Millennials are buying more diamonds than you think — just not for other people

Will Martin - Business Insider

· Millennials are buying diamonds at a rate higher than their parents, according to the CFO of the world's biggest diamond producer.

· Nimesh Patel of De Beers told Business Insider that it is a "fallacy" to say that millennials aren't buying diamonds.

LONDON — It's wrong to suggest that millennials aren't buying diamonds, according to De Beers Chief Financial Officer Nimesh Patel, because they're spending a higher proportion of their income on jewelry than previous generations.

Back in 2016 an article in The Economist magazine went viral after asking the question "Why aren't millennials buying diamonds?"

The article drew criticism from the millennial generation.

Speaking to Business Insider last week, Patel called the idea that younger people aren't buying diamonds a "fallacy" and said that demand among millennials (generally classed as anyone aged between 18 and 35) is pretty similar to, if not higher, than in previous generations.

"There's a slight fallacy here that younger people don't want to buy diamonds," Patel told BI over the phone.

"That is the same or higher proportion of diamond jewelry purchases as the generations that came before them when they were the same age."

The trend of millennials buying diamonds, Patel says, is even more impressive given that most have not yet reached what he calls "peak affluency" — the point in one's life where you have the largest proportion of disposable income.

“In fact, they're probably 10 years away from that peak. Again, compared to previous generations, that means that they're probably spending a higher proportion of their total personal disposable income on diamond jewelry," Patel said.

Trends for diamond purchase are shifting however, Patel noted, saying that the millennial generation is more inclined towards what he called "self-purchase" of diamonds and diamond jewelry.

Look at the facts. If you look at the millennials in our top four markets, they account for 45% of diamond purchases. That's an impressive number."

Millennials are more likely to buy themselves diamonds to celebrate their achievements and successes, rather than for life events such as an engagement, than other generations.

"The last point to pick up on is the trend towards self-purchase. Self-purchase today is at 26%, and we are seeing self-purchases being more frequent, and at an earlier age,"

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