Be Mine? Will Natural Diamond Rings Make the Cut this Valentine's Day?




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The Romans believed diamonds were the tears of the gods—

Maybe diamonds will soon be the tears of diamond sellers.

There's a new diamond cut on the market and it's not square, round or oval. According to a single-source study of 459 students at Rochester Institute of Technology, 45 percent of the women participants would consider alternatives to diamond engagement rings such as exotic vacations or purchasing furniture or a new home.

“We asked if they would consider alternatives like rings with manufactured or semi-precious stones, other gifts like bracelets or pendants, or other ways to celebrate an engagement without a ring gift,” says Eugene Fram, the J. Warren McClure Professor of Marketing in the College of Business at RIT.

Fram and Robert Baron, president of Superior Systems in Rochester, published their study, “Are natural diamond engagement rings forever?” in the International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management. They believe some of the findings indicate an infant trend might be developing—signaling a reduced demand for natural diamond rings to celebrate an engagement.

“And if other retailers and manufacturers, especially the travel and furniture industries, make concerted efforts to gain the attention of couples planning to marry, it could put a dent in the market share of those selling natural diamond rings,” Fram explains.

A social trend supporting this estimate is the growth in the number of American household pre-marital cohabitations, which increased from about tenfold from 1960 to 2000.

“Although the DeBeers' slogan 'diamonds are forever' still has a very strong market appeal—especially on Valentine's Day—there may well be forces in place that someday could modify the character of the diamond industry,” Fram says.

To talk to Eugene Fram, contact Marcia Morphy at 585-475-4951 or mpmuns@rit.edu.