By Brecken Branstrator
For those looking for an antique engagement ring, Art Deco styles still reign supreme, Danielle Miele of Gem Gossip said during Wednesday’s AGS Conclave panel on bridal styles. This two-tone Art Deco-inspired ring from Just Jules features three rose-cut diamonds set in 14-karat gold ($4,400).

Washington, D.C.--Today’s bridal consumers are finding new ways to shop and plan for the big day, from brides making hints about what rings they want to “pre-shopping” on social media.

At AGS Conclave in Washington, D.C. Wednesday, a panel of three individuals who are plugged into the bridal market discussed where jewelers can find these soon-to-be-engaged customers and how to reach them, as well as which engagement rings styles are trending.

National Jeweler Editor-in-Chief Michelle Graff moderated the discussion, asking questions of panelists Danielle Miele of the blog Gem Gossip, Stacy Tasman Stahl, founder of, and Desiree Hanson from The NPD Group.

Here are six key takeaways they shared with the audience.

1. Customers want something different, unique or custom.
This is especially true in the antique market, Miele said. All these adjectives pertain to antique rings, which are becoming more popular among younger women who definitely don’t want the same ring that their friend has.

“I’ve talked to dealers that can’t keep diamond cluster rings in stock,” Miele said. Also becoming more popular are Victorian- and Edwardian-era styles, while Art Deco continues to “reign supreme.”

In the contemporary jewelry market, meanwhile, Stahl said that she’s seeing a lot of “stories” behind the rings, whether they have a family history or special story about the groom picking out the stone or designing the ring. Additionally, a majority of engaged couples are telling their proposal stories on social media with family and friends, giving retailers a unique opportunity to be a part of that process and get their name out there.

Hanson said that The NPD Group finds that round diamonds continue to dominate, making up two-thirds of sales. Princess cuts are in second but losing market share, likely to the growth of rounds.

Fancy shapes, she added, still make up just a small part of the market but radiant cuts and pear shapes are on the rise.

2. Social media and influencers are helping drive the trends.
While Miele said she thought that customers’ desire to post a special, unique ring online for their family and friends to see was driving certain trends, Stahl said “influencers”--bloggers or popular Instagram users focusing on style and fashion--have something to do with what brides are looking for these days.

This can provide an opportunity for jewelers in their local market.

It’s important for jewelers to reach out to the influencers in their area to inquire about a possible partnership or coverage, Stahl said.

3. The average engagement ring price probably is approximately $6,000.
A survey from The Knot last year found that the average price of an engagement ring these days is near $6,000.

Hanson said given what they are seeing regarding the average price paid for loose diamonds, $6,000 is likely a correct average for the independents and chains (not mass-market retailers) that NPD Group tracks.

Stahl agreed that the $6,000 figure is likely accurate, adding that since she’s seeing more women looking for either a branded ring that can offer a special look or custom, they’re willing to pay a little more for that value, driving prices upward.

4. Brides are telling their significant others exactly what they want.
Stahl and Miele, both of whom got married within the past year, talked about being very clear with their now husbands before they got engaged about exactly what they wanted, which is something many women are doing these days.

This is especially true on social media, where they might tag friends and boyfriends in pictures of rings to help “clue them in,” Stahl said, making it even more important for jewelers to have strong social channels that show their jewelry.

Instagram is the obvious leader for this, but Facebook also is a good network, as is Pinterest, where many women are creating wedding planning boards.

5. Harnessing social media trends can help attract followers and customers.
Hashtags can be a great way to find customers who are looking for engagement rings.

On Instagram, jewelers need to utilize hashtags that have a significant amount of posts tied to them so that people can find their way to the store’s account.

A big one these days to catch women in their wedding planning process is #weddingwednesday.

 Miele has also created one for her blog, #showmeyourrings. Stahl said that many bridal bloggers create their own hashtags, so jewelers should find the ones in their local markets and figure out what hashtags they are using.

6. Customers should be engaged even after the ring has been purchased.
After the engagement ring has been purchased, hold events that will engage both parties in the couple.

Hanson talked about an event organized by one retailer called Battle of the Bands, where they invited local bands to  play and emphasized wedding band sales.

“Consumers want a different buying experience,” Hanson said. “If it’s forgettable, they probably won’t come back.”

Along the same lines, Stahl said she believes men’s wedding bands are a missed sales opportunity for many jewelers.

Rather than letting them forget about it and just order the band online later, be sure to let grooms know when they’re in buying an engagement ring that the store is prepared to help them with their needs in that area as well.

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