First time bridal jewelry shoppers have more than enough choices to contemplate today, with price points all across the spectrum. Lab grown diamonds, shortened to LGD are now widely recognized by even the least knowledgeable consumers, so the younger clientele know this product and consider this option.
That said, with plummeting LGD prices and its accompanying exposure, many Gen Z shoppers are shifting towards affordability in a ring plus bragging rights that their stone is all natural. LGD does afford lots of dazzle, so there is a robust market for this product to be sure. But natural earth mined stones still hold great sway.
We are witnessing many Gen Z shoppers – especially the first time bridal purchasers, leaning toward natural stones, researchers say. They can get that with earth-mined diamonds, but they expect to be getting smaller, lower grade stones to match their budget.
Zircon Finds a New Fan Base
Now, it seems, zircons are finding a love match with this demographic in particular. But knowledgeable collectors have had zircon on their radar for eons. Multi-award winning gem designer-cutter John Dyer reveals his customers have been buying zircon for years. “The most popular thing about a zircon is its dispersion and sparkle. That’s the primary consideration. Color is secondary.”
Back in the Art Deco era, zircon wooed earlier jewelry collectors with its rapturous hues and over the top sparkle. In those days, soft brownish pink zircons found favor with the jewelry wearing set. Fast forward to now, and consumers have developed an appetite for the rare and costly Padparadscha sapphire. With some zircon’s soft peachy-brownish pink hues still available, collectors are gravitating to the pinkish zircons popularized by the Deco era fans.
Where it’s Found
Known to other cultures for centuries, evidence suggests that zircon was an ornamental stone dating back some 2,000 years. Today however, commercial quantities of gem-grade zircon are produced in alluvial deposits from Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Vietnam.
Dyer sheds light on an uncommon blue stone he recently cut (pictured). “This blue zircon is somewhat unusual in that it is from Malawi and not Cambodia. Malawi shows significant promise for blue zircon as it seems to be the most color stable material on the market.” He adds, “However it isn’t producing large quantities of this so far.”
Where’d that Sparkle Come From?
Zircon’s highly dispersive characteristic gives it a tremendous ability to break light up into its rainbow hues. Zircon owes this extra dazzle to a pronounced double refraction. Thus the eye can see what appears to be twice as many facets and that much more fire in the stone, too.
There’s One Thing
If there’s any caveat with this jewel, it would be that zircon wearers need to be a bit more careful with a zircon ring as contrasted to diamond ring wearers for instance. Nothing out-performs diamonds in the hardness category. Only a diamond can scratch another diamond. Ranking 10 on the Mohs scale, it is the hardest natural substance on earth. Zircons, on the other hand, have a Mohs hardness ranging anywhere from 6.5 to 7.5 which is on par with other color gemstones used for jewelry.
So wearing zircons in rings requires the kind of care one would give to other fine gemstones like emeralds for example.
But the natural aspect to zircon keeps it on the short list for many young consumers or anyone seeking a genuine earth mined stone that’s attractive, scintillating, and ideal for personalization with its wide range of colors.
Royal watchers led the way for modern consumers to crave a more individualistic look for their engagement ring choices. The upper crust dating back many generations are admired for choosing stones other than diamonds for their engagement rings. Besides Princess Diana opting for an oval sapphire, followed by the Duchess of York’s impressive red ruby engagement ring, Sarah’s daughter followed suit by sporting a magnificent Padparadscha sapphire ring when she got engaged.
Pick Your Color
Zircon’s rainbow line-up of colors give loads of options to suit just about any preference a bride may have. She’ll say “I do” to a number of zircon’s gorgeous hues. What shoppers also appreciate are the stone’s transparency and their availability in larger sizes than their diamond budget might allow.
Seen in the Mall
Mainstream mall-based jewelers have embraced this trending pattern and are currently showing blue zircon and diamond engagement rings in their latest collections.
The Indie Advantage
But independent retailers have a leg up on this trend by being able to create custom rings for customers and a much more personalized experience. With stylish semi-mounts you already have on hand, you can recommend a colorful bespoke ring option for the bride to be. Who doesn’t want something that no one else has?
Pamper the Customer
Your customer may simply require a bit of tutoring if they aren’t familiar with this stone and its attributes. The big selling point will be the staggeringly beautiful colors available, plus its appealing price point. A bride will make a big impression with her unique ring. And you can gain a loyal customer who values the jeweler who took the time to suggest something genuine, beautiful, and right on budget while looking like a million bucks.