Recently, Reel 360 had the privilege of sitting in on a Virtual Bridal Tea Party for Kay, Jared, and Zales hosted by Toni Zehrer, Signet Senior Vice President and Chief Merchandising Officer. Toni was pleased to share the trends we expect to see this Spring season in commitment jewelry.
We began the call with a viewing of the first webisode of FURever LOVE from Zales’ IGTV, which can be viewed here:
Toni then immediately got down to business citing statistics about their Millennial and Gen-Z audience. Millennial and Gen Z is the largest population getting engaged right now and they’re shopping for bridal jewelry.
Signet’s research reveals that Millennial and Gen-Z are more socially conscious and prefer brands that are transparent about standing up for issues they care about.
They are also much more diverse with at least 40% soon-to-be-engaged couples multicultural and/or LGBTQ and they have been exchanging more jewelry prior to engagement including an average of 3 pieces, usually customized pieces like pendants and bracelets.
Millennial and Gen-Z couples are actively “disrupting” relationship traditions by moving in together (because of Covid-19 lockdowns) before meeting the parents or taking trips together, 17% have had a child together prior to engagement, 20% got engaged without a ring and bought a ring AFTER the proposal.
Millennial and Gen-Z women are also bucking traditions and are totally cool buying jewelry for themselves and contributing to bridal purchases. 1 in 3 couples are shopping and experiencing the “entire engagement-ring-journey” together and women are even ring shopping with their hetero life partners.
In many cases, women are the ones proposing in heterosexual relationships. Of those expected to get engaged within the next year, 44% of the rings are bought outright with no adjustments, 31% choose to buy a ring and include small changes, such as an engraving or sizing.
The Union by Kay Jewelers
The Kay team is building an inspiring community called The Union that underscores Kay’s position as an authority on love. It’s becoming the go-to resource for engagement for people seeking advice from industry insiders and influencers when preparing for a proposal.
The Union gives Kay’s expert Jewelry Consultants a way to share their expertise to help pre-engaged couples. The Union also features Kay clients’ love stories
Men want bling too and jewelers are seeing men buy rings with multiple rows of diamonds in larger carat total weights. While traditional bands are still popular, fancier men’s bands featuring diamond accents are also gaining popularity. Men are also exploring alternative metals such as Tungsten or stainless steel and they are also interested in custom bands as well.
One of the most exciting trends this season is Unisex jewelry. Kay minimalist bands work for all genders. Couples like to share to get more use out of pieces. Also, it’s another way to connect. Diamond bands work for everyone with gender-fluid designs to celebrate love and pearls and dangly earrings work for both men and women as accessories.
Pew Research has seen an increase in gender fluidity and acceptance that Gen Z feels, 48% of Gen Z say that LGBTQ marriage is a good thing for society, and as many as 16% of Gen Z identify as some version of LGBTQIA+, however, gender fluid doesn’t necessarily mean LGBTQIA+ couples.
Signet’s Key Research Conclusions
Couples say they’ve gotten closer during the pandemic. 51% of respondents said it has improved their relationship. They’ve had more quality “together” time (movies, TV, ordering takeout). Jewelry has continued to play a key role, too, in how they express love. About 80% of engaged respondents either bought or received jewelry during the pandemic, which is exactly the same as pre-pandemic.
Based on Signet’s analysis, we believe engaged couples will view the summer as a breakthrough given increasing vaccine rates, which indicates that we’ll see the bigger “wedding boom” in 2022.
New Wedding Trends
We are seeing several new trends which include Anniversary Bands, Enhancers, Customization, Hidden Halos, Loose Diamonds, Diamond alternatives, as well as copying celebrity trends and using Lab Created Diamonds.
Zales: Diamond bands are for weddings, anniversaries, celebration gifts or just because. They can be worn with an engagement ring, alone or several bands stacked together for a bolder look.
Jared: Exclusive to Jared, the brand Brilliant Moments® has become a favorite in the category as they are seeing couples “add to the stack” in celebration of the special moments along their wedding journey.
