Serving thousands of plus size couples over the years, we have heard countless stories about how, prior to finding us, their search for engagement and wedding rings had been frustrating, upsetting, and even degrading. Far too many jewelers out there don’t want to try and help this underrepresented group for various reasons shared – “it takes too much time”, “isn’t worth the money to be made”, they want to protect their “brand image”, etc. But there is also a large part of the industry, specifically small, mom-and-pop jewelers that can’t serve plus-size friendly selections due in large part to supply chain constraints that have plagued retail fine jewelry stores for decades. But what are these supply chain constraints, and why have they blocked authentic supporters of plus size couples? Let’s dive in!
Fine Jewelry Supply Chain
For small, individual fine jewelry stores, the typical path for a ring to be created and placed in their showroom is as follows:
1. Designing & Crafting: The creation of a ring starts with a design team that works directly with the men and women at a crafting facility. These facilities are often not local to the jeweler and language barriers prevent an ease of direct communication. Once a style is created, it is then crafted in larger volumes and offered in large batches to any retailer willing to purchase them for resale.
2. Wholesalers & Brokers: Individual jewelers cannot purchase large volumes of wedding rings as offered by the crafters, and this is where wholesalers and brokers enter the picture. Brokers make commissions connecting crafters to wholesalers (adding cost), and wholesalers purchase in bulk and hold the inventory until it’s sold to any one of their retail client’s showcases (adding additional cost). While jewelers often don’t have to pay for the ring until it is sold to their end customer this “carrying cost” is baked into the cost of the ring that the consumer eventually must pay for.
3. Retailers: Once the rings make it to the showroom floor, they are ready for purchase by the customer. At this stage, individual retailers typically have a local craftsman for basic modification such as minor sizing. Although efficient, this process does not always align with customers’ needs for customization, including making a style plus size friendly.
Large Rings are Risky Business for Smaller Jewelers
Even though retailers can make minor adjustments for customers on location, more extensive customization would require them to go back to the broker or wholesaler who would then have to go back to the crafting facility. This can be a time consuming and expensive process and leaves room for error when the message is being passed through so many hands.
If the jeweler does go through this lengthy process and provide custom, large rings to the customer, they are not going to earn as much on that sale due to the added expenses they had to incur to have it created as a once off commission. They might also charge the customer additional fees to offset this cost. In addition, they run the risk of the customer seeing the ring and not liking it or returning it, which leaves the jeweler with inventory they could have difficulty selling in the future. And what about larger retail stores who are capable of working with plus size at a larger scale? Approaches other online jewelers take to plus size has shown to be inauthentic and misleading to couples, only adding to their distress and frustration.
No matter which direction is taken, it ends up not being a good experience for couples or jewelers.
How Does Mabel & Main Do It?
One of the benefits of bringing rings direct from the crafting facility to our couples is that we work one on one with the designers and craftsmen and women. This gives us the ability to make large rings and custom rings in less time and for a fraction of the cost as those having to go through the traditional supply chain. Because of this, we can offer plus size rings not only as standard, but also have a hand in new and existing styles to make sure they translate beautifully into plus size:
Inspired Designs: We used inspiration from some of the most sought-after traditional looks including halos, fancy shapes, and enhancers.
Diamond Coverage: With diamonds going down 60% of the band on most of our styles, whether you are woman’s wedding ring size 11 or 20, you will have maximum diamond coverage.
Band Thickness: We increased the band thickness of our styles to provide added durability and presence on a larger sized finger.
Easily Stackable: Our bridal ring sets allow for even bolder looks by increasing the width of the look as more ladies bands are added on.
Comfort tapers: Ensure curves and lines are beautifully stated, while accommodating on the bottom to ensure comfortable wear.
Gallery designs on the inner edge of the ring give the larger width rings an inner “flare”
There are so many facets to creating large ring styles and unless a jeweler has put the time and energy into learning these nuances and also wants to navigate the limits of the supply chain, they won’t be able to carry plus size friendly styles. Given our position and simplified supply chain, Mabel & Main is able to offer what other retailers cannot, and we take that responsibility very seriously, providing only top quality, carefully designed styles to our couples.
Learn more about our story or shop our styles now.
Written by Kelsey Forrest