I spend a lot of time looking at engagement rings online, and because of that, I get a lot of targeted engagement ring marketing. I am a 20 something in a long-term relationship and one of my worst qualities is my slightly obnoxious and financially irresponsible love of fine jewelry. So I like to pine over diamonds and other shiny things. My Instagram feed reflects that hobby, in both the ads that pop up and the posts that are on my explore page.
Scrolling through my feed the other day, I came across an ad that was so different from all the rest, it immediately opened my eyes to a significant hole in engagement ring marketing. This ad was for Brilliant Earth’s Mx Collection, a jewelry collection based on the idea of gender fluidity and jewelry for everyone. Even the name is inclusive, using the gender-neutral Mx instead of Ms or Mr. The slides had models of all races, and the whole campaign was just so accepting. It made every other engagement ring advertisement look deeply whitewashed and aggressively straight.
I started actively paying attention to the engagement ring marketing that Instagram fed me. I tried to remember to screenshot every ad that came up. What I found confirmed my initial suspicions on how jewelry companies are choosing to market their products. The screenshots overwhelmingly featured white presenting female models. I went back and looked through all of the rings I’d saved from ads or jewelry brand pages over the years on Instagram and Pinterest. Every single one of them was on a white, obviously feminine hand.
These are just a few of the pages and pages of screenshots of engagement ring advertisements and posts I collected. Of all of the companies I looked at, maybe three had any semblance of inclusivity visible on their Instagram pages. This is purely anecdotal, but it seems as though it represents a significant and meaningful gap in the way engagement rings are advertised.
Why This is Such a Significant Problem
White women are not the only people wearing engagement rings out there in the real world. Engagements are not exclusively the domain of white, straight couples. But based solely on Instagram advertising, it would certainly seem that way. This is the only demographic these diamonds are marketed for on any meaningful level.
It will be no surprise to any of us that the executives making these marketing choices are not prioritizing love and beauty. For them, engagement rings are dollar signs. As a society, we’ve allowed jewelry companies to flourish and profit while only marketing the unique combination of love and luxury that comes with engagement rings to white women.
Engagement rings are not just pieces of jewelry. They are symbols of love and commitment. They are status symbols. Engagement rings, whether we like it or not, mean something in our society. By only marketing these symbols to white women, these companies are implying—whether purposefully or otherwise—something deeply sinister. These marketing choices send the message that it is primarily white women that are deserving of these important symbols.
BIPOC girls like diamonds too. Gay couples like romantic proposals just as much as straight couples do. There are people other than straight white women out there rocking engagement rings. Jewelry companies and their marketing should reflect that diversity and encourage that equality.