Fashion fans tracking trends at the 91st Academy Awards during the pre-Oscars Red Carpet telecast Feb. 24 on E! and Bravo were introduced to the Diamond Producers Association’s (DPA) latest Real is Rare, Real is a Diamond social media campaign #ForMeFromMe, @realisadiamond.
Pushing self-purchase, DPA posted portraits of diverse women wearing diamond fashion jewelry like classic diamond studs, modern diamond ear climbers, and delicate multi-stone diamond necklaces. And, diamonds were big at the Oscars — lots of long dangle and drop diamond earrings, twisted hoops and interesting ear climbers; and diamond wrap rings and bracelets.
While bridal jewelry represents about half of the diamond category, self-purchase accounts for one third and growing. DPA focus groups reveal that most U.S. women view diamond jewelry as a long-term investment in themselves, and they also feel more confident in themselves when wearing diamonds. The “For Me, From Me” campaign celebrates self-gifting and the deep emotional connection women have to diamond jewelry.
Among the top reasons why women say they would buy diamonds for themselves, according to DPA research, are to celebrate an achievement, mark a memory, or simply because they see something they love and they want it.
Historically focused on diamond bridal, the diamond and jewelry industry must understand and respond to the changing dynamics of today’s market.
The shift among consumers, especially millennials is for everyday luxury, rather than special occasion statement pieces, underscores Valerie Fletcher, Vice President of Design and Product Development for the NYC-based Original Designs Inc. (ODI). “We need to send the message that diamonds are accessible. No need to wait for a special occasion or a gift. Fine jewelry should be an everyday luxury that we treat ourselves to and collect, as we do with designer shoes and bags
Fletcher finds that self-purchasing women like pieces that are more personal and say something about them. Leading motifs include spiritual, celestial, pets, and nature. And, favorite designs favor contemporary styling with an edge — like sideways hoops instead of traditional, or black diamonds instead of white — updated classics that can be worn alone or easily layered with other styles.
“It’s not about being ostentatious; flaunting status is out,” says Samuel Sandberg, Chairman of the New York-based A. Jaffe. “Diamond jewelry for self-purchase is more delicate, understated and personalized.” This describes A. Jaffe’s popular Maps collection that includes charms, jewelry and accessories that map out a special location in silver or gold with diamond detail.
Diamond fashion has come into its own, cheers Robin Gandhi for Aneri Jewels and Laxmi Diamonds in New York, who notes that the field is wide open as to what is capturing consumers’ attention.
“For a few years, ‘dancing diamonds’ was all the rage, but today there is not a clear trend, leaving jewelers to find their own way,” says Gandhi. “Our company has seen bigger diamond jewelry catching on, like single diamond line bracelets.” He says that the traditional line bracelet is popular in 10K gold and up to 4 carats of diamonds total weight. “It’s not as significant in fashion jewelry as it is in bridal that it be 14K gold.”
Cynthia Speight, Merchandise Manager for IB Goodman in Newport, Kentucky says that women want jewelry they can live in, which is why the flexible diamond band and bracelet are bestsellers. Like your favorite jeans with stretch, styles like IBG’s diamond spiral wrap ring and flex diamond line bracelet adjust to the wearer. Simplicity is key in diamond fashion jewelry design.
More women than ever are working in professional capacities and have the ability and disposable income to buy the things they want for themselves — as Gen Analytics finds that women control $20 trillion in consumer spending.
The rise of self-purchasing women is not new, but it is increasingly significant. According to De Beers’ Diamond Insight Report 2017, self-purchases by women nearly doubled the past decade with diamond-only, design-driven and responsibly sourced pieces among the favorites. Its 2018 report states that one third of women’s diamond jewelry is self-purchased. The report also notes that single women increased their average spend on diamond jewelry, buying more pieces with multiple diamonds and a higher total carat weight, as well as more design heavy pieces.
Women are not only buying jewelry for themselves, they are involved in a majority of the engagement ring purchases and greatly influence gifting, says Neil Shah, a principal of Shah Luxury in New York City. He says the dramatic rise in customization services that his company has experienced in recent years is a testament to the significant increase in women participating in the jewelry buying process, because they know what they want. “And, we should be listening.”