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Millennial Priorities

by Angie Ash, Executive Vice President

On a quest to find out what holds millennials back from buying fine jewelry, I got some answers that may lend you a little insight.

Recently, I went around our office and talked to the ladies of our mainly millennial staff, asking them questions about jewelry, what they like, and what they will or won’t wear. And the why and when. Although some of their answers aren’t surprising, there were a few comments I found eye-opening, especially as a Gen-Xer who never feels completely dressed until my jewelry is on.

“I only wear jewelry if I’m going out or am dressed up.”

“I like rings, but I hate it when my fingers swell, and I can’t get them off. I hate bracelets because they get in my way and make too much noise.”

“My class ring doesn’t look like a typical class ring, so I Iove it. I wear it every day and would be panicked if I lost it. I went to a fine jeweler with my mom to buy it, but I haven’t been in a fine jewelry store since. My dad has, though.”

“Vintage is my vibe. Pretty sure I’m going to marry my boyfriend and he already knows I want something from an antique shop and not a diamond. It has to be colorful and really unique.”

“I like jewelry but I’m saving up for a new car right now. It’s a bigger priority for me.”

“Right now, I typically buy sterling silver pieces at art festivals or from local artists. That way, they can still look unique and are of good quality but also affordable.”

“There are some designers I like with really pretty rings, but I would look for that same style for a lot less money. None of my friends know or care about brands when it comes to jewelry. If I like someone’s jewelry, I just tell them I like it. I wouldn’t ask them what brand it is or where they bought it.”

“I like jewelry, but I worry too much about losing something I spent a lot of money on. For the same reason, I would love more expensive sunglasses, too, but am too afraid I’ll lose or break them. I would be really upset if that happened.”

“I went to a preppy college and all the girls wore Tiffany bracelets then. That’s when I first started becoming aware of brands. I’m still paying off college loans, so jewelry isn’t something I can spend money on right now. Maybe someday.”

“My mom bought me some diamond earrings when I graduated, but I hardly ever wear them. I think she’s disappointed. She thought I would wear them all the time.”

Although this was just a smattering of thought, there were a few things that stuck out to me. One was that I felt the same way in my early 20s. Fine jewelry just wasn’t something I would have purchased at that time of my life. Beyond an engagement ring or a gift that was given to me, it wasn’t top of mind. Another insight is that millennials today are nothing if not practical and pretty frugal. They are diligent about staying out of debt and probably witnessed some of the 2008 fallout within their own families. They are driven by deals and experiences instead of things. And they like to dress down as much as possible. Minimalist style, no fuss. That being said, this is just one scenario. For sure, there are millennials with high incomes without debt who are ready to buy. Every situation is different, but affluent millennials and the perfect millennial buyer is not a commonality in most parts of the country.

What about the future? It comes down to time and a place. As one millennial employee stated, “Sure. Someday I’ll be ready for an engagement ring and I’m sure I’ll look at a lot of options. And I’m hoping someday I’ll have enough saved that I feel I can make a bigger purchase for myself. Just not right now.”

Looking for more millennial insight? Email suits@fruchtman.com

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