The Second Time Around

When it comes to love and marriage, Nicole Kidman, Ellen Barkin, and Pamela Anderson aren’t much different from the rest of us. Hollywood stars encounter the same relationship difficulties—divorce and remarriage—that many people endure, and they face the same dilemma: what to do with an old engagement ring and how to make sure the next one isn’t a reminder of the first.

For jewelers, failed unions can yield additional business through remounts of old engagement diamonds and sales of new bridal jewelry for second marriages. In a JCK poll of retail jewelers, 96 percent of respondents said divorced women bring their diamond engagement rings (DERs) to stores to be remounted or sold, and 92 percent said the engagement ring for the second marriage is more expensive than the ring for the first.

Unlike first-time brides, who typically forgo fancy mountings to put their money into bigger center stones, second-time brides appreciate more-sophisticated semimount styles. But they also want bigger stones, and they’re usually in a better financial position than first-time brides to get what they want. In fact, the center stones in DERs for second-time brides often are considerably larger than those in the rings of first-timers. “At Borsheim’s, we experience an average of a 75 to 100 percent upgrade in the majority of second-time bride scenarios,” says Sean Moore, diamond buyer for Borsheim’s in Omaha, Neb. “A trade-up has an average upgrade of 25 to 75 percent [in bigger stones].”

Jerry Robbins, a Philadelphia jeweler and CEO of Robbins Diamonds, makes the point for jewelers: “There’s more money in the second-time bride.”

To help women who are looking for a fresh, diamond-studded start, Robbins has this advice: “Start out every sale by saying Congratulations.”

Second-time brides have probably been influenced by advertising, says David Lampert, president of Lester Lampert in Chicago. “If you look at Town & Country, Departures, and InStyle, you don’t see many engagement rings with trillions, and that’s why we’re not selling many,” he says.

Popular styles are still primarily white metals and antique-look settings, according to JCK retail panel respondents. Some shoppers skip solitaires altogether—Zales has noticed women forgoing the DER and wearing just a diamond band.

Brands, such as Hearts On Fire, can help stores draw shoppers. Stores with nonbranded merchandise have a different strategy. “In the generic nonbranded arena, I think what’s selling is the stuff that looks like it’s branded,” says Robbins. The proliferation of proprietary diamond cuts in the past 10 years, including Tiffany’s Lucida, has increased consumer awareness and admiration of fancies.

Meanwhile, many divorcées want to sell their old rings or remake them into new jewelry. “We experience great success in the area of customer upgrades,” says Moore. “I would recommend that any store that wants to capitalize on this business should take trades and embrace its opportunity to create additional business.”