5 Ways Engagement Ring Shopping Has Changed Since COVID-19

A Shift to Online Shopping

Another universal COVID-19 change for jewelry retailers has been the once-in-a-lifetime migration to online sales and a need for virtual services. Brands like The Clear Cut and Gemist, who already predominantly sold online, were prepared and accustomed to both formats. "We were already selling 70 percent of our custom diamond engagement rings remotely," Landau explains. "Now, the need for remote engagement ring creation has accelerated! That's why we have invested in rolling out a platform to support the future of purchasing high-end jewelry virtually."

"Being an online-based company, you can say we were already ahead of the game," Fraser says of Gemist's direct-to-consumer business model, which also offers a one-on-one customization service called "On the Hunt."

VRAI is another direct-to-consumer brand that's benefited from the shift toward online shopping. "The pandemic has opened up the way that people shop for engagement rings," Mona Akhavi, the company's CEO, says. "Consumers who might have been hesitant to make such an important purchase online are realizing that they can get exceptional service through virtual appointments and feel confident about their choices." Akhavi points out the expedited timeline that VRAI's online services all allow for, too. "Customers can select their diamond of choice, pick between platinum, white, yellow, or rose gold, select the orientation of the diamond, design their band, add an engraving and receive it in less than two weeks. It is truly a personalized experience, and we have seen a notable increase in engagements!"

A personalized experience is also key to KATKIM designer Katherine Kim's business. "With the pandemic, I think a lot of couples are more open to the idea of creating their special piece virtually," Kim tells us about the shift to online. "They seem to appreciate the intimate one-on-one experience and that they are still able to be involved in the process from start to finish in the comfort of their own home."

A Live Chat service has been vital for Forevermark, where customers can speak to an expert. "To adapt to the social distancing measures of COVID, Forevermark retailers are offering virtual appointments, virtual events, and curbside pick-up for those shopping online and more," Rogowski says.

Zehrer notes a similar shift in strategy, including implementing virtual appointments with jewelry consultants to a one-on-one "Live Advice" functionality. "When we had to close our stores in March, we dramatically accelerated our eCommerce options for all our brands, and customers continue to embrace shopping for fine jewelry with these new options," she says. "We continue to innovate every day, leading into the holiday season." Additionally, Zales, Kay, and Jared have implemented virtual customization tools to create a one-of-a-kind ring and a "Visual Search" function that allows customers to upload a picture, be it their own or from Pinterest, and search for similar options. "[It] is easy to use and can be found by looking for the small camera icon on our sites," Zehrer adds.

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