“YES, VIRGINIA. SAY YES."
Diamond engagement rings (ranging from $500-$25,000)
Available at A.R. Morris Jewelers, 802 N. Market St., www.armorrisjewelers.com
‘Tis the season for social engagements of all varieties, but especially for the ones that start with love and lead to baby carriages. Bret Morris, second-generation owner of A.R. Morris Jewelers, expects he’ll soon be selling engagement rings to the children of people who he helped get hitched years ago. That’s a lot of family business.
On 21st century engagements: “The engagement itself is much more dramatic. I think guys are spending more money on what they're doing. I see guys doing bigger trips, bigger events, hiring people to make it a big to-do. And the ring itself has gotten bigger. But sometimes, a guy is sweating over the price of the ring, and in the meantime, you realize he's flying to France – he's spending as much on the engagement as he is the ring! That didn't used to happen.”
Tax free and custom designed: “Quite often, they’re coming in from outside the Delaware area because we're tax free. For a $10,000 engagement ring, you could be paying $850 in tax. So it's worth driving in. And we do a tremendous amount of custom designs, which has become really big. They may come in with a picture of what they want, and then ask, ‘How can I make it mine?” We do a lot of design on computer now. They come in, and then email them images, tweak them and play with them, back and forth, and the rest is done by email until you get the final product.”
On customer service: “We have people who are third generation getting engaged, where my father maybe helped their grandfather. I just had somebody, he lives in New York now, his parents did everything with us, and so they come down here. We do hear the stories, and it's pretty cool. And sometimes they even ask, "Here's what I want to do, what should I do?" I have two sisters in the business, and I usually default to them, and sometimes they'll script what the guy should do!”
On taking one for the team: “Sometimes we get slightly involved. If they come in together, there will be times where she's expecting the ring and we have to throw her off. Or I'll call and leave a message on a machine, email or text, with ‘I’m sorry, it's going to be another three weeks, there was this issue.’ And she's upset. She's upset with us, so he can throw her off. Sometimes, I'll say, ‘Hey, you can't let her get really mad, because she could be badmouthing us to friends.’”
When should a guy start this process, to get engaged at the holidays?: “Earlier the better. Look, I plan for the worst and hope for the best. I have to plan that they're going to take their time, be indecisive, it's going to have to be custom made. So I would have started in October, at the beginning of October … I'd really like it earlier than that. But I'll have people who come in this week – and look, we have a store full of rings, so we can do it. But if a guy's not sure, and it's a last minute thing, we will be able to get them a ring that they're going to be happy with, with the ability to change it or go back to the drawing board. We're going to help them get engaged, and we say, don't sweat this part.”