CHICAGO -- The wedding industry is rebounding as the United States recovers from the pandemic. And with glimmers of normality in the air, more Americans are preparing to pop the question.
"We've seen a resurgence in both engagement ring and wedding band sales as couples start returning to normal life," Price Blanchard, chief customer officer and executive vice president at Shane Co., a privately held jeweler with stores in 14 cities, told CNN Business. Nuptials that were long postponed because of Covid-19 are finally taking place, with in-person ceremonies and large receptions filled with family and friends.
Fine jewelers say they saw massive spikes in demand and sales in April and May, following more access to Covid-19 vaccinations throughout the United States.
Sales numbers skyrocketed this spring for The Clear Cut, a New York-based engagement ring company that sells its gems online. Customers are on the hunt for engagement rings now because they can "finally travel" and propose on vacation, Clear Cut's co-founder and chief operating officer Kyle Simon told CNN Business. The company has been inundated with requests from couples who are "fighting for wedding venues," he said, and sales quadrupled in May 2021 compared to the year prior.
Mark Broumand, founder and president of Mark Broumand Inc., a Los Angeles-based fine jeweler, also saw a huge increase in demand and sales. "Love is what has really propelled everything" during the pandemic, he said. Sales are recovering: In June 2020, the company's sales fell by 40% compared to the previous pre-pandemic year; June sales for this year are 20% higher than they were in the same month in 2019.
Spending more on the rock
Millions of Americans faced devastating economic losses during the pandemic, but some workers who stayed employed - or had a partner who did - were able to save money. The travel shutdown and restaurant closures meant that some some people may have had more disposable income than usual.
"Between the forced spending curtailment during pandemic lockdown and multiple rounds of stimulus checks, many households are sitting on more savings now than they've ever had before," said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com. "As the economy reopens, 'revenge spending' means a good chunk of this money will make its way into the economy," he said.
Stephanie Gottlieb, founder and jeweler at Stephanie Gottlieb Fine Jewelry in New York, said that while couples may be opting for smaller weddings, they have "more disposable funds to be used toward the rings or jewelry to wear day-of."
"Our average price for our rings sold now has gone up substantially since Covid," said Brenna Lyden, founder and CEO of Everly Rings and East West Gem Company. She is also working with clients who are using money they saved during the pandemic to upgrade their current rings or getting entirely new ones.
Demand for diamonds
Pent up demand and a dip in production due to Covid-19 restrictions led to global diamond shortages during the pandemic. "I had a hard time gearing up the production to sustain the demand," said Katarzyna Zygnerska Rosales, founder and designer of Kasia Jewelry in Solana Beach, CA.
Many jewelry companies work with the Gemological Institute of America, a non-profit that trains jewelers and maintains the standards for diamond-grading services. The Clear Cut, for example, has all of its diamonds certified and graded there. "We are experiencing historically high submissions for laboratory services," Tom Moses, GIA's executive vice president and chief laboratory and research officer, said.
At The Clear Cut, "we've been seeing a lot more demand for the in-person appointments," and some customers are even flying to New York to come to the showroom and look at rings," Landau said, underscoring the fact that clients are confident enough to resume travel and ready to try on rings in person.
The demand isn't slowing down, and the sentiment is "increasingly optimistic" Bruce Cleaver, CEO of De Beers Group, said in a recent statement from the company.
De Beers, the world's largest producer of diamonds, is seeing "strong demand for rough diamonds," Cleaver said, a result of demand "in the key consumer markets of the US and China" and "midstream capacity in India returning."
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The video featured is form a previous report.