Kay: stacking diamond bands with your engagement ring, or stacking bands across your fingers, each as to commemorate different milestone moments or memories in the relationship
With all three jewelers marketing their stackable Anniversary Bands, they are encouraging their couples to speak to their stacking story, stacking wedding/anniversary bands with engagement ring, or stacking bands to commemorate different ceremonies (mini-mony and a larger ceremony) – “moment bands.”
Anniversary bands are more for just yearly anniversaries, they’re for moments that are important and meaningful too. Also from a fashion perspective, the younger generations are okay with breaking tradition and stacking fashion rings on top of their wedding rings.
Think of your solitaire ring as a little black dress. Enhancers, also known as wraps or guards, and diamond bands can dress up your solitaire. Wrap a solitaire in diamonds with an enhancer. Or wear your enhancer with any engagement ring to give it a more diamond intensive look.
For pre-engaged and recently engaged people, 13% designed their ring from scratch. Zales, Kay, and Jared each have their own customization tools
Zales: With the Vera Wang LOVE configurator, the customer can choose a diamond or a gemstone center. There is also a Zales specific create your own configurator as well.
Kay: Create a completely customizable engagement ring with the Create Your Own design tool, or feel like you’re designing a ring with Neil Lane himself with the Neil Lane ring customizer, to get that bold, hand-crafted, modern Hollywood glamour style just the way you want, and if you’d like to design your ring completely from scratch, Kay can help you bring your dream to life.
Jared: At every single one of Jared stores and online, customers have a variety of ways to put their personal touch on jewelry, whether adding an engraved phrase to a ring, or working with Jared artisans to custom-design a ring from scratch. At some locations, they’re unveiling first-ever Foundry locations –where you can have an immersive experience with one of their artisans to design from scratch using CAD software and 3D Printers
Kay saw this design element requested in the engagement rings which were designed for professional football players’ recent engagements because they are classic and elegant and add sparkle at every angle.
For customers looking for something entirely unique, Jared has a spectacular selection of high-quality diamonds in every popular diamond shape and carat weight, including hard-to-find larger carat stones and a full range of unique diamond shapes. Every Jared store has access to 150,000 loose diamonds to choose from.
Kay is seeing trends in gemstones such as morganite and aquamarine and Neil Lane loves to incorporate gemstones into his exclusive collection at Kay.
Zales is noting gemstone center stones are popular in their Enchanted Disney bridal collection and options for a unique center stone in Vera Wang Love Custom
Jared’s Vera Wang WISH Collection features natural blue sapphire engagement rings as a diamond alternative
Sapphires and Opals are also trending as alternatives to diamonds in all three as well.
Celebrity Engagement Trends
Fancy cut stones are still very popular. Kay, one of the largest jewelry retailers, reports that Pear is one of the most popular styles, while Jared reports that larger carat weight styles such as Pnina Tornai and Royal Asscher are of the most popular among customers and celebrities alike. Radiant and cushion cuts rise in popularity as well (as seen by Kay), but Classic is still popular with a larger center stone as well as 3-stone emerald cut rings.
LCD (Lab Created Diamonds)
Lab-created diamonds exhibit the same optical, chemical, and physical properties as natural diamonds, but they are grown in a lab over weeks or months.
Many people like having them as a choice because they provide an opportunity to get a bigger, bolder look along with a higher quality diamond, give couples a way to maximize their budget, and provide a modern approach to classic jewelry trends bringing together master craftsmanship with the latest science.
Jared’s lab-created diamonds are made of carbon and exhibit the same optical, chemical and physical properties as natural diamonds. Jared will be launching Canary Yellow LCD in Loose Diamonds, Complete Bridal, and Sol Earrings & Sol Pendant offerings. Kay offers all colorless lab-created diamonds, with higher clarity ratings for a bold, elevated look.
We all eagerly await to see how these trends play out in real life scenarios as well as the expected “wedding boom” in 2022.
Although, I’m not looking for a ring this time around!
Joia DaVida reports on the entertainment industry in both Chicago and Los Angeles.