Engaged Couples Want “Highly Personalized” Ring Experiences
Yellow gold, oval diamonds, alternative center stones: The 2021 Knot Jewelry & Engagement Study reveals new trends for jewelers and highlights how bridal sales may look into the next year and beyond.
One of the survey’s key findings focuses on how couples are taking a “highly personalized approach” to engagement planning and buying—something jewelers may want to think about when it comes to working with people on bridal purchases, how they approach sharing engagements on social media, and what they stock in their stores and online.
The survey, which included more than 5,000 adults who got engaged in the first 11 months of 2021, shows that the more some things change, the more they stay the same. For example, 93% of couples still exchange rings at engagement, and diamonds are the preferred center stone in that ring (86%).
Shopping online also may start the purchase process, but most couples prefer going into stores to make the final buy. According to The Knot’s survey, 67% of rings were bought inside a store, and half of those purchases happened at a local jeweler.
Total engagement ring spend remained steady in 2021 at $6,000, in line with pre-pandemic spend in 2019 at $5,900. Ring costs vary by type of stone, with the average cost of a clear diamond engagement ring being $6,800, versus an average of $2,500 for a gemstone. Most purchasers said they stuck to their budget; about 30% said they spent more than they planned.
“With this renewed excitement surrounding proposals comes an increased interest in highly personalized engagement rings,” Shelley Brown, senior fashion and beauty editor for The Knot, said in a statement. “Oval diamonds, yellow gold settings, and alternative center stones like moissanite and sapphire are all gaining popularity, speaking to couples’ increasing desire to invest in wedding traditions that represent their specific love story and personal taste.”
For diamonds specifically, round (41%) remains the most popular cut, however, oval has seen a steady increase in popularity over the years (2% in 2015 to 19% in 2021). Shape and setting continue to be the most important ring features, while size has become less important.
The popularity of white gold engagement rings has declined over the years: In 2017, 61% of rings were white gold, and in 2021 it’s down to 45%. On the other hand, yellow gold engagement rings are gaining popularity, with an 11% increase since 2017. The average total weight of engagement ring stones is 1.5 carats, with one in four engagement rings coming in at over two carats in total.
Generationally, Gen Z seems more interested in man-made diamonds or non-diamond stones for their engagement rings, the survey found. Moreover, nearly one in four engagement rings in 2021 featured a center stone that was man-made, up 11% in the past two years, which The Knot says demonstrates “dedication to sustainability.”
Engagement planning is back to pre-pandemic time lines, the survey said. Most of 2021’s engagements were planned more than a month out compared to last year, when nearly 50% of proposals were planned within the month that they occurred. Additionally, more than 90% of couples shared their news on social media—something jewelers are also doing on sites such as Instagram and Facebook.
The Knot 2021 Jewelry & Engagement Study was conducted in November 2021 among more than 5,000 adults who got engaged between January 1 and Nov. 7. All respondents were adults aged 18–54 who provided their emails to The Knot Worldwide. Respondents were from a variety of locations around the United States.