They are buying at locales other than traditional jewelers.
De Beers calls the idea that millennials are turning away from diamonds a “myth” in its latest Diamond Insight Report, though it admits younger buyers—with their strapped income, later marriages, and love of technology—do pose certain challenges.
The report—which can be downloaded here—estimates that the millennial demographic purchased $26 billion in diamond jewelry in the four major diamond markets last year, more than any other age group. (Of course, it is a larger age group than all the others, too.)
“They are not a lost generation by any means,” says Stephen Lussier, De Beers executive vice president of marketing and CEO of its Forevermark brand. “There is relatively strong desire for diamonds.”
The report contends that diamond engagement rings remain a “cultural imperative” in the United States, with 26 percent of U.S. millennial brides claiming to have dreamt about their future ring four and a half years before beginning a relationship.
If millennials seem underrepresented at jewelry counters, it’s because they tend to buy in more locations than just standard jewelry shops, Lussier says.
“They are buying at nontraditional places of purchase—be it designers or boutiques,” he explains. “We are seeing places like Net-a-Porter pushing more jewelry and building significant businesses.”
This group is also coping with heavy economic pressures—their real income level is lower than Generation X’s was in 1998—and they are getting married later: Just 28 per cent of millennials are married, which is 40 percent lower than the baby boom generation at a comparable stage in life. But Lussier feels that could mean bigger sales down the road: “As [millennials] advance into higher income ranges, as they get into their mid- to late-40s, we have the opportunity to covert them at higher prices,” he says.