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Marriage rates are a record low, forcing the diamond industry, which for decades has relied largely on matrimonial jewelry sales to anchor the market, to rethink the way in which it markets it product. So the term “bridal jewelry” is out, and it is being replaced by the term “commitment jewelry.”

In the United States, according a Pew Research Center poll, half of adults ages 18 and older were married in 2017, a share that has remained relatively stable in recent years but is down 8 percentage points since 1990. The median age at first marriage had reached its highest point on record – 30 years for men and 28 years for women in 2018, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Od the about half of U.S. adults who were married in 2016, 7 percent were cohabiting, with the number of Americans living with an unmarried partner reaching about 18 million people. Indeed, according to a later a 2019 Pew Research Center report, large majorities of individuals from Generation Z, Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers say couples living together without being married doesn’t make a difference for our society.

The situation is similar in China, where marriage rates are also on the decline in China. Only 10.1 million marriages tool place in 2018, 4.6 percent down from the previous year, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs. The current marriage rate dropped to 7.3 per 1,000 total population in 2018, which is the lowest level in more than a decade. More than 200 million Chinese adults are unmarried.


In its recently released 2019 Insight report, De Beers does not separate commitment diamonds from the concept of matrimony, noting that it includes diamond engagement rings and diamond wedding bands or rings.

However, the report notes that a very significant proportion of “love gifting” is not related to the engagement or wedding itself and could include commitments made before marriage and during married life. “This reflects modern couples’ desire to ‘live love’ and to seek its expressions in everyday life gestures, as well as to celebrate women or their own achievements and not only for their traditional role in the family,” the report notes.

According to Insight, partner gifting before marriage in the United States represents about 14 percent of gifting, but in China, it is as much as 40 percent.

In the United States, Christmas is when single women are most likely to receive diamond jewelry as a love gift from their boyfriend, with this category accounting for some  31 percent of all acquisitions. It is followed by birthdays and Valentine’s Day.

In China only 12 percent of diamond jewelry is gifted with no specific occasion in mind.


Both China and the United States, the value of the love gifting market for diamond jewelry during married life in larger than the pre-marriage market, the Insight report notes. 

In China, it represents 16 percent of all diamond jewelry sales in term of value, compared with 11 percent pre-marriage. 

In the United States, it represents 31 percent of all sales, compared with only 5 percent of sale taking place during the pre-stage.

But there is a difference between the value of pre and post marriage diamond purchases between the China and the United States.  For, whereas more is spent on average per piece in China than in the United States pre-marriage, the reverse is true in the post wedding market. 

According to the Insight report, American wives receive gifts worth $1,730 on average, while Chinese husbands spend on average the equivalent of $1,320.