22 Sep 2021
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More people are getting hitched, and with larger diamonds!-Diamond Engagement Ring Sales in the U.S.
Pandemic, shmandemic! Nothing can come in the way of love, and as more couples are deciding to get engaged in the U.S., they are expressing their willingness to commit with larger diamonds, observes Vijetha Rangabashyam
By: Diamond World News Service
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Sep 21 2020 12:09PM
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Historically, in times of uncertainty, people tend to value what really matters in life, and there is nothing more important than the people we love. We have seen people who may have been considering a proposal for some time moved to action. We continue to see a stronger desire for higher quality stones. The classic 1ct round will always be our most popular shape and size but, ovals remain popular Angela Hope, Head Bridal Buyer, Ben Bridge JewelerNo matter how dark the clouds are, there’s always a silver lining. As the world is battling against this stubborn, rather mysterious virus, there are many interesting things happening around us. As human beings, many of us are taking stock of what’s important and what’s not. We are being more mindful, be it handling relationships or buying things that will still be relevant and special a hundred years from now. The diamond industry might have come to a grinding halt in the months of April and May, when the pandemic was at its peak, but by the same token, couples who were locked down together, or those who were living apart, felt more strongly about each other. If they could weather this pandemic together, there’s nothing else in the world they couldn’t face as a couple and this attitude towards love and relationships has led many people to consider tying the knot. “Life is too short”, this proverbial cliché is making people make certain decisions and choices, and getting engaged is one of them. Enter diamond rings, because what better way to express the willingness to spend the rest of one’s life with his loved one than diamonds?

Marked Increase in Engagement Ring Sales
While the global diamond business may be going through a lull, several jewellery retail stores in the U.S. and the UK have only been able to sustain their operations because of a spike in diamond engagement ring sales. When jewellery stores began to emerge out of lockdown, jewellers saw a boom, particularly in engagement rings demand. “Bridal sales were very strong up until the shut down in mid- March. The action started again when we reopened our stores in June, and we are very happy with the July and August we’ve had,” says Angela Hope, Head Bridal Buyer, Ben Bridge Jeweler that has 83 retail stores across West and North West of the U.S. and Canada. The retailer supported a virtual reality engagement. The man was planning to whisk his girlfriend away and get engaged on a beach vacation that they had planned. When that couldn’t happen, because he’s a developer, he created a virtual reality version and proposed that way. “It was so sweet and creative. We were so charmed by the lengths he went to make it magical for her! Historically, in times of uncertainty, people tend to value what really matters in life, and there is nothing more important than the people we love. We have seen people who may have been considering a proposal for some time moved to action,” adds Hope.

Life has been put into a new perspective and people are concerned. If you have someone special in your life, commit to them! Weddings, big events, parties and trips are not happening so why not make the bigger investment in diamonds? Round, Oval, Cushion, Emerald Cut in 2.0 ct and up have been popular. We believe spending will continue as long as people have hope that life may go back to normal! Scott Saunders, Senior VP, Business Development, London JewelersCouples who have put off getting engaged have decided to take the plunge, because of the pandemic, who knows what life will hand them next? “Engagement rings for Mayfair Rocks and Kristen Farrell are always a very strong purchase. Is this summer stronger because of Coronavirus? Well, it all depends. If the purchaser hunkered down with their significant other for the quarantine and came out still in a great place, then yeah, maybe they pushed the fast forward button on an engagement ring,” says Lauren Kulchinsky Levison, Chief Style Officer, Mayfair Rocks (Long Island) and Kristen Farrell (Manhattan), a family-owned 4th generation jeweller since 1927

People are also feeling safer to step out now as they’ve been on a lockdown for several months. “I believe COVID has been directly responsible for the increase. After being locked down for an extended period of time, people are feeling more comfortable getting out,” says Craig Underwood, President, Underwoods Fine Jewelers, Fayetteville, Arkansas. Couples have also been spending quality time with each other since the pandemic. The Arkansas-based jewellery store never shut down and saw a steady demand for engagement rings. “Engagement ring sales started spiking right before Christmas. The “slower” early Spring season seemed to pick up more than usual this year. We never closed so it’s been steady with engagement ring sales,” adds Taylor, a sales associate at the floor.

