Company News

Engagement Rings Sparkle with More Customization

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — This wedding season, “dainty” is in.

It’s a trend that jewelers have noticed over the last several years as young couples search for that special diamond engagement ring that signifies their love for one another.

“We get a variety of different styles, but we’re noticing that dainty is very popular,” observes Adam Aebischer of Aebischer’s Jewelry in Poland. By “dainty,” he means many customers are searching for smaller diamonds arranged in a specific pattern. “There are a lot of requests for micropave set diamonds, while yellow gold and rose gold are also starting to make a comeback,” he says.

Micropave settings usually include a larger number of smaller diamonds fitted into a ring rather than one displaying a single stone. “They’re not as flashy, but have a hint of flash to them,” he says of the trend in diamond jewelry. “We’re seeing a lot of actors and celebrities wearing thin necklaces. We do very well with those.”

Often, customers today are looking for a more traditional diamond, Aebischer says, along with a design they can personalize to reflect their tastes.

“We can take pre-existing rings and customize them and walk through the whole design process with the customer,” he says. Many of the jeweler’s designers have websites where the clients can select the form, pattern and any engraving they desire through a computer-aided drawing, or CAD, program.

The holidays nevertheless remain the busiest time of year for the sale of diamond engagement rings. “This is a big time of year and an exciting time of year,” Aebischer says. “A lot of customers and clients want to personalize their jewelry, but this takes time in order to ensure the quality is great.”

While Aebischer notes that Christmas usually is the strongest period for proposals and engagements, a sizeable number of orders continue to come in through January and February, especially as Valentine’s Day nears. “Even in June and July we get some action in the engagement business as well,” he says.

Diamond engagement rings have a long tradition within European royalty – the first recorded gift of a diamond engagement ring was in 1477 when Archduke Maximilian of Austria gave Mary of Burgundy a gold ring set with diamonds in the shape of an “M.” It wasn’t until after World War II, however, that the diamond became the staple stone for a wedding engagement ring.

For this, we have to thank an inspired marketing campaign by the De Beers Co. and a creative advertising copywriter who changed the industry with the slogan: “A Diamond Is Forever.”

That copywriter was Frances Gerety, who wrote ads for De Beers at the N.W. Ayers agency in Philadelphia. Gerety tossed out the phrase during a morning meeting in 1947 to a lukewarm reception. Nevertheless, De Beers has used the tagline in all of its advertisements for engagement rings since 1948.

The message is so powerful that Advertising Age ranked it the No. 1 ad brand slogan of the 20th century. Thus, De Beers persuaded those just engaged that diamond engagement rings were a “tradition,” when nothing could have been further from the truth, especially during 1930s Depression America.

The message caught on and jewelers such as Aebischer’s have been swamped, especially during the holidays. “We sell a mix – from point-75 carat to one-carat diamonds are very popular – but we’re able to make calls on bigger stones,” he says. “We try to differentiate ourselves.”

Among the designers and suppliers the jeweler works with are Nadeli and National Jewelers based in Chicago and Gottlieb & Sons in Cleveland. “These are really great, fine jewelers,” he says, noting Aebischer’s is one of just nine stores in Ohio that carry the Nadeli line.

“2016 has been a great year for us,” Aebischer says. “We’re excited to see how the fourth quarter finishes out.”

Tom Duma, president of Thom Duma Fine Jewelers in Warren, adds that his business has done very well this year, too. “We just closed out on one of the best Novembers ever,” he says. “December is on pace for greatness,” he says.

While customers are trending toward more vintage styles, they are also balancing more delicate appearances with more intricate designs, Duma says.

“The trend today is vintage and customization,” he says. “If a client comes in and, for example, wants to blend white and gold together, they can create a one of a kind ring.”

Companies today allow the customer essentially to virtually “build” the ring on their websites, Duma adds. “This way each individual doesn’t feel like they’re trapped into a trend.”

CAD programs have become much more user-friendly, and the technology allows customers to view high-quality computer images of their rings before they’re ordered. “CAD programs have been out for the last 15 years,” he says, “but now they’re easier to operate.”

Providing the perfect engagement ring to a customer is essential to any jeweler, Duma says, because it’s usually a couple’s real introduction to fine diamond jewelry. That means that the jeweler can lay the foundation of a strong relationship with young buyers. If that buyer is happy, he’s likely to return to Thom Duma for anniversaries, birthdays and holidays, Duma says.

“It’s a big part of our business,” he says. “It all starts at the bridal case.”

Pictured: Doug, Adam and Alex Aebischer are members of the third and fourth generations to operate the family jewelry business.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.