The Next Generation Is Rewriting the Rules of Jewelry Style

May 24, 2023  |  Isabella Yan  |  SPONSORED BY: RDI Diamonds
Bea Bongiasca 9-karat gold and enamel B Flower earrings.

Gen Z jewelry shoppers are proving to be more experimental than their forbears. Unbeholden to stiff sartorial codes, these renegades are wearing jewels in original ways that feel authentic to them.

Historically, natural diamonds have been associated with elite society, and an exclusive and opulent lifestyle. Today, Gen Z has a more fluid and inclusive mentality on diamonds and jewelry. Paola De Luca, CEO at The Futurist, and co-founder and creative director of Trendvision, explains that “more work has to be done in changing and repositioning diamonds from an exclusive approach to an inclusive one.”

Born between 1997 and 2012, Gen Z, like any generation, is diverse and has a wide range of interests and styles. Social media channels like TikTok and Instagram Reels have evolved into virtual microcosmos where aesthetics, ideas, and taste can be developed and discovered.

The vast exposure to information has given rise to a paradoxical mix of aesthetics and influences, resulting in a highly experimental and original look. De Luca explains: “The world is changing, with clear disruptions in terms of values, communications, and communities. There are many diverse subgroups represented in the new world and, therefore, the natural- diamond industry should embrace the change.”

Repositioning diamonds to appeal to Gen Z requires a fresh and authentic approach that resonates with their values, preferences, and lifestyle. Ethical and sustainable sourcing, customization, originality, inclusivity, digital marketing, affordability, influencer collaborations, and social media engagement, characterize the expectations of Gen Z consumers.

The Natural Diamond Council’s January 2021 diamond desirability report, which analyzed millennial and Gen Z attitudes to natural diamond jewelry in the US, revealed that for female purchasers of diamond jewelry, design was the most important consideration when making a purchase for themselves, followed by versatility, and long-term style and value.

B-Boy necklace by Boochier in 18-karat gold with Akoya pearls, diamonds and neon enamel beads. (Boochier)

Gen Z Jewelry: Freedom to explore

The mindset around jewelry adornment and styling has changed. Gen Z’s daring and rule-breaking attitude to jewelry styling is expressed through their willingness to experiment with unconventional piercings, materials, pairings, and customization.

“Gen Zs are pro-layering, whether it’s color-pop rings, mixed-metal body chains or a major pearl ear party,” says Yael Fraynd, president of public relations firm YaYa Publicity. Layering and stacking combines multiple pieces of jewelry together to achieve a stylish and multi-dimensional effect. Francesca Simons, a fine jewelry publicist based in New York, adds: “The goal is to create a style that doesn’t follow any rules and gives us the freedom to explore in edgy ways that feel confident to the wearer. The ‘no-rules’ jewelry trend!”

A new generation of red-carpet stars and influencers are endorsing this trend. Fraynd explains: “These celebrities and tastemakers truly set the standard for what is ‘of the moment’ and I’m always amazed at the interpretations that follow.”

In fact, there is an overall unstructured and nonchalant approach to wearing diamonds, where people are not afraid to mix and match pieces with casual jeans and everyday styles. Y2K fashion is also undeniably one of the biggest trends to reemerge in recent years, offering an unconventional aesthetic that resonates with Gen Z’s values and tastes for self-expression, sustainability, and creativity. The prevailing look is youthful, fun-loving and light, invoking a 90s wave of millennial nostalgia.

Silver, 14-karat gold and diamond curb chain bracelet by Sylva & Cie. (Sylva & Cie)

Non-traditional diamond cuts, such as pear, marquise, or trillion, can be appealing to Gen Z as they seek distinctive and standout pieces that set them apart from the crowd. Fraynd explains that innovation is essential.

“A distinctive diamond cut and setting could turn heads, even diamonds placed in unexpected positions and designs throughout the piece of jewelry,” she says. “Transparency and openness is key, from the diamond’s origin to product materials.”

Simons also believes that “incorporating a diamond addition will bring that sparkle and dazzling effect to
the look, and also gears to an older demographic than the Gen Z generation.”

Jewelry collections are marketed and sold to young consumers differently. De Luca affirms that a shift from matching sets to isolated individual pieces offers flexibility for mixing and matching. “It’s about creating versatile, lightweight diamond products that can be layered, puzzled up, and stacked,” she says.

Affordable aesthetics

As natural diamonds may not be within the current remits of much of Gen Z’s spending power,
these 10- to 26-year-olds are likely to start off with playful alternatives such as crystal diamanté, rhinestones or cubic zirconia pieces before graduating to diamond-set versions as they grow older. According to Simons, “Showing affordable pricing in natural diamonds is the best way to target this price-conscious generation.

Gen Z consumers focus on versatility, style, original design, and value.”

De Luca says price inclusivity doesn’t mean natural diamonds should be sold at a lower price, but rather that each purchase is made special for the new multi-generational consumer.

In line with Gen Z’s price sensitivity, silver has reigned supreme in recent times. Both the Spring/Summer 2023 and Fall/Winter 2023 runways confirmed silver is the metal for the next seasons ahead. “It is fresh yet nostalgic and the perfect introduction into investment purchasing,” says Fraynd.

Simons is personally thrilled to see this shift in the jewelry game. Citing the influence of runway looks on ready-to-wear brands, she notes that the current Gen Z is gravitating towards statement, bold and chunky styles in sterling silver. “Whether it’s structured or fluid jewels, we are also seeing a lot of oversized silver earrings, bangles, cuffs, silver and white-gold chain necklaces, hoop earrings, as well as enlarged rings.”

This article is from RDI Diamonds’ June Gem Z special report. View other articles here.

Main image: 9-karat gold and enamel B Flower earrings. (Bea Bongiasca)


Bea Bongiasca 9-karat gold and enamel B Flower earrings. The Next Generation Is Rewriting the Rules of Jewelry Style

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