When thinking of independent designers specializing in custom, one-of-a-kind engagement rings, Rebecca Overmann is one of the first who comes to mind. Established in 2003 in San Francisco, Overmann’s eponymous brand is beloved for its detailed subtlety. Though that description may sound like an oxymoron, it makes sense once you see the designer’s work—it takes a certain attention to detail to create pieces that, while not over-the-top in ornament, are rich with evidence of handwrought care.
That aesthetic, paired with the designer’s incorporation of recycled materials and conflict-free stones, makes Rebecca Overmann an ideal choice for shoppers who embody those values—a growing customer segment.
Rebecca talked with JCK about the engagement business during the pandemic, how it’s changing the way she works with customers, and what shoppers are wanting now.
What are the most current popular styles among your clients?
Antique diamond solitaire engagement rings are by far the most popular style. Our signature styles bring a little bit of organic texture into the mix, as well as pavé accents on the band or a hidden halo for our bezel-set rings.
What is your favorite current style of engagement ring?
I’m currently loving our sapphire engagement rings, many of which are custom. Color is a new endeavor for me, and I love the tremendous variation, especially in the parti sapphires that we’ve been sourcing from Australia. Our customers are also becoming a bit more adventurous and seeking out these nontraditional alternatives.
Aside from diamond, what has been the most popular gemstone you’ve been either selling or seeing in wedding jewelry?
In the past we worked almost exclusively with diamonds, but lately have been offering sapphires, spinel, and zircon. For engagement rings, we prefer the hardness and durability of sapphires, and our customers have been super responsive.
Have you noticed that the pandemic is having an effect on any of the trends?
I haven’t noticed any trends related to design or style that are a result of the pandemic, but customers’ shopping habits are evolving. We are seeing customers spending more on their engagement and wedding jewelry, in part because they are spending less on travel and the actual ceremonies. We are also seeing an increase in jewelry purchases for birthdays and anniversaries.
Does it seem like more people are getting engaged, or have sales/interest in engagement rings remained about the same during this time?
I think we saw a little bit of a bump in engagements, likely due to plans that were initially put on hold at the beginning of the pandemic. And while it does seem to be more consistent now, I would say that interest and sales are higher than this time last year.
Engagement ring shopping has for so long been an in-person endeavor: seeing, touching, trying on. How has the pandemic changed how you do business, and do you see any of these changes being permanent, even when routines return to “normal”?
We’re currently operating by appointment only, and to be honest, it’s fantastic. It gives us a chance to spend more focused (and uninterrupted) time with our clients. It also gives us the chance to tailor our meetings to their specific projects and in many cases have a selection of stones pulled and ready for viewing. While we’re happy to accommodate walk-ins when possible, I don’t see us swaying from the by-appointment model.
What is your advice for conducting jewelry sales online, now and in the future?
Figure out what resonates with your core customer and what you as a designer would like to produce, then tailor the online experience accordingly. Utilize all the tools at your disposal to clearly communicate to customers in the way that they understand.
What are two things retailers should stock up on now for the holidays?
We’re anticipating this holiday season being big for engagement and will be adding to our collection of asymmetrical sapphire engagement rings in the $5,000–$8,000 range. Drop earrings and understated pendants are also important for more traditional gifting.
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