Zoom, Zoom: Bridal Jewelers on Taking the Engagement Business Virtual

With the pandemic causing the cancellation of large events, weddings have no doubt been affected. But it’s not necessarily as dire as it sounds—weddings are happening, as are engagements, in a big way.

To-be-weds are finding other ways to celebrate their nuptials aside from the traditional events. So-called minimonies with just a few family members or friends are perhaps one of the biggest, most memorable trends to come of the pandemic. Others are opting to elope, tying the knot on the dates of their planned weddings, while postponing the populous bashes for a later date.

According to a survey conducted by The Knot, only 7% of couples have opted to cancel their weddings altogether—the majority of those polled have either postponed or made no changes at all. Of those not canceling their weddings, 52% said they’re planning to postpone the date until later this year, while 33% plan to push it to 2021.

However it happens, weddings are taking place—you can’t stop love. But what about engagements? It must be assumed that if a couple can get through quarantine together, they can get through anything, right?

Many of the jewelers JCK has spoken to have reported that their bridal businesses are positively booming—excellent news. But exactly how it’s flourishing has changed, as retailers and designers have had to adapt to social distancing restrictions and shoppers’ discomfort with meeting with others indoors.

Below, jewelers in the bridal business describe how they’ve changed their operations to suit the current situation and how customers are presently shopping for engagement rings and wedding bands.

“At this time, we are focusing our efforts on leveraging digital to power the discovery and education process,” says Paul Tacorian, CEO of Tacori. “In May, we launched Tacori Connect to help support the sales efforts of our authorized Tacori retail partner network by providing a personalized virtual experience for consumers who can’t physically be present at a brick-and-mortar location. In terms of sales, we are seeing a sharp increase in demand for Tacori since reopening [in May].”

Lauren Addison crossover ring
Crossover ring in 18k yellow gold and platinum with 1.5 ct. round diamond, price on request; Lauren Addison

“Just last week I met with a few couples virtually who are eager to press on with their engagement plans and two others who chose to get married in City Hall and secure the engagement ring after the fact,” says Lauren Curtin of Lauren Addison jewelry. “What is clear is that COVID-19 has put things into perspective, and for many that has meant that love shall not wait. The pandemic has only demanded that we get a bit more creative in how we support and serve our clientele, with virtual appointments and e-commerce platforms being crucial during these times.”

Campbell Charlotte wedding band
Custom wedding band in platinum with diamonds, price on request; Campbell + Charlotte

“I would argue that more people are getting engaged and that these couples are getting creative about what a wedding means,” says Jenny Crane McHugh, designer and founder of Campbell + Charlotte. “For many couples, this means a much smaller wedding now with a potentially bigger wedding down the line. For my business, this scenario has been a good thing because couples have more budget for the ring!”

Walters Faith engagement ring
Engagement ring with diamonds, price on request; Walters Faith

“Not only are we still working with clients on wedding bands, but we had two separate couples approach us about creating a wedding band set,” says Mollie Good of Walters Faith. “Both had to postpone their weddings, which were supposed to be this summer, so instead of creating one band they each requested a pair of delicate diamond bands to flank their fiancées’ engagement rings. Each gave one band on the date they were supposed to be married, and the second band is for the future date.”

Michelle Oh custom engagement ring
Custom engagement ring in 18k yellow gold, with bicolor tourmaline and diamonds, price on request; Michelle Oh

“We are still receiving requests for bespoke engagement and wedding rings, so it seems like people are still getting engaged!” says Michelle Oh of her eponymous brand. “The main thing that has changed is the way people shop and how we conduct our in-person dealings. Fortunately for us, being that we always had a strong online presence, it has not affected us too much. People are still ordering their wedding rings as normal—the uncertainty around when they can reschedule their dates only seems to spur people to want to get the rings made, as it gives them something to look forward to wearing.”

Shahla Karimi Diamond Foundry ring
Pear X ring in 14k yellow gold with 2 ct. pear-shape diamond and 1.44 cts. t.w. diamonds, $37,480; Shahla Karimi

“Surprisingly, bridal is doing very well despite weddings being postponed or downsized,” says designer Shahla Karimi. “Purchases for self, graduations, push presents, etc., are down year-over-year as people seem to have less disposable income or fear of what the future may hold. In October, we will be releasing our second engagement capsule to meet the demand for bridal. We will not be releasing new fashion pieces. Gold is also up 37% since the beginning of the year. We have held steady with our pricing until now, but as a small business trying to stay afloat, we will temporarily have to raise prices on some of our gold-heavy pieces.”

Top: Inflori engagement ring in 18k white and rose gold with diamonds, $3,590 (center stone not included); Tacori

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JCK Contributing Editor

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