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The Truth About How Modern Couples Shop for Engagement Rings

Hint: They leave little to chance, and independent jewelers still rule.

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COUPLES ARE LEAVING very little to chance when it comes to choosing engagement rings, according to The Knot’s 2019 Jewelry and Engagement Study, which synthesized the buying habits of more than 21,000 engaged or recently married couples.

In the study, 7 of 10 “proposees” admit they were “somewhat involved” in selecting or purchasing their engagement ring, and nearly a quarter of that group (23%) say they looked at rings with their partner.

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What’s more, 78% of proposers say their significant other dropped hints about their ring preferences and nearly one in 10 proposees even report being present when the ring is selected or purchased.

The Knot reported in 2018 that 37% of engagements take place between November and February, so the popular bridal website celebrated the advent of the 2019-2020 “proposal season” by releasing the results of its extensive survey.

Some of the biggest takeaways are that the average cost of an engagement ring in 2019 is $5,900 (up from $5,680 in 2018), the most popular precious metal type is white gold (54%), the preferred diamond shape is round (47%) and social media is the best source for proposees to find ring-design inspiration (80%).

Here’s more of what we learned…

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• Proposers prefer to purchase their engagement rings from a local independent retail jeweler (40%). The second-most-popular outlet is a national or regional jewelry chain (30%).

• More than 90% purchase the center stone and setting from the same retailer.

• For the proposer, style/setting was the most important feature when selecting a ring, followed by price, then quality. For the proposee, style/setting also came first, followed by cut/shape and then type of stone.

• 7 in 10 proposers report sticking to their budget, while 94% report paying for the ring on their own and 3% say their partner helped contribute.

• The most popular center stones are diamonds at 83%, other precious stones at 10% and colored diamonds at 3%. The most popular “other” precious stones are moissanite (which has nearly doubled in popularity since 2017) at 19%, sapphire at 18%, morganite at 12% and aquamarine at 6%.

• The most popular setting materials are white gold (54%), rose gold (14%), platinum (13%), yellow gold (13%) and sterling silver (7%).

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• The round brilliant-cut diamond is favored by 47%, followed by princess/square (14%), oval (14%), cushion (9%) and pearl/teardrop (5%).• Proposers, in general, are less likely to use social media for ring inspiration. Instead, they rely on friends and family (34%), jewelry designer websites (32%), local brick-and-mortar jewelry stores (29%) and online wedding planning resources (22%).

• The amount spent on an engagement ring varied widely by region: Mid-Atlantic: $7,500; New England: $6,900; Southwest: $5,600; West: $5,500; Southeast: $5,400; Midwest: $5,300.

• The average men’s wedding band costs $510 and the majority are made of tungsten (23%), followed by white gold (21%). The average women’s wedding band costs $1,100 and the majority are made of white gold (52%), followed by rose gold (15%).

In addition to their purchasing preferences, The Knot also asked couples about how their proposals went down…

• 22% of couples connected using online dating websites or apps, up 5% from 2017; 19% met through friends; 17% at school; 13% through work; and 11% via a social setting.

• 71% dated for more than two years before getting engaged.

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• The majority (67%) of engaged couples are between the ages of 25 to 34.

• 87% of engagements are planned ahead of time, while 13% are spontaneous.

• 40% of proposals are planned one to three months in advance and 17% are planned four to six months in advance.

• Nearly 90% of proposers ask their partner to marry them with a ring in hand, 87% say the words “will you marry me,” 84% ask on bended knee and 71% ask their partner’s parents for permission before proposing.

• Almost 50% of those proposing believe the proposal was a complete surprise to their partner, while only 33% of proposees say it actually was.

• Directly following the proposal, 75% call friends and family and 72% send them photos of their ring. Additionally, 92% share the news on social media.

Howard Cohen is the Shoreham, NY-based editor of The Jeweler Blog, a daily blog ghost-written for retail jewelers. Cohen, a long-time industry veteran, is dedicated to making social media tasks simple and affordable for every jeweler. For more information, visit thejewelerblog.com or contact Cohen at 631-821- 8867, hscohen60@gmail.com. Websites: thejewelerblog.com, thejewelerblog.wordpress.com.

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The Most Important Part of Your Sales Presentation Happens After the Sale

Go the extra mile for your client if you want to see them again.

