Luxury jewelry brands tell us that when younger shoppers are ready to invest in natural diamonds, they are looking for designs that are simple, timeless and versatile.
Times and tastes have certainly changed, but the allure of natural diamonds has not. Indeed, the appeal of the diamond, one of the oldest and rarest natural treasures, stretches generations — all the way to Generation Z, the demographic cohort succeeding millennials, with the spending power to dictate the consumer trends of the future.
The demand for diamond jewelry among this tech-native generation is high, but as Lee Tucker, chief merchant and product officer at luxury jeweler David Yurman, points out, their relationship with the prized gem differs quite considerably from generations past. “Gen Z typically spends more time researching their purchases, investing in long-lasting products. They’re not afraid to voice their opinion and often go against the ‘norm’ to find designs that resonate with their own individual style,” he says.
Beyond this, they’re seeking out brands that share their enthusiasm for activism and social justice. “Our Gen Z jewelry clients seek conflict-free diamonds,” adds Tucker, highlighting David Yurman’s long-time commitment to ethical diamond sourcing.
David Yurman Cable Edge earrings in recycled 18-karat yellow gold set with diamonds. (David Yurman)
Versatility is key
Retailers must also look to provide different, unique, and compelling diamond jewelry designs at various price points, notes Tucker, to meet the budgets of younger buyers. “Gen Z has grown up in a different world than many previous generations, causing them to become slightly more price-conscious,” he says. “When purchasing something like diamonds, Gen Z values products that are timeless and can be viewed as a long-term investment or something to be passed down.”
So, what are the designs populating the jewelry boxes of Gen Z? “Classic diamond hoops and diamond initial pendants,” Tucker reveals. “Being able to invest in pieces that can be worn in a variety of ways is something extremely important to Gen Z, maximizing the value they get from these higher-priced designs.” He highlights Gen Z jewelry’s rejection of chunkier diamond styles in favor of subtle sophistication, a trend also noticed by Eric Mor, CEO of New York-based diamond dealer Abe Mor.
“Everything is increasingly simple and delicate,” says Mor, “and that’s reflected in both the design of the jewelry and the stones themselves. Young consumers still like their big diamonds, but they don’t want to look ostentatious.”
Understated cuts are in
This, in turn, has led to a renewed popularity surrounding understated cuts. “I’ve been seeing a lot of emerald cuts with younger consumers over the past year,” adds Mor. “Ovals are still going very strong, and there’s a little bit of marquise here and there, which [Gen Z] think is really cool and something they haven’t seen before. We’re also seeing a lot more interest in antique cuts like Old European, a really understated stone. [Gen Z] don’t want to look like they’re being flashy.”
With this, the appeal of quietly elegant, contemporary styles, like eternity rings, continues to soar. “No pavé, nothing too big, like 15 to 20 years ago,” says Mor. “Solitaires are more and more requested, too.”
Rainbow K 18-karat gold and diamond bracelet. (Rainbow K)
Vintage is making a comeback
Mor, who specializes in bespoke rings for high-end retailers, also underscores an interest in vintage stones — gems with provenance and an heirloom-like appeal. “There’s a nice demand for vintage diamonds among Gen Z,” he reveals. “Elongated cushions and elongated radiants are very scarce on the market. Everybody wants that elongated look.”
What’s more, younger consumers are increasingly pairing the warmth of yellow gold with their diamonds. “Diamond studs are highly popular at the moment, too,” says Mor. “And tennis bracelets have made a comeback. Yellow diamonds are also definitely much stronger than they used to be. Fancy yellows appeal
to younger consumers.”
All in all, Gen Z’s affinity for the uniqueness of natural diamonds is clear. Dealers will need to arm themselves with knowledge of the market’s trends if they hope to appeal to this younger, emerging audience, especially as their spending habits differ so drastically from previous generations.
This article is from RDI Diamonds’ June Gem Z special report. View other articles here.
Main image: 18-karat gold and diamond Enchanted Lotus cocktail ring. (De Beers)