What’s in a Name?
In a fall 2014 webinar, Bernadette Smith urged jewelers to exchange the term bridal jewelry for something more gay-friendly.
“If a man walks into your store, he could be looking for an engagement ring for his girlfriend, but it could be for his boyfriend,” explained the author of The Business of Gay Weddings: A Guide for Wedding Professionals and founder of the Gay Wedding Institute.
“Bridal is not a consumer-friendly term,” says Severine Ferrari, editor and publisher of YourEngagement101.com.
Ferrari learned this the hard way two years ago when readers complained that her publication was too gender-specific—a move that led to changes in content. “We are using broader terms like boyfriend and/or girlfriend,” she says. “It’s not only about sexual preference.… Couples are moving in together and spending a longer time dating before getting engaged and married.”
Ferrari shared that lesson with advertisers, many of which now carry wedding bands as a part of their commitment collections.
Gay couples “feel excluded,” Smith said during her seminar, when they encounter the terms bride and groom. A few inclusive language options: brides and grooms, the couple, partners, newlyweds, and spouses. “Millennials, especially, will assume you [should] know better, and will go somewhere else if you don’t make them feel welcome.” (Check out gayweddinginstitute.com for information on language training.)
Dan Scott, chief marketing officer for World Trade Jewelers, also wants to abandon the term bridal jewelry and to merchandise the category in a lifestyle manner. For instance, in upscale department stores—where pieces are mixed and matched according to how people dress—the look is much more welcoming. “The one piece of jewelry people wear every day is a wedding band,” he says. “Why wouldn’t it be looked at as an accessory merchandised with watches and complementary pieces?
“People are dressing for success,” Scott says. “Get them into the store through a ‘celebrations’ category.”
Sphere of Commitment
Beast band in platinum; $7,500; Lisa Jenks, Brooklyn, N.Y.; 646-519-7229; lisajenks.com
The idea for Lisa Jenks’ Commitment collection took shape in spring 2014 when a store asked her for some men’s bands in platinum. Once she began sketching, she decided to make them part of her permanent offerings. To date, 18 unisex SKUs are available in stainless steel—“A lot of people have been asking for alternative metals,” she says—plus 18k gold and platinum, with retail prices starting at $400 (for steel).
She also plans to offer retailers a kit of steel samples; from there, customers can order a design in the metal of their choice. But perhaps the best part of the Commitment collection is the names—all of which nod to comic book heroes: Dare Devil, Professor Night, Boom Boom, and Beast, among others. “Our names will put somebody over the edge to buy,” jokes Jenks.
Lisa Jenks Boom Boom band in 18k gold; $3,620