By Anthony Costello, August 2017 Issue.
A study from the Williams Institute, released June 23, reports 547,000 same-sex couples have gotten married since the Supreme Court’s landmark marriage equality in June 2015. Collected data shows same-sex couples have spent $1.3 billion on their weddings, including ceremonies, wedding apparel and wedding rings.
Despite economic benefits, some religious businesses continue to turn same-sex couples away. Conversely, Robbins Brothers, The Engagement Ring Store, has made a commitment to helping same-sex couples complete their big day with the most visible symbol of their love – wedding rings specifically tailored to same-sex couples.
Robbins Brothers general sales manager Sharon Lehew (pictured) shared some of the latest wedding ring and band trends and reflected on the impact the legalization of same-sex marriage has had on Arizona businesses.
Echo: A recent study showed that same-sex couples have spent $1.3 billion on weddings since June 2015; have you noticed any specific trends since then?
Lehew: We’ve always had same-sex couples coming in and buying from us. We make our customers feel welcome regardless of orientation. The LGBT[Q] community is a tight network and when they feel comfortable they share the word with their friends and family. They share their experience and want to make sure their friends have the same comfortable experience when they shop for their wedding rings.
Echo: How has your business and/or clientele changed in the past two years?
Lehew: We have more couples excited about getting married. They don’t feel uncomfortable anymore.
Echo: When same-sex couples enter your store, do you take a unique approach to helping them select their rings?
Lehew: We have nervous couples with everyone. If they haven’t come to us by word of mouth, they’re not sure up front whether they’re going to be treated with the respect they deserve. We help them the same way we do with heterosexual couples that come in.
Echo: What can a couple expect when they come in to shop for rings?
Lehew: We ask them if they have a Pinterest and found something they liked on there, what they’re looking or if they have something on their phone they want to show us … basically we ask what looks good to them and help them from there.
What we do is work off of our tablets or computers, sit them down and ask them first off what they’re looking for, but we get them comfortable with the store. We ask them what they want to accomplish on their visit. Once we find that out, we discern what shape or styles of diamonds they want to look at. Most prefer to look at the style first – whether it’s classic, modern or vintage – because they want to find their own unique style.
Echo: What do you find that same-sex couples are most often looking for in engagement rings?
Lehew: Often it’s a carat or larger in many different shapes; emerald, princess, oval and rounds. Pear shaped has become very sought after as a center shape stone.
Echo: What hot trends are you noticing among male same-sex couples buying engagement rings and wedding bands?
Lehew: We’ve had a lot going for Tacori bands. Our Simon G. bands are popular with the white and the rose, all white or yellow and rose. Sometimes they’ll do closed band designs with the same colors, but completely different designs. They’re still individuals, but still want unity. I have to say our LGBT[Q] couples, especially the males, are not looking for alternate metals, but something that will endure the lifetime of their relationship.
Echo: And how about current trends among female same-sex couples?
Lehew: It’s very similar to any woman walking in. Our classics are still very popular, like the halos with the modern twists and vintage looks. Something they like to do is take the unique shaped diamond and add some engraving on the inside or the outside of their bands … Some of our ladies who don’t like raised center diamonds, they buy the wide diamond wedding ring [band]. But the majority of our ladies prefer the center diamonds.
Echo: What type of stylized elements are you seeing?
Lehew: Vintage with a mix of a milgrain border across the edge, or a scrolling or wheat design.
Echo: What do same-sex couples commonly steer away from when selecting wedding rings and bands?
Lehew: Ladies rings are only made in the precious metals. We have something for everyone, so everyone finds the type they want. Some people don’t like the openness of a ring, they want a solid band, while others prefer it. In the bands a lot of men do prefer the precious metals because of the longevity. We cater to everyone’s preference, and we make sure cost doesn’t prevent them from that, especially with young people who are working on a tight budget.
Echo: What are some unique requests you’ve received from same-sex customers?
Lehew: Custom work. I recently did one for a large 2 carat emerald and they were a combination of a couple different styles she was attracted to but there’s no other ring like it. A lot of our couples enjoy that they can be creative with us. If it’s physically possible we make it work.
Echo: What new trends do you expect same-sex couples to look for or gravitate toward?
Lehew: The E3 diamonds for one. They’re amazing: grown in a controlled environment to get better sizing and color options. You’re not messing with mother nature either by digging up tons of ore to get quality cuts so they’re much more environmentally friendly.
Echo: What’s one thing you’d like our readers to know about your stance on inclusion and equality?
Lehew: Helping couples in love is our mission regardless of identity or orientation. It’s important to ensure they’re getting the craftsmanship, quality and comfortability they deserve. It’s so important to make sure every detail is right. It matters, because it’s forever.
For more information on Robbins Brothers, visit robbinsbrothers.com/scottsdale.
Engagement ring trends among same-sex couples:
◊ Matching rings.
A great way to represent your union if both partners have similar tastes. Matching rings also symbolize a cohesive partnership.
◊ Two rings with one common element.
Two different rings with one common element that tie the pair together, yet still reflect individual taste.
◊ Customized rings.
Each partner designs each others ring to truly reflect their personality and style. This can include colored gemstones and metals, engravings and more.
Source: Robbins Brothers, The Engagement Ring Store.