Everything You Need to Know About Engagement Rings This Holiday Season

Engagement Rings Holiday Season analysis Edahn Golan
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One of the most coveted jewelry items are engagement rings, and historically, the holiday season is the most likely time of year to buy and sell these rings. Here are the leading trends for engagement rings for the 2023 holiday season.

Engagement Ring Basics: Diamonds and White Gold

When discussing engagement rings, we are primarily talking about diamond engagement rings. According to the latest trend analytics firm Tenoris, of all engagement rings sold in November, 86% were set with a diamond.

Engagement Rings Holiday Season analysis Edahn Golan. Photo by Bridget FloheAnother common characteristic of engagement rings is that the metal of choice is gold. The rare alternative is platinum. In fact, more than two-thirds of US brides preferred white gold for their engagement ring, usually opting for 14 karats.

These brides also maintained a distinct preference for round-shaped gems, regardless of whether they decided on a diamond as the center stone or some other gemstone.

It’s All About the Diamond

Until recently, when talking of diamonds, there was only one kind — the one provided and created by mother nature. However, today, brides have a choice and can select a diamond provided by science and technology and created by people.

These lab-grown diamonds, commonly referred to as LGDs, are gaining market share, especially among buyers in the 25-to-35 age group. With an average marriage age of 28 for women and 30 for men, LGDs are especially popular for engagement rings.

There are a number of reasons for this. Newlyweds around 29 years old are still paying off their student loans and are facing three major expenditures: their wedding, honeymoon, and purchase of their first house. All this, while still early in their careers and a couple of decades away from their peak earnings.

For these consumers, the appeal of LGDs is attractive as their cost is about 78–80% less than natural diamonds that have identical characteristics.

Another reason to buy an LGD is size. Because they cost less than natural diamonds, a couple can afford a larger lab-grown diamond. Some might argue that one-upmanship plays a role in this decision.

Therefore, 39% of couples have chosen to buy a diamond engagement ring set with an LGD.

The average diamond size couples have bought so far this holiday season is 1.32 carats when selecting a natural diamond – much larger than the about 1 carat preferred in the past few years. Of those who opted for a lab-grown diamond, the average size diamond they picked is 2.14 carats.

The Cost of Engagement Rings This Holiday Season

Price plays a significant role in the final decision of which ring to buy, even if the rings have similar characteristics. Therefore, two couples buying a white gold 14k engagement ring set with a round diamond can end up paying vastly different amounts.

The average expenditure on diamond engagement rings this holiday season was a high $5,678. This is well above the $3,200–$3,800 spent pre-COVID.

During COVID, expenditures on diamond engagement rings soared, peaking at an average of $6,619 in 2022.

For engagement rings set with natural diamonds, the average spend currently averages $7,266. This is one of the highest average expenditures on record for the US market.

Those buying engagement rings set with lab-grown are spending much less this holiday season: $3,035, or less than half.

The good news is that prices of engagement rings are lower this holiday season. The averages so far this year have been higher. Buying now offers an opportunity to enjoy jewelers’ promotional offerings.

The Characteristics of Engagement Ring Bought This Holiday Season:

Gemstone – 86% diamond
Metal – 93% gold
Gold color – 68% white
Gold alloy – 84.5% 14k
Gemstone shape – 56% of all gems and 62% of diamonds: round shaped
Diamond type – natural diamond: 61.4%, LGD: 38.6%
Diamond size – natural diamond: 1.32 cts, LGD: 2.14 cts
Average expenditure – all diamond engagement rings: $5,678
Average expenditure – natural diamond engagement ring: $7,266
Average expenditure – lab-grown diamond engagement ring: $3,035

Outlook

Engagement ring buyers will keep favoring diamonds in their engagement rings, and the trend of choosing larger diamonds is expected to last this holiday season. This is backed by both a growing appetite for lab-grown diamonds, together with a willingness to spend more than prior to COVID.

If you are interested in learning more about engagement rings this holiday season, including the challenges and opportunities they present or in expanded data not included in this report, then by all means, please contact us.

Photo: Bridget Flohe

About the Author:

Edahn Golan
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Edahn Golan has 20 years of experience as a diamond industry analyst. He has a unique ability to provide a global view with context to the exclusive granular data he shares. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Business Insider, and other leading publications quote him regularly.

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