A few months ago, The Economist’s Twitter account posted an article with the caption, “Why Aren’t Millennials Buying Diamonds?” The article cited the failure of the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona diamond to fetch the desired bid at an auction, among other reasons, to support the claim that millennials don’t have a love for diamonds anymore. The Twitter storm that followed The Economist’s tweet was hilarious, with responses all echoing the same sentiment – “millennials are broke, and that’s why we don’t buy diamonds, duh.”
However, as a millennial, I was confused. My anecdotal evidence told a totally different story. All of my married and engaged friends had diamonds on their rings, quite a few of my friends owned diamond earrings, and every girl I knew had a Pinterest board with diamond ring #Goals all over it. So, were my friends and I the exception? Do I only surround myself with diamond fanatics? The short answer is no.
The long answer can be found in the 2016 De Beers Diamond Insights Report, a document that outlines the future of the diamond industry, key economic factors affecting the industry, and past trends. It’s long – 51 pages to be exact – so I took on the task of reading the report so you don’t have to.
The idea that millennials don’t buy diamonds is founded in some truth. Millennials are better educated, but are less employed than previous generations, and we therefore face more financial hardship. Because of this, we often delay our “traditional life events” such as marriage, buying a home, and having children (The Diamond Insight Report 2016, p. 33). So at a glance, it makes sense that millennials wouldn’t buy diamonds.
However, according to De Beers’ research, millennials are the largest consumer group for diamond jewelry, and we haven’t even reached our maximum earning potential yet (The Diamond Insight Report 2016, p. 30). In 2015, millennials spent almost $26 billion on diamond jewelry in the four major diamond markets alone. In the US, millennial purchases accounted for 41 percent of the total retail value of new diamond jewelry. This is especially impressive considering that millennials only account for 27 percent of the population (The Diamond Insight Report 2016, p. 32).
A high percentage of millennials own at least one piece of jewelry (62%), and ownership rises as we get older. “Research shows that when they (millennials) reach demographic and financial maturity, they display strong demand for diamonds, just as previous generations have done,” (The Diamond Insight Report 2016, p. 34).
So, while we may struggle more financially, the significance of diamonds is not lost on us. In fact, 64 percent of millennial brides had already dreamt about their future engagement ring before they were even seriously contemplating a wedding (The Diamond Insight Report 2016, p. 42). We may be broke, but we still love our bling.