Do Millennials Buy Diamonds? Key Findings from Bread’s Jewelry Research Report

Consumer Insights & Research | 5 mins

“Why aren’t Millennials buying diamonds?” So goes The Economist’s tweet heard ‘round the world, but is it actually true that Millennials have a greater aversion to buying diamonds and other jewelry than previous generations? It’s hard to deny that the future of the jewelry market will be Millennials—their collective annual income stands to exceed $4 trillion by 2030 according to the World Bank. The real question is, are Millennials meaningfully different in their buying behavior? And if so, how? Bread asked 500 Millennials about their jewelry buying preferences, and the results were surprising. You can see some of the key stats in our infographic, and learn how our findings go contrary to some popularly-held beliefs about Millennial jewelry buyers below. 

Are Millennials Killing the Diamond Industry?

Let’s tackle that first question. The answer there is a pretty clear “No”. Sure, they may be more critical of the industry, but they are still buying diamonds. According to De Beers, 45% of all diamond purchases in major markets across the globe are attributed to Millennials, and they drive 59% of the demand in the US. Bread’s own independent study into the industry found that a full 50% of Millennials prefer to receive diamonds as a gift, with white gold (41%), sapphire (31%), ruby (25%), and emerald (22%) all following behind. So, clearly, Millennials are not shunning diamonds in favor of lab-created white sapphire or lapis lazuli.

However, that’s not to say that some Millennials aren’t more interested in the supply chain and ethical practices behind the diamonds they wish to own. When it comes to how those stones are produced, 40% of Millennial shoppers prefer that their stones are lab-grown, but 20% prefer those that are mined. According to Bread’s research, two of the least important factors Millennials reported for picking a jewelry retailer was whether their stones were ethically sourced and their corporate responsibility. There are more ethical options in the marketplace than ever, but they currently only cater to a subset of the Millennial jewelry-buying audience

Are Digital Channels the Only Way to Reach Millennials?

Millennial media consumption habits have evolved alongside new digital channels, but don’t shun traditional advertising methods. Far from it: 40% of Millennials say they discover new jewelry brands via television ads, vs 31% who discover them via online ads. That said, Facebook (49%) and Instagram (43%) are still the main ways they find out about new jewelers, so adjust your marketing strategy accordingly. Snapchat is one of the lowest-cited sources for discovering new retailers, showing that not every digital channel may be a worthwhile investment if you’re looking to target Millennials.

One major change may be their openness to buying jewelry online without trying it on or seeing it in person. Only 18% of Millennials care whether they can try jewelry on before they buy, which is good news for brands that rely on a robust ecommerce experience. Digital-first and omnichannel shopping is a reality for Millennials as ecommerce technology continues to develop, but it’s a reality for shoppers of all ages as well.

The biggest difference between Millennials and previous generations might be who they get their jewelry recommendations from. More than half of Millennial shoppers would buy jewelry because an influencer recommends it—this kind of messaging is a natural fit for jewelry, and it’s clearly a method that is speaking to Millennials.

Can Millennials Afford the Jewelry They Want?:

Not all of them, but new payment options are making it easier. 54% of Millennials are considering giving jewelry for Valentine’s Day this year but 59% can’t afford the jewelry they want to buy. Because they can’t comfortably make that purchase on a single paycheck, they’re looking to other payment options. Buy now, pay later financing is helping them put the gift of jewelry into reach. That’s why 69% of Millennials prefer to shop at a jewelry retailer that offers interest-free financing and are nearly 5x more likely to shop at a jewelry retailer that offers interest-free financing than one that doesn’t. 73% of Millennial jewelry buyers would choose interest-free installments over a 5% discount.

One thing is for sure, Millennials are more averse to credit card debt and more open to alternative payment methods than their forebears. In fact, financing options can be a huge motivator, one that also helps jewelry brands retain brand and pricing integrity by acting as an alternative to traditional discounts.

Millennials aren’t so different from past generations, but, like every generation, they are unique. When it comes to jewelry, they still want that perfect balance of quality, design, and price. Any brand that can offer that will have an advantage, but to reach Millennials you’ll still need to keep up with the modern approach they’ve come to expect. If you had grown up with smartphones and social media you’d probably expect the same. A smooth ecommerce experience, omnichannel shopping options, seamless payment, and affordable financing are all going to be key. Beyond that, they’re not so different—their interests and the messages that resonate with them may have shifted somewhat, but the fundamental aspects that make us buy and wear beautiful things have never really changed.

In 2020, meet your Millennial customers’ demands and give them what they’re asking for. To learn more about shifts in Millennial buying behavior in the jewelry sector, download Bread’s full report.