In its latest Diamond Insight Report, De Beers Group noted that millennial and Gen Z customers expect a seamless omnichannel shopping experience from retailers. (Image courtesy of De Beers Group)
Hong Kong—Diamond jewelry sales last year reached a record $82 billion high in 2017, with much of the purchasing coming from young consumers, according to De Beers Group’s latest Diamond Insight Report.

According to the diamond miner’s study, the millennial and Gen Z generations made up two-thirds of that demand in 2017. And while the former makes up the largest group of diamond consumers now, Gen Z will be an even bigger customer base. 

Millennials are currently aged 21 to 39 and make up 29 percent of the global population. Last year they represented 60 percent of diamond jewelry demand in the United States and close to 80 percent in China. 

The Gen Z demographic is currently aged up to 20 and represents 35 percent of the world’s population. Despite the generation’s youth, 18- to 20-year-olds already accounted for 5 percent of diamond jewelry sales last year.

De Beers noted that both generations share values like holding love in high regard, growing up with the Internet, being interested in social issues and prioritizing authenticity and self-expression.

They differ however, in matters of trust. Millennials are a less trusting consumer, while Gen Z is more individualistic and optimistic, interested in building their own personal brands. 

To better understand these two groups, the report broke down three ways the diamond industry can reach these demographics, keeping in mind how the generations overlap and differ in the aforementioned values.

First, diamond sellers should evolve how they talk about love to these consumers.

Romantic love is still the main driver of diamond jewelry sales, and millennials and Gen Z still want to follow tradition, but they want to do so on their own terms. Bridal sales account for 27 percent of diamond jewelry demand, but diamond gifts unrelated to marriage are still significant, representing 12 percent of the market.

Retailers should focus on more customizable offerings that represent the broad spectrum of love and commitment, rather than just diamond engagement rings. 

Second, perhaps unsurprisingly, diamond sellers and retailers need to bring their selling experience onto multiple platforms, reaching these generations on their favored channels: Instagram and Snapchat. Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are still important, but will reach an older consumer, not Gen Z. 

These consumers want an omnichannel experience that’s completely seamless.

Sixty percent of Gen Z and millennial women in the United States aged 18 to 39 research diamond jewelry designs, quality, pricing and brands before they shop. Younger millennials and Gen Z also turn to social media for inspiration.

In China, 98 percent Gen Z and Millennials aged 19 to 29 do research through at least one social media channel prior to purchasing.

Lastly, companies need to appeal to these consumers’ social conscious, and it can’t just be all talk.

De Beers said that Gen Z, in particular, won’t buy in to corporate storytelling. They want to see proof of ethical sourcing or the good that diamonds are doing for communities from which they came.

“Diamond jewelry demand reached a record global high in 2017; however, with the younger consumers’ desire for qualities that diamonds can perfectly embody—including love, connections, authenticity, uniqueness and positive social impact—the most exciting times for the diamond industry are still ahead of us if we can seize the opportunities,” De Beers Group CEO Bruce Cleaver said.

“The younger generations present wide-ranging opportunities for the diamond industry with the significant size and purchasing power of today’s Millennials and tomorrow’s Gen Z consumers. While both of these generations desire diamonds just as much as the generations that have come before them, there are undoubtedly new dynamics at play: those diamonds may now be in different product designs, used to symbolize new expressions of love and researched and purchased in different ways to mark different moments in life.”

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