Faced with the pandemic-spawned life disruptions of 2020, tech-savvy millennials and Gen Zers were quick to adapt to the changing retail landscape by utilizing digital resources in their quest for the perfect engagement ring.

According to The Knot’s 2020 Jewelry & Engagement Study, the limited ability to shop in person for engagement jewelry led many proposers to use more online features throughout the research process, such as increasing the amount of time spent researching engagement rings online (33%), connecting with jewelers via social media (11%), or even using virtual tools for online consultations with jewelers (10%).

The study of more than 5,000 newly engaged individuals (who got engaged between April and November 2020) analyzed how couples and their proposals were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic this year. One silver lining of the pandemic is that it offered many couples an additional chance to connect, as quarantine restrictions resulted in the majority of newly engaged couples (68%) spending more time together.

Due to social distancing guidelines and limited in-store appointments, proposers visited fewer retailers in 2020 (on average 2, down from 3 in 2019) and viewed significantly fewer rings (8, down from 15 in 2019) before selecting the one. Overall, the majority (63%) of engagement rings continue to be purchased in person at either a local jeweler (51%) or national retailer (33%). Nearly a third were purchased online.

Uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and the state of the economy only slightly impacted how much couples budgeted for their rings. Respondents said they spent an average of $5,500 on an engagement ring in 2020, compared to $5,900 in 2019. Engagement ring shopping in 2020 continued to be a collaborative effort for most couples, as 72% of proposees reported being involved in the selection of their engagement ring.

Here are some other quick takeaways…

• The most popular center stone cuts were round (43%), oval (15%) and princess/square (13%).
• The most popular setting materials were white gold (48%), yellow gold (16%), rose gold (13%) and platinum (13%).
• The average ring’s diamond total weight was 1.5 carats and the average center stone weighed 1.3 carats.

Regarding the actual proposals, 83% of proposers said they felt pressure to curate a highly unique proposal in 2020 (up from 75% in 2019), and nearly half of proposers had to pivot original plans as a result of the pandemic, from changing the location (67%) or date (63%) to involving their loved ones (52%).

Many proposers (48%) had to rethink their proposal plans, as the pandemic altered their original proposal location (67%), date (63%) and how the proposal took place (56%). Despite many proposers needing to alter their original proposal plans, the most popular proposal locations in 2020 remained the same as previous years: scenic viewpoints (31%), at their home (23%), at a place with significance to the couple (16%) and during outdoor activities like hiking (15%, up from 12% in 2019).

The study also revealed that newly engaged couples have an increased sense of urgency to kick-start wedding planning: 8 in 10 newly engaged couples have secured an upcoming wedding date, the majority of which will occur in 2021 (73%), and most (66%, up from 57% in 2019) started to plan their future wedding festivities within one month of getting engaged.

Credit: Image via Bigstockphoto.com.

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