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HOW DO YOU FEEL about a movie that ends poorly? No matter how good it was before then, a weak finish leaves you feeling dissatisfied.

Jewelry presentations are the same way. Clients tend to remember the first 30 seconds and the last 30 seconds more than the middle of your presentation. And yet, all too often after the purchase is made (or repair taken in), the salesperson turns and walks to the back, allowing the client to leave the store on their own.

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The way out is as important as the way in. We have to treat the client as a guest who is coming into our home for one of the most important events of their lives. Not only that, but the client should feel even more important walking out than they did when they came into the store.

When everything is done, always walk the client to the door. Open the door for them, give them two of your business cards, and ask them to give one to a friend.

Even when you have other clients waiting for you, always walk each one out. Others will see this service and expect the same. Many times as you’re walking the client out, they will stop and look into a case they didn’t look into on the way in. This allows you to start another presentation, put something on a wish list, plant a seed for a later purchase or even put something on layaway.

Selling on the way out is easy. The client is now in a spending mood, and obviously they love you or they wouldn’t have given you their money already. It also allows you to give suggestions about service and other events you have coming up.

Sometimes, the client may have other important things they want to talk about on the way to the door. They’ll start by saying, “By the way…” This allows you to build rapport, get information that allows you to do more effective clienteling, and become even more of a friend.

So make the client feel that your store is the most awesome place to shop. Not just because of the merchandise, but because there is not any other place to shop in their area that compares to the professionalism, politeness and experience that your team delivers.

People get ho-hum service everywhere — but don’t let it happen in your store. It’s up to us to break the cycle. Make the exit even more awesome than the entrance. And remember: Always thank them for coming in!

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That Weird ‘Diamond in a Diamond’ Isn’t for Sale. It Will Go Here Instead …

Alrosa revealed the find in September.

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RUSSIA’S ALROSA DIAMOND mining company announced Thursday that the curious “diamond in a diamond” revealed on social media in early September has been added to its collection of rare finds — and is not for sale.

In early September, Alrosa surprised its Instagram followers with a video that seemed to show a tiny rough diamond moving freely in the cavity of a larger one (pictured above). The caption read, “A diamond in a diamond? We couldn’t help but share this very special find with you.”

At the time, Alrosa wasn’t quite sure what to make of the phenomenon. Nobody at the mining company had ever seen anything like it. Five weeks later, Alrosa scientists confirmed that both the host and smaller crystal were diamonds.

They named the double-diamond “Matryoshka” because its strange configuration is reminiscent of the popular Russian nesting dolls. The specimen, which weighs only 0.62 carats, was discovered in Yakutia at Alrosa’s Nyurba mining and processing division.

Matryoshka joins Alrosa’s ever-growing collection of diamond wonders. These include crystals that resemble a soccer ball, a Valentine heart, a skull and a fish.

Interestingly, some of Alrosa’s most unusually shaped diamonds have come to light at the most opportune times.

Credits: Diamond images courtesy of Alrosa Diamonds and via Alrosa/Instagram. Soccer ball image by Pumbaa80 (Self-published work by Pumbaa80) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons.

For instance, an Alrosa discovery in July of 2018 had us wondering out loud if Mother Nature was a World Cup soccer fan. Just three days prior to the Russian national soccer team’s exciting quarterfinal match against Croatia in the 2018 FIFA World Cup™, Alrosa discovered a diamond that looks amazingly like a soccer ball.

In February of 2019, Alrosa revealed a 65.7-carat rough diamond that had an uncanny resemblance to a Valentine heart.

“Diamonds of a distinctive shape that resemble some object or symbol are extremely rare in nature,” Alrosa’s deputy CEO Evgeny Agureev said at the time. “Most rough diamonds are octahedron-shaped or do not have a particular shape at all. The appearance of a heart-shaped rough diamond, especially on the eve of Valentine’s Day, seems to be a symbolic gift of nature not only to our company, but also to all loving couples.”

Credits: Diamond images courtesy of Alrosa Diamonds and via Alrosa/Instagram.

Alrosa noted that a 24-carat, skull-shaped stone was unearthed prior to Halloween in 2018.

