Why bridal jewelry? There’s a caveat that Stephen Lussier emphasizes when marketing diamonds to millennials as a symbol of love. The industry needs to recognize that love may not entail the formality of marriage, the De Beers head of marketing stressed in an interview last September. Marketers must focus less on tradition and more on the underlying motivation for buying the diamond, he added.

The diamond industry has shied away from marketing bridal jewelry rings recently, taking time to figure out how millennials relate to the product. But bridal jewelry remains an important part of the diamond market, accounting for about 27% of diamonds jewelry sales in the US, Lussier estimated. Love-gifting outside of bridal makes up another 13%.

Still, the bridal segment has lost some traction over the last decade in the absence of any significant generic marketing, and more recently with the focus on encouraging female self-purchasing — the industry’s highest growth category.

Two surveys published in February suggest the time is ripe to revisit the bridal campaign. Spending on engagement rings dropped 2% in 2018, even as the average amount spent on weddings rose by 2%, according to The Knot. Meanwhile, research by The Wedding Report suggested that the proportion of couples buying engagement rings when getting married fell 1.1% last year.

There are some encouraging signs the industry is ready to reboot the category. Tiffany & Co. recently introduced its first new engagement-ring design in 20 years, and De Beers is planning a new Forevermark bridal collection and campaign for mid-2019, having focused on female self-purchasers over the past two years.

For its part, the Diamond Producers Association (DPA), an industry marketing body, is moving in the opposite direction. It just launched the “For Me, From Me” campaign, celebrating the pride and joy women feel in purchasing a diamond for themselves. Since its inception in 2015, the DPA has mainly been pushing the role that diamonds can play in relationships, even unconventional millennial ones.

Stimulating both bridal and female self-purchasing is vital for the industry’s survival. The diamond engagement ring is under attack from synthetics marketers and from millennials looking for unique experiences. There’s no reason the industry can’t provide those experiences.

In Lussier’s words, “Love is a powerful motivator for diamonds. It’s a misconception that millennials are not interested in that. They very much are. It may not come with the formality of marriage, but the need and the desire for love and commitment [are] still there.

It’s time for the diamond trade to reenergize the engagement ring market.