be afraid to entertain other possibilities within the category.
“A trend towards alternative halo shapes, such as geometric and vintage designs, is growing,” says Mulholland at Continental/Novell Global, which is launching a bridal collection featuring these elements at JCK in June. “With alternative halo shapes available, there is now a wider range of options for couples looking for a unique and modern take on this classic design.”
Moms Love Diamonds! Must-Stock Mother’s Day Gifts
Spring has sprung and that means your plans for the season’s holidays—the ones that tend to prompt the appearance of jewelry gifts—should already be in place. For example, when it comes to Mother’s Day (May 14). what products will you be promoting on social media and beyond?
If you need some ideas, we’ve already spotlighted the 2022 holiday season’s proven winners. Nearly all of them incorporated diamonds, and sparkle such that only diamonds can deliver is definitely a great gifting strategy for Mother’s Day, no matter what mom’s age or personal style.
From diamond pendants to colorful diamond-set stacking rings, here’s what TPC members are recommending for Mother’s Day jewelry gifts.
For a traditional gift, a heart motif is the ultimate symbol of pure adoration. Our 14k yellow gold heart pendant (FDP5098Y) is accented by high quality lab-grown diamonds, and we’ve designed the matching earrings (FDE4750Y) as hoops with a profile of the heart shape. And for an out-of-the-box gift idea, present her with something that represents your gratitude for all the times she’s been there for you with a clock-inspired pendant with a lab-grown diamond encrusted center from our Timeless Collection (FDP5092Y). –—Monica McDaniel, VP of marketing at Chatham
Frederick Goldman is promoting its Chroma collection of stacking rings which pair vivid ceramic with diamonds and gold, designed to or provide a fun, yet sophisticated way for clients to express their personality with color.
I’m a mom and I agree, moms love diamonds,” says Theresa Namie , merchandise manager at Ostbye. “So, I’m highly recommending our Enhanceables 3-in-1 pendant. The designs come in traditional hearts and teardrops or in symbols like the Tree of Life or bees. The designs can be worn together or apart, a daughter can wear one half and the mom wears the other. This is a gift to be treasured. –—Theresa Namie, merchandise manager at Ostbye.
Our Ribbon collection has been a repeat-sell-through go to for a large number of jewelers. The collection consists of rings, earrings and bangle bracelets. Our lead item is B394672 in white gold with a scalloped yellow gold edge and an average total weight of 1.3 cts. –—Russ Whitehouse, Wilkerson
We are promoting our Aurelie Gi Gold & Diamond “Mere” Necklace which literally spells out the name Mama, for Mother’s Day this year. –— Katherine Whitacre national sales director for Aurelie Gi, a subsidiary of Chic Pistachio
Diamond necklaces are a timeless and beautiful way to honor the special bond between a mother and child. Our intricate designs, featuring multiple diamonds, are not only a symbol of love but also a work of art that can be passed down for generations to come. -—Rick Mulholland, Continental/Novell Global