Any successful jeweller recognises that the act of buying an engagement ring ought to mark the beginning of a healthy and long-lasting customer relationship. That initial engagement ring sale opens the door to a wealth of opportunities for bridal-related purchases. Wedding bands spring to mind but let’s not forget all jewellery adorning the bride on her big day, as well as cufflinks, watches and any other special pieces that her groom may wish to sport.
Friends and family shouldn’t be forgotten; bridesmaids, groomsmen and mothers and fathers of all involved also present sales opportunities.
According to the most recent Cost of Love survey conducted biennially by niche consumer magazine Bride to Be, the average spend on wedding jewellery – excluding wedding or engagement rings – is $2,913.
This represents a 10 per cent increase since the last survey, which was released in 2013. Inclusive of rings, couples now spend an average of $12,891 on jewellery in the lead-up to their wedding day.
While the study doesn’t necessarily reflect jeweller profits, it does provide evidence that the bridal-related jewellery category is alive and well, and Abrazi Australia and New Zealand managing and marketing director Julie-Anne Bosworth believes local jewellers should be pushing harder to capture it.
Bosworth acquired the local distribution rights for Abrazi, a ‘special occasion’ jewellery range heralding from Europe, after identifying a gap in the market for a branded offering that specifically targets bridal-related purchases.
“Jewellery sales for the wedding party have declined in fine jewellery retail stores,” she states, noting that a lack of quality product and appropriate price-points are two major factors for the downturn.
“History shows that people continue to spend money on weddings in difficult economic climates. Abrazi jewellery is offering a solution for the retailer to maximise on market share.”
Bosworth explains that the ‘I do’ retail stationery – a POS resource outlining the various people involved in a wedding and the jewellery appropriate for them – has contributed to add-on sales for retail stockists during the initial wedding ring purchase.
Ikecho Pearls is another supplier offering POS material as a way to help increase bridal-related sales. For example, the business’ latest catalogue includes a double-page bridal spread that has been designed so retailers can easily present options for bride and bridal party jewellery, according to Ikecho Pearls director Erica Madsen.
Madsen also comments that a rising number of stockists are placing greater focus on the promotion of this segment.
“Many jewellers are advertising via bridal magazines and related media – it’s an excellent opportunity to capitalise on the relationship formed with the purchase of the engagement ring. Making it easy for customers to easily coordinate bridal presents for the bridal party is a natural extension of the retailer’s services,” she explains.
While not specifically targeting the bridal market, Swarovski Australia and New Zealand head of marketing and communications Victoria Brown says the brand holds a strong presence within the sector.
She notes that recent bridal trends point to large necklaces and statement earrings with a strong focus on crystal embellishment, although timeless pieces such as delicate pendants and clear-crystal tennis bracelets remain popular. For bridesmaids, best-selling designs include the Bella and Lunar earrings due to their affordability and versatility in styling.
Timeless design seems to reign in the pearl arena.
“Whilst some brides have become more daring, opting for showpieces and unusual designs, most ladies still prefer the classic and simple styles that have stood the test of time,” Madsen explains, adding that simple strands and bracelets are perennial favourites as are pearl studs and drop earrings.
According to Bosworth, an increase in hair accessories sees tiaras on-trend along with crystal-chandelier drop earrings. She also says the supplier is set to expand its rose gold collection to complement the soft tones and lace overlays used by European wedding gown designers.
There’s no denying the prominence of rose gold in the wedding band category either. Most of the suppliers who spoke with Jeweller stated that rose gold was a major trend for women and men.
When commenting on wedding ring trends last year, Peter W Beck marketing manager Laura Sawade pinpointed the rosy-coloured metal as being particularly on-demand, and 2016 is no different.
“Rose gold in general is still very popular and that’s the case for bridal jewellery also,” she says. “Men like the look of rose gold mixed with a strong white metal such as 18-carat white gold, platinum, palladium or even titanium.”
Sawade says two major factors are driving this trend – the current vintage and rustic styling used in weddings and wedding fashion and the desire for individuality that exists among the new generation of brides and grooms.
Twin Plaza Metals managing director Victor Donovic also comments that 18-carat white gold teamed with 18-carat rose gold is the hottest metal trend within its current collection of men’s and women’s combination metal wedding rings.
Meanwhile, rose gold is making noise at men’s wedding ring brand Dora, according to local distributor RJ Scanlan & Co’s marketing manager, Chris Scanlan. “White metals, including platinum, palladium and titanium, are still popular but we are starting to see more yellow and rose gold rings (combined with white gold) being ordered,” he states.
TWM Co marketing manager Maria Ulas says trends coming through the most recent wedding season – September 2015 to February 2016 – were a stark contrast to the minimalist pieces in single metal colours that ruled the previous season.
“We saw a lot more fancy designs coming through, especially in the men’s category, and two-tone was very popular,” Ulas explains. “Interestingly, it wasn’t yellow and white gold blends but rose and white gold that were very popular for the first time. We also saw a lot of women’s wedding rings in rose gold – the most in any year actually.”
Noting other major changes in the sector, Ulas states that consumers – particularly men – are driven by how a ring makes them feel and how they’re able to personalise it rather than the cost.
The ability to customise is also a trend highlighted by Worth & Douglas head of marketing and sales Chris Worth who says customers often request alterations to rings, such as colour changes or different coloured stones.
Worth adds that the supplier’s new Ziro ring collection, which centres on a black, zirconium band that can be overlaid on various metals, is expected to be popular in the wedding ring category.
“While it might freak out the priest at the altar, feedback so far suggests Ziro will be very popular for wedding rings,” he says. “Men are becoming more discerning with their jewellery choices. They want their jewellery to represent their own unique selves.”
Other suppliers looking to feed the desire for the consumer’s varying tastes and budgets are also introducing non-traditional wedding ring materials.
Sawade says Peter W Beck’s Spectrum range, which launched in 2014, is another popular wedding ring option that taps into an increasing demand for colour. The collection is made from ceramic material in a range of pearlescent colours. An engraving option has also just been introduced.
In addition, Twin Plaza recently released a carbon fibre ring collection for men while TWM Co has launched a silver-filled gold wedding ring range after identifying a gap in the market for those wanting the look and feel of gold without the higher price-tag.
Scanlan is another supplier to have found success in catering to varying budgets.
“We’ve also had some very good results in certain demographics by implementing lighter models into our range. This means more of our designs are within the budget of a wider audience.”
Scanlan notes the average sale price of a wedding band has decreased in particular demographics, resulting in the expanding popularity of metals like titanium and tungsten; however, while jewellers need to be conscious of this, it doesn’t mean all consumers are looking for the cheapest option.
As Worth says, it comes down to providing choice: “We want our customers to have plenty of design and metal options so they can choose the ring that best suits their personality, relationship and complements their unique lifestyle.”
Retailers would be wise to aim for a similar goal in order to increase bridal sale opportunities and ensure that engaged couples are only really taking the first steps in what should be a long and happy life together with their local jeweller. There is after all, life after the engagement ring.
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