By Michelle Graff
Michelle-blogThe stock market also reacted. Investment research firm Schaeffer’s reported that same afternoon that Blue Nile, Signet and Tiffany & Co. stock all had risen following the ruling.

While I don’t doubt that the Supreme Court’s decision will have nothing put a positive effect both on the jewelry industry and in general, I found myself wondering exactly how much of an impact the industry is in for, and where it will hit.

So I turned to the always reliable Ken Gassman (who is just never going to get to retire) and asked him to pull some figures on just how much of a lift jewelers can expect from the ruling. I also talked to a few jewelers in Texas, a large state with a diverse population and one of the states where same-sex marriage remained outlawed up until late last month.

According to Gassman, averaging numbers from different sources shows that there are about 750,000 same-gender households in the United States, while UCLA’s Williams Institute puts that number closer to 1 million.

Either way, it is a small percentage of total U.S. households, which number 126 million, and it means a very small amount of weddings every year when compared with the overall population.

There are a few other factors to consider as well.
1) I didn’t realize this until I did some reading on the weekend following the ruling but, prior to June 26, there only were 13 states where same-sex marriage hadn’t been legalized. To put it another way, same-sex marriage already was legal across three-quarters of the country.

2) Some same-sex couples in those 13 states already are married, having crossed state lines to tie the knot, or consider themselves married and, thus, already have exchanged wedding jewelry.

I know this is just one example, but two very good friends of mine who live in Georgia exchanged beautiful diamond rings years ago. While they are thrilled to have the chance to make it official, my friends long have considered themselves wife and wife. They didn’t need to wait for any court to tell them it was OK to buy each other a diamond.

The jewelers I talked to in Texas confirmed the same. Same-sex couples have been buying commitment jewelry for them from years, either because they drove to another state to get hitched or because they didn’t need a legal ruling to do the same thing so-called straight couples do all the time—exchange jewelry to demonstrate their love for each other.

Dan Schweiterman, of C. Kirk Root Jewelry in the very liberal Texas town of Austin, said his store always has been a supporter of the gay community. They’ve been selling jewelry to same-sex couples for the last four or five years, as couples traveled to other states to get married or wanted rings to show they were together, married or not.

He said while he hasn’t seen a “huge jump” in business right away, he hopes the ruling will boost his business over time.

El Paso jeweler Susan Eisen, also a same-sex marriage supporter, said the same.

She’s been selling jewelry to same-sex couples for years and noted that people aren’t “knocking down the doors” right now to buy wedding bands just because of the Supreme Court’s decision. Like Schweiterman, though, she remains hopeful that she’ll see a bump in business a little further down the road.

3) Some states aren’t going quietly. One Tyler, Texas jeweler I interviewed, Elliott Herzlich of Elliott’s Jewelers, said that the clerk’s office there is refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and similar reports are surfacing in other states, including this one about a Kentucky couple that ABC News published Thursday.

He said he hasn’t had any same-sex couples come in since the ruling but, to be fair, Tyler’s not exactly a diverse community. Herzlich said he’s only served two same-sex couples in the 10 years he’s owned the store.

But that doesn’t mean he’s not open to it. Like all the jewelers I spoke to on Thursday, Herzlich said he supports love and the freedom for people to marry whomever they like, and he is against discrimination of any kind.

“What if somebody said, ‘I don’t like short, middle-aged, chubby men who are losing their hair?’ (in my store),” he said, referring to himself. “I couldn’t go a lot of places then.”

4) Are jewelers just looking at a lot of wedding band sales? In doing his analysis, Gassman bases his final impact figure—about $150 million a year, or three-tenths of 1 percent of total U.S. jewelry sales—on the assumption that many same-sex couples will be exchanging wedding bands only. I think this is a hard one to nail down, to be honest.

It’s mostly true for gay couples, yes. (Despite the requisite article that pops up every year, I don’t really think the “man”-gagement ring really ever caught on.) However, my friends mentioned above exchanged diamond rings.

Also, as Eisen pointed out to me, it’s not just about bridal jewelry. There’s also birthdays, anniversaries and other occasions for which couples of all kinds can exchange jewelry, and more people being allowed to get married equals more anniversaries.

So, will this amazing ruling have an impact on the jewelry market? Yes it will, but not on the same level it would have when same-sex marriage remained outlawed across much of the land just a few years ago.

Like I said above, though, it’s nothing put a positive for the market. After all, it never hurts to have more love in the world, especially if you’re a jeweler.

Get the Daily News >
National Jeweler

Fine Jewelry Industry News

Since 1906, National Jeweler has been the must-read news source for smart jewelry professionals--jewelry retailers, designers, buyers, manufacturers, and suppliers. From market analysis to emerging jewelry trends, we cover the important industry topics vital to the everyday success of jewelry professionals worldwide. National Jeweler delivers the most urgent jewelry news necessary for running your day-to-day jewelry business here, and via our daily e-newsletter, website and other specialty publications, such as "The State of the Majors." National Jeweler is published by Jewelers of America, the leading nonprofit jewelry association in the United States.