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The Engagement Ring Shopping Experience

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On Friday, David Liu spoke to a full house at The SMART Show in a special lunch session, “He Said, She Said: The Engagement Ring Shopping Experience”, featuring three couples talking about their engagement ring purchases. Here are a few notes:


  • Liu says you shouldn’t try to build an engagement-ring audience by advertising on ESPN SportsCenter. 65% of women were involed in the engagement ring purchase. For only 35% was the ring a surprise.
  • One brides says that she will let her husband surprise her in the timing of the proposal, “I am definitely not willing to be surprised by the ring itself.” So essentially — you can pick the time, but don’t you dare buy me a ring that I don’t like.
  • Most important three things for her: Style/setting, stone cut/shape, stone quality,
  • He shops around: average prospective groom searches for three months, visits about four retailers, looks at 27 styles.
  • Says Liu: “The woman is terribly important in this purchasing decision, and they’re not being treated as such”.
  • Online bridal sales are steady at about 9% over the past four or five years.
  • White metal dominates in bridal sales: white gold 73% (and going up), platinum 16% (and going down).
  • Liu introduced the three couples participating in the panel, and a wide-ranging, interesting conversation ensued. The crowd of more than 300 took advantage of the chance for some free market research, asking numerous questions of the three couples:
  • One of the couples said their top priority was a conflict-free diamond.
  • Another couple, Peter and Erin, both law students, went to Jared. “We did not like that at all”. Went to work with a jeweler his father knew and the sale was completed in a day.
  • One couple wanted a deep-set diamond because she (and he) worked in restaurant management. And they didn’t want a gemstone that stuck out and could be knocked out in a collision with a pot or pan while at work
  • Two of the couples went for platinum rings — one for white gold (for price reasons). Peter and Erin chose platinum because they didn’t want to have to replate white gold.
  • Couples had a wide time frame from start of the process to final delivery of the ring: five weeks, six months, one year and two months.
  • Ring size: on vacation, one woman happened to mention her ring size. Her boyfriend remembered it. For another couple, he forgot the ring size and the final ring was far too large. Have since had it resized two times.
  • Did you spend more time on the stone or the settings? All three couples spent more time on the stone.
  • Bridal party gifts: One couple would buy only a gift for the maid of honor and expected to spend $200; another had five bridesmaids and planned to spend $100 per, and the last had eight bridesmaids, for whom she planned to spend “probably about $20” per gift. Research shows average bridesmaid’s gift to be $79.
  • Couples were asked: Would they refer their jeweler to other friends? All would. One guy Recommendaitons tended to happen online rather than face to face. One woman likes to tell her friends “I’ve got a guy”, but has yet to pass on his name.

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