How Same-Sex Marriage Makes the Engagement Ring Industry Explode

08/26/2015 10:44 am ET Updated Aug 25, 2016

A few years ago, when Diana Rissetto went with her friend to the supposed wedding-band-mecca, New York's Tiffany's and Co., to help him pick out perfect engagement rings, the woman at the counter could just not comprehend that they were looking for two men's engagement rings, after they insisted that they were the happy couple.

No N.Y.C. Tiffany's clerk would make that mistake today.

Same-sex marriage is now just called marriage across the U.S., and the savvy 51 Billion dollar wedding industry is celebrating as much (if not much more) than anyone.

Projections by the congressional budgetary office over a decade ago demonstrated that if same-sex marriage were to be recognized in all 50 states it would add about $1 Billion in revenue to the federal budget and more recent estimates are closer to 2.5 Billion -- That's a lot of custom Etsy cake-toppers. But the story of how hand hardware will fare is particularly intriguing.

The Midas Touch
In the James Bond flick, the evil Goldfinger's plot is to irradiate Fort Knox and make the price of gold skyrocket, but all he had to do was make same sex marriage legal and watch the profits roll in. Just the additional gold bought up will likely top $600 million potentially raising the cost of gold significantly.

Buyer Be Online
Many gay couples prefer to avoid any potentially awkward conversation with the local jewelry clerk and therefore more and more have been turning online to do their ring shopping. Retailers have obliged with improved online user experiences. Luxury jeweler Ritani, for example, allows customers to design their engagement rings online, have them made, and then delivered to a local jewelry store before paying for them. This eliminates the clammy-handed pressure of needing to grab a ring under the watchful eye of someone who only gets a their commission when the deal is sealed. In a further effort to woo gay customers, Ritani offers a helpful buying guide for same-sex wedding jewelry.

More More More... How D'You Like It?
In more music to jewelers ears, according to the Wall Street Journal, there is "some evidence that same-sex engaged couples are more likely to purchase more rings -- and more expensive rings -- than male-female engaged couples."

For lesbian couples, many retailers have zoned in on the fact that a lesbian wedding is a potential double payday. Jen Bersdale noticed the attention she received with her fiancé when they went ring shopping:

We were pleasantly surprised at how welcoming they were. Then we realized -- two women looking at big engagement rings pays much better than opposite-sex couples only buying one!

It should be noted that some same-sex couples don't splurge on engagement rings: indeed, they may not buy them at all. The WSJ article sites a survey by gay and lesbian market-research firm Community Marketing Inc. and the Gay Wedding Institute that found that just 66% of female and 19% of male same-sex couples purchased engagement rings. David Bryant says that he and his fiancé skipped engagement rings. According to David, it meant they felt they could be a little more spendy when it came to the actual wedding rings - so that's still a win for jewelers.

And for more good news, the same article sited a Prudential Financial study that found the median household income for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender families was about 25% higher than the average American home.

What Does This Mean For Opposite Sex Couples?
With everyone getting a ring to mark an engagement, no one wants to be left out. The trend of the Man-gagement Ring is rising in popularity. And couples agreeing to split the cost on engagement rings are also giving the industry a boost.

On the flip side, those who harbor prejudice do so at their peril. One jeweler was blasted in the press for selling a lesbian couple a diamond ring and then subsequently hanging an anti-gay poster in the window. Another reminder that discrimination isn't just illegal -- it's unprofitable.