In August of 2019, the company posted to Instagram a photo of a rough stone resembling a fish. It had been discovered back in 2002, and was revisited to help promote the firm’s ecology efforts, which include releasing hundreds of thousands of fish into the rivers near its mining operation in Yakutia.

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Upping the Game: Why Dubai Watch Week is the Perfect Example of How to Run a Fair

A key factor: There’s no pressure to buy or sell.

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WATCHMAKING CLASSES TAUGHT by Swiss masters. Luxury hotel rooms at the new Waldorf Astoria. Daily gourmet breakfasts. Seven limited-edition timepieces being released. Three-course lunches in a Cipriani pop-up. Thirteen education panels featuring world-renowned speakers. An international press squad representing over 45 media titles. And Jean-Claude Biver dropping knowledge and signing books. Any one of these would be enough to raise the level at most watch-related trade shows or fairs, but when you combine them and place them into a setting like Dubai, the result is almost unfathomable. Unless, of course, you lived it, which is exactly what I was privileged enough to do just over a week ago.

For the third year in a row, I was invited by the team at Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons and Dubai Watch Week to attend a horological event they were organizing. Two years ago, it was to visit the third edition of Dubai Watch Week in Dubai as a member of the press. Last year, it was an event they were holding in London in collaboration with Christie’s Auction House called “Horology Forum.” I was asked to be one of five panel moderators for that event; an honor which I never thought could be matched. That is, until this year when again I was invited by DWW to moderate the final panel, entitled “Hot Potato.” Each of my experiences has been extraordinary.

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The No. 1 characteristic that separates Dubai Watch Week from any other watch fair (or jewelry event, for that matter) is that there is no pressure to buy or sell. In the U.S., the closest we have to that experience is the American Gem Society Conclave, which I’ve often compared to Dubai Watch Week on an education level. But in terms of pulling in a worldwide audience that includes watch brands, retailers, collectors, journalists, scientists, speakers and skilled artisans, there is no other fair that can hold a candle to this one, and the other watch fairs know it.

In 2017, I left Dubai thinking to myself that I had just left the most organized event I’d ever attended. In my mind it was flawless, leaving very little room for improvement, and yet when I stepped onto the impeccably pristine grounds of the DIFC this year I was flabbergasted. It was not just grander from a visual standpoint, but the program itself read like perfection. Panel topics at the “Horology Forum” covered everything from how smart watches are affecting today’s watch sales, to what really happens when you’re put on a waiting list for a watch, to how women come to power in fields largely dominated by men, to how industry outsiders (like award-winning actor Aldis Hodge and quantum physicist Michael Biercuk) are finding their place in the watch community. Attendees were also treated to events held in the “Creative Hub,” where several watch brands discussed their histories and where some even released new limited-edition timepieces in conjunction with Dubai Watch Week. Watchmaking classes were taught in a separate pop-up venue, as well as classes on watch design, dial painting, engraving and more. Christie’s even had its own auction room on premises where one could attend talks on topics such as the restoration of timepieces and why vintage Patek Philippes are so sought after. And, because DWW gets it, there was a children’s program. Yes … an actual children’s program! Because let’s face it, kids will eventually determine the success of the watch industry, both as future buyers and as future artisans, so why not teach them how special watchmaking is now, right?

As the days turned into nights, the festivities didn’t slow down. There were cocktail events by Tudor, Grand Seiko, Ulysse Nardin, HYT, Bell & Ross, Roger Dubuis, Girard Perregaux and others. Oh, and if you tired of any of those, Chopard pretty much had its own nightclub set up, complete with a well-known Dubai D. J. and plenty of industry personalities.

These days, as an almost-47-year-old woman, I feel that the older I get the harder I am to impress. I’ve done a lot in my life, and I’ve seen even more, so when something comes along that is special – truly special – I sit up and take notice, and often will do my best to tell the world about it. This is exactly what Dubai Watch Week makes me want to do. Everyone from their smiling security guards, to their wonderful public relations and press teams, all the way up to Hind Seddiqi – the director general of Dubai Watch Week – went out of their way to make sure that every person in attendance was taken care of, and that everyone had an experience unlike any other. Hind and her entire team succeeded in accomplishing that, yet again, which makes me wonder how the 2021 edition could possibly get any better. Although, seeing what the DWW organizers have been capable of so far, I’m sure it will be otherworldly.

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