Jewelers provide that special connection during that first step right before one person wants to declare unconditionally their love for another. That first step is a moment of fear, a moment of excitement; it's a life-changing moment. It's a moment of extreme vulnerability when a person must acknowledge to someone other than themselves that they truly love someone else. Same-sex couples carry an extra burden of dread and fear of the initial reaction people may have when they first reveal themselves and their intentions to someone they are unsure of.
For far too long, the jewelry industry has catered solely to "traditional" weddings and very few jewelers understand the relationships shared between same-sex couples. It's not all that different, but an entire industry has been created around the idea that you have a beautiful diamond engagement ring, a matching wedding band and then a simple men's wedding band.
Entire sales classes were built to teach jewelry sales people how to go about selling the diamond engagement ring and then the men's wedding band. The industry followed suit to feed further into diamond engagement ring sales with very little thought to other types of rings that are equally suitable as engagement and wedding jewelry.
The Jewelers Equality Alliance, Inc. (JEA) provides modern training for the jewelry industry to truly learn about the LGBT population and its concerns. The Millennial Generation of customers simply expects the world to be accepting of same-sex couples, but this acceptance does not necessarily equate to an understanding. Yet, even though the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is an equal right for all Americans, attracting this new customer demographic won't be easy, without knowledge, support, and confidence.
Some jewelers have already figured out how to properly treat their same-sex customers when they are shopping for their wedding jewelry, relying heavily on a basic instinctual reaction and inherent good manners, but most really don't understand the dynamics and courage required on behalf of the same-sex couple to simply come into their establishment for such a momentous purpose. Jewelers will have to do more than simply say they are "gay friendly," they will have to change how they do business in order to present an inclusive shopping environment where same-sex couples will feel welcomed.
Many common jewelry ads and seemingly innocuous questions that sales associates ask are, at best, tactless, and in many cases, insulting or dismissive to same-sex couples without realizing it.
JEA was formed in early 2015 to help educate the entire jewelry industry about the LGBT community and the needs of same-sex couples.
The education we provide will be necessary until such time that there's no real distinction between how everyone views a same-sex wedding compared to a traditional wedding.