Sterling Forever’s Mike Cooke Talks About the Fake Engagement Ring Trend
Article presented by Rachel Johnson
Celebrity engagements always draw attention. When Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck got back together in 2022, however, the news skyrocketed an unexpected item into the eye of the public – the engagement ring.
It was no ordinary ring, with a rare green diamond and a romantic inscription inside the band. But with the coverage broadening to include all the other engagement rings Lopez has received over the years, it was clear it was about something more.
People love engagement rings, but the traditions behind them are changing for many. People are not spending their three months’ salaries on the ring, and couples are increasingly shopping for rings together.
And then there’s the fake engagement ring trend.
“Fake engagement rings don’t account for a significant portion of our business, under ten percent, and we only sell them on our e-commerce site,” says Mike Cooke of Sterling Forever. “Still, we sell quite a few engagement rings every day. A lot of people buy them.”
With more than 200,000 packages shipped from their warehouse last year, the number of engagement rings sold by Sterling Forever has to be staggering. And when the company released a video about it on its TikTok channel, it hit a nerve, starting a conversation about fake engagement rings.
What Is a Fake Engagement Ring?
Fake engagement rings are made from less precious materials than the ones customarily used in engagement rings. For example, Sterling Forever uses cubic zirconia and sterling silver or brass to make theirs, whereas diamonds and gold or platinum metal would be the traditional choice.
Sterling Forever’s rings are designed in-house to look beautiful. The choice of materials makes a huge difference in pricing. Fake engagement rings are more affordable, and as long as the seller and the end recipient are honest about what they’re made of, there’s nothing wrong with buying one.
Sterling Forever also ensures that all its products are of the highest quality.
“We have a lifetime guarantee on every piece that we sell. It doesn’t matter if people buy in on our site or through Nordstrom, Macy’s, wherever,” says Mike Cooke. “If anything happens to it, and someone reaches out to our customer service department, we take care of that customer.”
The Changing Rules of Engagement Rings
While it would be hard to determine just how popular fake engagement rings are, they certainly fit with the current trends in the engagement ring market. For example, the price of the average engagement ring has fallen from $7,819 in 2018 to $3,756 in 2020, Brides.com reported.
On the other hand, the Knot found that while the average engagement ring in 2021 cost $6,000, a third of their survey’s respondents spent between $4,000 and $1,000, with 8% spending even less. This can happen if a couple has different priorities, or if they want to get engaged but want to save the funds for other life goals.
“We see a lot of people that aren’t ready to invest or don’t have the funds to but want to get engaged,” Mike Cooke says, explaining the type of customer interested in fake engagement rings. “It happens all the time.”
A Handy Deterrent
There’s also a more sinister reason why people might be interested in feigning being engaged. In talks about fake engagement rings, it often gets brought up that many customers are women who use them to discourage unwanted attention at work.
Unfortunately, this aligns with current statistics. For example, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) just under two-thirds of workplace harassment charges are filed by women. In cases of sexual harassment, it’s closer to four-fifths.
Mike Cooke saw Sterling Forever’s rings being used as a deterrent.
“We had a customer that constantly was getting hit on. She’s not single, and she just wanted to have a few to get people to stop,” he says. It’s not a perfect solution, but it works.”
People can also opt for fake engagement rings for any number of other reasons. For example, some might choose not to support the production and procurement practices behind the diamond industry.
They might also want a design or color choice that isn’t available with natural diamonds. Either way, the “fake” part doesn’t have to play a significant role if the parties involved are in agreement.