Rapaport Magazine

Retail Rap

By Phyllis Schiller
Are Fancy Shapes Selling?

Gabriel & Co.
The 4Cs are not the only things that make a piece of diamond jewelry a sales winner. In an ongoing series, Rapaport Magazine explores the “3Ws” — what’s selling, what’s not and why — by going straight to the people who really know — jewelry retailers. Each month, we ask a sampling of retailers from across the country to comment on the important issues that are facing the industry today. Here is what they had to say when asked: “A study by Forevermark found women choosing diamonds for their engagement rings were split between rounds and fancy shapes. Is that true of your customers? Is it something that is more popular with Millennials?” 

   “The predominance is still rounds. We have sold a couple of fancy shapes, but I think to say it’s split 50-50 would be a stretch. We sold a princess, which I haven’t sold in a while, and an emerald shape, which I haven’t sold in a dog’s age, both to Millennials. But I think the term and the concept of Millennials has become overused a bit. I’ve been in the business since 1966. Kids in their mid-twenties back then didn’t have money to buy jewelry. Fast-forward almost 50 years, and we talk about kids between their twenties and thirties not buying more jewelry — well, they never did. And let’s not forget the Baby Boomers, because that’s where the cash is; we just have to interest them in spending it. And then you have the Generation Xers, who will have disposable income to spend.
   “We’re all chasing the Millennials, who have the least amount of money and are burdened with the most debt and probably still live at home with Mom and Dad. Finding something that’s uniquely theirs might bring them to an independent. But the cash is the overall denominator in terms of what they’re actually going to purchase.
   “I see the young man bring his parents because they might help him or guide the budget for the engagement ring and the young woman comes in with her friends and family and they’re looking for the style. Of course, they all say they want a good-quality diamond but they also say they want a 2-carat stone for $4,000. It’s a challenge for retailers today. I had parents come in with a young man the other day with a budget that I didn’t think I could meet. But I found three diamonds that did. I was so delighted to call them back and tell them — only to have the mother tell me she found three websites with better prices. And I tried to explain that there could be an SI1 that’s good and an SI1 that should have been an SI2 but the grader had fuzz in his eyes. Each diamond is different. But for her, it was about the price.”

   “Rounds still have the alluring factor for the majority of female shoppers, outselling everything else, although some Millennials and Generation Xers are into princess and cushions. We still sell a marquise now and then. Millennials go onto social media to see what the trends are and they all go to stores like Cartier and Tiffany. But at the end of the day, they may want what they want, but a lot of them don’t want to pay that price. We’re also seeing a trend of them wanting a nice gemstone and not necessarily a diamond, even though we point out that a lot of gemstones are softer and will abrade and scratch as they’re worn, unlike a diamond. But diamonds aren’t driving the business dollar volume here. You have to have a little bit of everything otherwise you can miss a sale.”

   “Rounds and cushions are selling. I can’t give princess cuts away any more. I haven’t had a request for a marquise in years. Millennials seem to want whatever you don’t have. I’ve had requests for uncut diamonds. It’s just very difficult to sell.”

   “We’re getting a little more interest in cushion cuts. I’d say cushion or antique cushion are getting popular. Millennial shoppers are absolutely looking for something different. It’s an evolving market. About half of them will try a fancy shape.”

   “Round is still king for us. We occasionally get people asking for cushion cuts, and every now and then, a princess cut. And recently, I had someone asked if he could ‘see’ a marquise. But we have sold some larger marquises for twenty-fifth anniversaries because that was the shape of the engagement ring.
   “My experience is that Millennials want to feel they’ve had a role in designing their rings, but they really want it to look like their girlfriends’ rings. I don’t know if it’s a Southern thing or a small town thing, but I’ll have more guys come in with their mothers than their girlfriends. In that case, we encourage them to look at their girlfriend’s Pinterest. I had a guy come in who had it all figured out what he wanted but then I asked him about his girlfriend’s Pinterest. He brought it up and there, titled ‘MY RING,’ was a round halo with melee in the shoulders. I was able to make him a hero by choosing what she wanted instead of what he had originally planned.”

   “Fancies have dropped off lately; it’s been mostly rounds. Millennials do want different shapes. In other types of jewelry, earrings, they’re going for fancy shapes. They’re going for ovals, that’s real popular.”

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - August 2016. To subscribe click here.

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