Retail Details: The jewelry market

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People have been wearing jewelry since well before recorded history. Tomb excavations have shown that ancient people wore jewelry made from shells, beads, gems and metals, much as they do today. Interestingly, however, the types of jewelry that perhaps get the most notice are engagement rings. In fact, it is estimated that bridal jewelry accounts for 18 to 25% of the total jewelry market in the United States.

Here are some interesting facts about engagement rings.


Did you know that the practice of giving a woman an engagement ring has royal roots? One of the first records of the use of an engagement ring was in 1477, when Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposed to Mary of Burgundy with a ring set with diamonds in the shape of an “M.”


Did you know that the sale of engagement rings went down precipitously after World War I? In fact, the value of diamonds collapsed in the 1930s. The diamond industry began a huge campaign to restore the diamond to its former glory and coined the slogan “A Diamond is Forever” as a way of encouraging men to buy their brides diamond engagement rings.


Did you know that in many U.S. states an engagement ring is considered to be a “conditional gift,” one that must be returned if the engagement is broken? The return may be required regardless of whether it is the giver or the receiver who decides to call off the wedding. Other countries have different laws: In England and Wales, for example, an engagement ring is a gift, and a gift becomes the property of the recipient unless the giver and receiver had an agreement that the ring would be returned if the marriage didn’t happen.

Did you know that the size and value of engagement rings did not decline significantly during the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009? Despite the crash of the real estate market, banking scandals and general uncertainty, earnest suitors continued to spend on average well over $3,000 on an engagement ring during this time.  

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