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The demand for diamond jewelry in the U.S. rose 5% in 2018 to $36 billion, representing slightly less than half of worldwide sales for that category. But, beyond the strong sales gains, new research conducted by De Beers reveals that the demand for diamond jewelry as a gift to mark special occasions — including female self-gifting — now outweighs demand directly related to weddings.
This is why De Beers will be devoting a sizable chunk of its $170 million-plus marketing budget in 2019 to capitalize on the growing purchasing power of women.
A quick peek at the Real Is a Diamond channel on YouTube shows a playlist under the title "Women on the Diamonds They Bought Themselves." Each of the vignettes tells the story of a woman who has achieved a milestone in her life — a milestone that deserved to be commemorated with an important piece of diamond jewelry, such as a diamond pendant, diamond fashion ring or tennis bracelet.
The De Beers study also revealed that the share of women who bought their own engagement ring doubled from 7% to 14% over the five-year period ending in 2017. What's more, women tended to outspend men on the engagement ring purchase — $4,400 vs. $3,300.
Above all, the study concluded that the public still believes that diamonds symbolize love. About 72% of U.S. brides receive diamond engagement rings, a percentage that has remained steady for the past 10 years, according to Esther Oberbeck, group head of strategy at De Beers.
Despite the general assumption that millennials are less interested in traditional diamond engagement rings, the statistics prove out that they purchase diamond engagement rings at the same rate that other generations do. In fact, they tend to spend more per ring because they prefer branded items. Branded products now account for 40% of the total value of U.S. engagement rings, up 10 percentage points from 2015.
The study also revealed that the total diamond caratage of an average ring increased from 1 carat in 2013 to 1.7 carats in 2018, although center stones were trending smaller. This seems to point to brides preferring engagement rings with more elaborate settings.
Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com/Real Is a Diamond.