The rock just got bigger
In an interesting turn of events, couples are spending more money on larger diamonds – the carpe diem effect seems to be coming into play while they are eagerly scouting for the perfect ring. “Weddings, big events, parties and trips are NOT happening so why not make the bigger investment in a diamond!,” is the attitude that is driving more couples towards larger carat sizes believes Scott Saunders, Senior VP, Business Development, London Jewelers that has stores in NYC, Long Island and the Hamptons. Entertainment and travelling expenses have drastically come down for many people after the pandemic and those with higher disposable incomes are splurging on larger diamonds, which is boding well for the Indian diamond industry, where over 90 per cent of diamonds get cut and polished. “We are seeing a good turn of events. Items that were not moving during the last six months are suddenly moving. Diamonds over 3 carats are definitely seeing an uptick in demand,” says Priyal Shankar, Shivam Jewels, a Mumbai-based exporter of cut and polished diamonds.

Items that were not moving during the last six months are suddenly moving. Diamonds over 3 carats are definitely seeing an uptick in demand. 65 per cent of our goods comprise of rounds and the remaining is pear and oval. Goods between 1 ct – 1.20 ct as well as 2 ct to 2.50 ct are moving very well and there are enquiries for 5 ct as well. Priyal Shankar, Shivam Jewels Couples have been remotely working. All the big travel plans or spending on concert tickets, etc have been shelved. Women want diamonds that are larger than usual and their partners are indulging them. In a sense, the diamond business is poised to be placed better compared to other forms of luxury as love does not cease to exist, couples still want to get engaged, they still want to get married. “We’ve been getting a steady demand for larger size diamonds from several countries especially the U.S. and China. There are many reasons for this – people are not able to travel and spend on luxury vacations or even have large scale weddings, money is being spent on diamonds that are bigger. At this point of time the U.S. online sales for fancy shapes are doing very well, especially for Ovals and Emerald Cuts ranging from .15 points to .70 points,” says Ashish Doshi of Mumbai based Oopal Diamond.

For India, when the lockdown began and in the month of May, demand was only seen from Hong Kong. But as countries started easing their lockdowns, the largest chunk of demand has been coming from the U.S., especially in the months of July and August. “65 per cent of our goods comprise of rounds and the remaining is pear and oval. Goods between 1 ct – 1.20 ct as well as 2 ct to 2.50 ct are moving very well and there are enquiries for 5 ct as well,” adds Priyal. For India that has been grappling with the effects of Coronavirus, this is definitely light at the end of the tunnel. “The average carat size has moved up from 0.70 pts to 0.85 pts. The fastest moving goods currently range from 0.50 pts and 1ct ,” says Ankit Shah of Ankit Gems.

We have been getting a steady demand for larger size diamonds from several countries especially the U.S. and China. At this point of time the U.S. online sales for fancy shapes are doing very well, especially for Ovals and Emerald Cuts ranging from .15 points to.70 points Ashish Doshi, Oopal DiamondSize & shape – the sweet spot
While staples like rounds and princess cuts are still doing well, there’s been a new found love for oval shape diamonds. “1 ct and up is the new normal; marrying at a later age with 2 professional incomes; Photography on social media is not to scale, so the ladies have larger expectations; our customers know that quality costs more,” adds Underwood. People have also had a lot of time on their hands and are on social media for longer hours. Hence, there is a general awareness about what kind of rings is trending and how proposals are happening. Underwoods has seen many men look for the perfect ring, one of them Googled jewellery stores and they came up first. The man walked by the front of the store for years going to school (University of Arkansas), but had never been in. He bought a ring within 30 minutes. The store also sold a beautiful canary diamond ring to a customer who had planned on proposing in a sunflower field. But in general, 1-2 ct round, oval, cushion, rectangular or radiants seem to be moving fast at Underwoods. “I have been selling the following: 3-stone rings (ovals and round). For solitaires and halos I have been selling anywhere from 0.75ct to 1.25ct oval, round and marquises center stones,” adds Taylor. For London Jewelers round, oval, cushion and emerald shape in 2 ct and up has been popular. “We believe spending will continue as long as people have hope that life may go back to normal!” quips Saunders. At Ben Bridge, the desire for higher quality stones has been stronger. “The classic 1ct round will always be our most popular shape and size but, ovals remain popular.”

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