Perhaps you’ve noticed that fewer couples are choosing to get married. This decline in the marriage rate has been slow, but it is a cultural shift that makes me uneasy.
The first reason for my uneasiness is that I believe marriage is more than a piece of paper. Something wonderful happens when a couple embraces a legal alteration of their separate identities to become partners for life. Marriage is a serious commitment, not easily undone.
Princess Pennie and I have been married for 43 years. “For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.” I believe everyone should marry their best friend and face life together as partners.
Our belief in marriage is such that 15 years ago we gave the world a free wedding chapel that hangs off the edge of a cliff on the outskirts of Austin, Texas. As couples approach the chapel, they literally turn from the path they were walking to step off the edge together. Standing in the air, they become legally united.
Chapel Dulcinea hosts more than 1,000 free weddings a year.
The second reason for my uneasiness is that I have been writing ads to help jewelers sell engagement rings for 33 years. Any jeweler who does what I’m about to describe is going to make a blistering fortune. Believe me, I know the diamond business as well as anyone in the world. I have Martin Rapaport’s private cell phone number on speed dial.
Jewelers no longer form a major part of my ad-writing business, but I love the work and feel a deep connection to it.
2019 seems to have been an inflection point.
I have spoken to more than 100 jewelers in the past 90 days and each has reported that their opportunities to sell engagement rings declined by about 9 percent in 2019. But they happily report that the size of the average purchase increased by enough to offset the declining sales opportunities, so their topline didn’t suffer. Fewer than 10 of these 100 engagement ring stores were my clients, but my clients are notable because they are among the largest and strongest in America.
Reservations to book Chapel Dulcinea declined by 9 percent as well. And it’s free.
A few weeks ago, I woke up with an astoundingly simple, big idea. My goal is to see every jeweler in the world embrace this idea in a worldwide celebration of marriage. The best way to explain the idea is to let you read this short ad-segment I am giving to jewelers everywhere. This information can be inserted into an infinite number of ads. Just give this segment an opening and a closing and watch what will begin to happen in just a few short months.
YOUNG: You’ll find the diamond of your life at [name of store.]
OLDER: We have tremendous values on BIG Anniversary Diamonds.
YOUNG: What’s an “Anniversary Diamond?”
OLDER: An Anniversary Diamond is at least twice as big as the one in her engagement ring.
YOUNG: Why twice as big?
OLDER: [Calls the younger person by his/her first name,] every diamond makes a statement.
YOUNG: Okay, what does an Anniversary Diamond say?
OLDER: It says, “I love you twice as much today as the day you married me.”
YOUNG: I like this!
OLDER: [Location details]
The limiting factor in the engagement ring diamond is that it is “one-and-done.” But a woman can have a whole collection of Anniversary Diamonds. Moreover, less than 2% of our population gets engaged each year. Now compare that to the percentage of America that is already married.
The potential for anniversary diamonds is at least as big as the potential for engagement rings and probably a great deal bigger.
The key to this idea is NOT to try to “merchandise” the anniversary diamond by mounting it in a specific piece of jewelry. This is the mistake that DeBeers has made for decades. “Anniversary Diamond” is a category, a concept, an idea, a blank to be filled in by the customer. How she decides to mount her anniversary diamond is up to her, or up to her partner if that is what the partner chooses. The thing to remember is that it is NOT up to the jeweler.
Pennie and I were married with a 1/3 carat diamond. If I give her a 2-carat anniversary diamond, I get to say, “I love you 6 times as much as the day you married me.”
Maybe she’ll put the 2-carat in her original engagement ring mounting. Maybe she’ll have a custom ring made for it. Maybe she’ll wear it as a pendant and choose a mounting and chain. Maybe she’ll attach it to a long needle and wear it as a hat pin. Maybe her two carats will be a matched pair of 1-carat diamond stud earrings. When people comment on those earrings, she can say, “These are my anniversary diamonds. Roy said they were 6 times as big as my engagement diamond because he loves me 6 times as much as the day he married me.”
How she wears her anniversary diamond doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that she knows for certain how much I love her.
Now that I think about it, Pennie’s anniversary diamond is going to have to be at least 5 carats.
Yes, I love the Princess at least 15 times as much as the day I married her. And I was out-of-my-mind in love with her on our wedding day.
This is an idea the world needs to embrace. There is nothing more important than letting your life-partner know you still love them and that you would happily marry them all over again.