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Demand for diamond jewelry booms even as prices keep moving higher

Tim Grant, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on

Published in Fashion Daily News

Most of the money Biondo made from the sale of his stock last year also went towards purchasing the Lawrenceville home he shares with Zurick.

He grew up in Murrysville. She is a native of Buffalo, New York. They met at Duquesne University and have dated for four years.

"The first thing I did was put a downpayment on the house in April 2021," said Biondo, a manager at Aramada Supply Chain Solutions in Fox Chapel. "I continued to save and invest and sold some more stock in early September 2021, and made the ring purchase."

Green Tree-based financial adviser Newlin Archival said she advises people who want to buy an engagement ring to either pick up a side job or sell some unwanted items to raise cash if they can't put aside enough from their regular earnings.

Jewelry store credit cards generally carry higher interest rates than what banks and major credit card issuers charge. But it is best to avoid debt, if possible, for an engagement ring.

"Resist the urge to use your retirement account as a piggy bank," said Archinal, a financial adviser at 4Rivers Wealth Management. "Avoid taking a loan from your 401(k) plan or an early distribution from a retirement account like an IRA.

"Both options sidetrack retirement goals and come with potentially higher costs and tax penalties," she said.

Archinal also pointed out that under Pennsylvania law, an engagement ring is considered a "conditional gift." What that means is if someone gives an engagement ring to someone in anticipation of marriage, if the two don't get married, the property technically should belong to the original purchaser.

"While every question of, 'Will you marry me?' should take a couple down the aisle, sometimes it doesn't work out," Archinal said.


Following the trends

So much has changed in the engagement jewelry industry in 25 years, Douglas said.

"People have always been getting engaged," he said "But it used to be more traditional. You came in, saw a couple of sets — the men's and the lady's matching — and you purchased that.

"Today, there are so many web influencers and movie stars and people who are fashion trend-setters that if a movie star comes out wearing a pear-shaped diamond we notice this because for the next two months, everyone's calling asking for pear-shaped diamonds," he said.

The surge in price for diamonds has mostly affected the higher-end jewelry market.

"Anything that's two-carats or above has gone up kind of exponentially," Kotchey said. "The increases have been 10% here and 15% there. That's how it's been for the bigger stones."

The sweet spot for what most people pay for engagement rings is between $4,000 to $8,000. That's what 80% of people spend, according to local jewelers. The other 20% of engagement ring buyers pay significantly more or less.

"I've had days when a young man comes in and says 'I've only got $1,000 to spend. And we have those rings for him," Douglas said. "Then the next person will come in and say 'I want to buy a three-carat stone for $40,000. And we have that also."

(c)2022 the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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