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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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These 3 Jewelry Marketing Approaches Will Draw More Self-Purchasers To Your Store

It begins by focusing your advertising on ideas rather than products.

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A ROUND THE WORLD, women are primary decision-makers for high-dollar purchases. If you are not marketing to women in ways that appeal to and engage them, you’re not benefitting from their purchasing power.

Here are three marketing suggestions to improve your female appeal, and which illustrate the differences between male and female buyers.

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1. Attract women with ideas. Picture the typical Ace Hardware ad. Ace focuses on products and prices. They know men come to their stores for specific tools and solutions. Ace’s lifestyle advertising features outdoor cooking, lawn care, and similarly specific objectives.

Those themes all appeal to the average guy’s get-it-done style of shopping.

In comparison, Home Depot’s advertising focus is soft. They convey the joy of making a home beautiful and welcoming through fun projects with one’s spouse. Home Depot is not selling tools — they’re selling hearth, home, and togetherness.

When women shop for luxury goods, they consider how they will feel when they have the object, and how the object will affect their happiness (even if the object is not for themselves).

When you advertise, do you push specific items? Or do you promote the ideas your business stands for, and how you contribute to the quality of your customers’ lives? Specific item promotions are useful for your male shoppers, but to bring in more women, you must tell meaningful stories.

2. Nurture leads with social proof. Social proof is the psychological tendency of people to conform (also known as herd behavior). The digital marketplace skillfully exploits social proof to make sales. Ratings, votes, reviews, likes, comments, and shares are all forms of social proof.

But remember that men and women use social proof differently. Men prefer votes and ratings, because they want measurable, specific feedback. Women use dialog to enhance the shopping experience, so they appreciate comments and reviews. To attract female buyers, develop a library of reviews and comments.

3. Merchandise your store for themes, not things. Walk into any Williams Sonoma, and you’ll find theme-driven baking displays that include bakeware, utensils, mixes, and the latest color Kitchenaid mixer. Williams Sonoma does a phenomenal job of merchandising to women (not coincidentally, women hold almost 60 percent of Williams Sonoma’s top executive positions).

Men like to cook too, but they are more likely than women to head to a restaurant supply store for their kitchen purchases, partly for the prices, but also because restaurant suppliers offer the compartmentalization and categorization they crave.

Women don’t shop for things; they shop for themes. Merchandise around themes in your store, and women will gravitate to those sections and displays.

These are just a few of the ways in which female buyers respond and behave differently than male buyers. If your buyers are more than 50 percent male, you could grow your sales instantly just by attracting more women to your store and keeping them there long enough to close.

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Sales Truth

Why A Well-Told Proposal Story Could Help Close The Sale

It starts with getting the groom-to-be involved.

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WHY IT IS TRUE: He is in your store to purchase an engagement ring, a totally unfamiliar task for him.

PLAN OF ACTION: Ask him how he plans to propose. If this is something he has not considered, take this opportunity to share several beautiful proposal stories your clients have used. Ask him questions, get him involved, encourage him to share his plan, and help him embellish it in any way you can.

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What This Jeweler Learned From a Cruise Line Changed Her Store Forever

Here’s how it can change yours too.

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WE TOOK A cruise for my mother-in-law’s 80th birthday. The enchantment started the minute we walked aboard the ship. People called out our name and joyfully announced our arrival. Next, customer services had our vacation packet waiting and warmly discussed all of our shore excursions, on-board activities and general information.

You might ask why I am going on about an itinerary, but it wasn’t just the cruise — it was the culture of the engaged employees who delivered a sense of welcome, happy-to-oblige helpfulness and genuine courtesy on all levels that was so alluring.

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How would your store or your employees compare to that kind of service? When I came back, I immediately had the discussion of “Customer Magic” with my team. A cruise salesperson has a very limited window of opportunity to engage a client, exchange pertinent information, and then together create a satisfying outcome. Most of what they will achieve depends on their presentation, execution of interests and the level of engagement that ensures they have transformed this individual into a loyal customer who will return for another round — not unlike a new customer coming into your store on a virgin excursion, exploring to see if you have what they need.

Did you greet them happily or meet them at the door? Did you engage with a smile and genuinely helpful attitude? Did you give a sincere compliment as an icebreaker? Did you extract the information required to make their experience feel welcoming and helpful by asking open-ended questions? Could you satisfy their expectations or meet their needs efficiently? What did you do that would gain their trust? Ultimately, in this limited engagement, did you earn their loyalty?

Every customer, every time, needs the red carpet treatment if you intend to catapult your store to the forefront from the plethora of retail choices. With a limited window of opportunity, presented from five to 50 times a day depending on your traffic flow, are you making the most of each customer interaction? How are you training your sales team to be guardians of guaranteed customer loyalty and to do what needs to be done to make this a great experience? On every level, from owner to salesperson to jeweler to gift wrap, is this a cohesive team helping to insure that each customer is fulfilled, and thus will return in the future?

Wish lists, rapid repairs, quality merchandise, free inspections and creature comfort amenities create an exchange that resonates with your clientele, and then they share with their peers. How would you rate your store on the “Customer Magic” scale?

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