If there’s one thing synonymous with Christmas all over the world, it’s giving gifts. Gift giving at Christmas is a long-standing historical tradition, tied to the legend of the wise men who brought gifts to the newly-born baby Jesus. Today, the Christmas gift shopping season is one of the largest events in the retail industry.
The Christmas shopping season is regarded as an indicator of the general consumer mood. After all, consumers are more likely to spend – and spend big – in keeping with the spirit of the festive season. In 2001, the average planned Christmas spend for the American consumer was the highest ever at $1052, whereas in post-recession 2009, the figure dropped to just $417. In 2017, forecasts predicted a better Christmas than previous years, however the public is still spending cautiously.
Diamonds at Christmas: The Spirit of the Season
Speaking of the season spirit, Christmas is a time when stories of kindness and generosity are everywhere. And often, they include diamonds. In British Columbia, Canada, a woman emptied the change in her pocket and gave it to a homeless man. Only later did she realize that she had accidentally also given away a sentimental diamond studded ring, which was in her pocket at the time… After publicizing her plight on social media, another homeless man took up the cause, and spread the word among the homeless community until the ring was located. The man who had mistakenly received the ring happily returned it to the grateful owner. It’s the ultimate Christmas feel-good story!
Royal Engagements…and Diamond Rings
If Christmas weren’t dazzling enough, royal watchers in Britain and the world over were enthralled by the diamonds worn by Meghan Markle, new fiancée of Prince Harry, to the traditional Christmas lunch hosted by the Queen. Already a few weeks before Christmas, the world was abuzz with news about Prince Harry and Ms Markle’s engagement, which included much commentary over the diamond ring. In fact, the global excitement over the royal engagement ring, which came as a shock even to the ring designer, prompted the designer to declare that they would not be producing any replicas – so as not to ruin the one-of-a-kind character of the sought-after ring.
Diamond Rings for the Masses Too
Never let it be said that the royals aren’t in touch with the masses. The hot-news royal engagement came at the most popular time of year for getting engaged. It seems that Christmas Eve and Christmas day are the most popular days of the year for marriage proposals, followed by New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Why? It probably has something to do with the festive atmosphere, the focus on family and giving, and the vacation vibe, when people are free from mundane routine. Of course, at this time of year, it’s jewelers who feel the effect of the proposal trend the most, when the mad Christmas rush meets the high engagement season. Typical jewelry retailers make up to 30% of their annual sales in the lead-up period to Christmas.
After Christmas – Predictions for the New Year
Once the Christmas craziness has died down, it’s time to gather, regroup and prepare for the new year. Often, the trends that dictated the Christmas gift shopping season are seen as harbingers for the next year’s trends. In 2017, the gift of ‘experiences’ gained in popularity. For example, concert tickets, which are a one-time experience rather than a physical object to keep or enjoy forever, were forecast as a popular gift trend during this year’s Christmas season. In fact, the notion of ‘experience over product’ is a much-talked-about phenomenon, particularly among millennial shoppers. How to turn the purchase of a diamond into an unforgettable experience is a challenge for jewelry retailers. An effective way to do this is to create a story around the diamond.
In the meantime, predictions for the diamond industry in 2018 are starting to roll in. When the dust of Christmas settles down, the picture will become clearer. In the meantime, season’s greetings and happy new year from Sarine!