Hallmark Cards Inc. has been in the special occasion business since 1910. This November it began testing a new kind of social expression.
The Kansas City-based company, in partnership with The JC Penney Co., has entered the diamond engagement and wedding ring market.
“This is a great time of year for engagements,” said Katy Briggs, jewelry category manager for Hallmark’s global brand licensing division. “We will look at the fourth quarter and first quarter, which includes Valentine’s Day, as a test.”
For now, the Hallmark brand — complete with its signature crown symbol etched inside the ring bands — is available only online at JC Penney’s jewelry site and in 30 selected stores around the country. The nearest retail site to Kansas City is in Springfield, Mo.
The new Heart of Hallmark Collection includes about 20 styles of engagement rings, including three bridal sets that include wedding bands. The collection, designed and manufactured by Verigold Jewelry Inc., a New-York based jewelry company, is priced between $1,700 and $6,000.
“We spent a lot of time looking at the competitive landscape,” Briggs said. “We try to bring great value and great prices.”
Generally, Briggs said, the starting point for most bridal collections was about $2,000 for the kind of cut, clarity and color that the Hallmark collection is offering.
“We went higher rather than lower on clarity and color,” Briggs said. “We’re trying to make sure we’re bringing a quality product to the Hallmark brand.”
Hallmark already has a branded jewelry line of silver and diamond jewelry — pendants, bracelets and earrings — online and in JC Penney stores. If the bridal collection pilot program delivers results, the goal is to expand into more JC Penney stores.
Print and online ads are supporting the product rollout under the theme “happily-ever-after is just the beginning.”
Briggs said the Hallmark touch is recognizable in the rings’ packaging: Each engagement ring box includes a small card “that allows you to commemorate your proposal story…date, time, where and how…on a card to keep in your jewelry box.”