A Diamond is...For Now?
By Devorah Isenberg , Monday, May 23, 2011
When the DeBeers diamond company first coined the phrase “a diamond is forever” in 1947, they didn’t know that it would soon become the most widely recognized advertising slogan of the twentieth century. Neither did they know that in the twenty-first century, savvy consumers would start questioning the slogan’s confidence that a diamond ring could and should last forever.
In fact, although over 85% of engaged and married women now wear engagement rings, most of them set with a center diamond, fewer believe that they must continue to wear that same diamond ring for the rest of their lives. Nekesa Moody reports, via the Associated Press, that diamond upgrades are on the rise.
One happily married woman interviewed by Moody reports that although she loved her ring, and its pear-shaped center stone, as soon as she got it, she always dreamed of upgrading the setting to a more decorative version set with two smaller pear-shaped stones. As soon as she and her husband could afford the upgrade, she had her dream engagement ring custom made.
But while some women are upgrading their rings by setting the center stone into more elaborate settings, others are trading in the diamonds themselves for larger or higher quality stones. And more and more jewelry stores, particularly online retailers, are creating upgrade programs to make that possible.
At Whiteflash.com, a leading Internet diamond retailer specializing in engagement ring design and a proprietary line of hearts-and-arrows diamond called A Cut Above, a lifetime trade up policy comes standard with many diamond purchases, including every diamond in the A CUT ABOVE® line. A customer can send back the original diamond, along with its accompanying lab certificate, at any time for a full credit of 100% of the purchase price towards a trade-up diamond. This program allows young, aspiring customers to choose a modest diamond in a simple setting at the time of their engagement, secure in the knowledge that they can trade it in for something more substantial as soon as finances allow.
This trend in engagement ring trade-ins echoes the similar trend towards women being actively involved in the choosing of their rings as well. Although it is still primarily a symbol of the couple’s love, women want their engagement rings to echo their personal fashion sensibilities as well. And with celebrity magazines printing glossy photos of gorgeous diamond engagement rings worth upwards of $100,000, there is suddenly plenty of room to grow. Moody writes, “No longer seen as a symbol to be worn for an eternity, rings are being upgraded like some people trade in cars or remodel an aging kitchen.”
But unlike remodeling a kitchen or upgrading a family vehicle, trading in a diamond ring is often a significant, sentimental moment, which is why many couples save it for a significant moment in their relationship, like the birth of a child. This may have something to do with the recent revival of an ancient custom of the “pushing present”—a gift given to the new mother to celebrate the birth of her child. Although the custom fell out of favor for many decades, a recent surge in well-publicized Hollywood births may have had a hand in bringing it back. (Celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe recently received a ten-carat cushion cut diamond ring as a “push present”!) And what better to way to celebrate the expansion of a family than to take the wearable symbol of that family’s origins, the engagement ring, and upgrade it to match!
A recent Glamour magazine poll revealed that 81% of Glamour readers (who are often young and unmarried) felt that upgrading your engagement ring was bad manners or unnecessary. But over on a diamond discussion forum, commenters joked, “Where were we when this poll was taken? Busy upgrading their rings.”
For more specific questions ask our experts