Luxury Jewelry and Digital Natives

Luxury jewelry is on an upward tick, even with the Covid-19 pandemic hit from the past months, surpassing sales for leather goods and luxury handbags. Recommerce across luxury second hand sites like Vestiaire Collective is also gaining momentum, but how is luxury jewelry making waves with the Gen Z cohort?


While luxury handbag sales move the needle exponentially in the luxury industry, the past years have shown a marked shift in consumer behavior, with fine jewelry taking the lead. In the 16-year stretch between 2004 to 2020, jewelry market growth has quadrupled.


According to investment company Exane, fine jewelry sales are expected to jump 10-12% annually over the upcoming five years, as compared to 7-9% for leather goods and circa 6-7% for the luxury industry. Looking at the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of fine jewelry from 2004 to 2020 at 8%, it has also far surpassed personal luxury goods with a 3% CAGR.

Generation Z has grown up in an environment with so much innovation that they have been forced to keep up and are self-taught, technologically independent individuals. They have gone from a flip phone to an iPod to an iPhone and now the new Apple Watch.


— Chris Ciunci



The surge in fine jewelry sales is down to three major factors, as Morgan Stanley Research analysts report. Firstly, female empowerment in the East, namely China, has taken hold and self purchases are climbing. Secondly, branded luxury jewelry driven by 4 massive brands is moving the dial across the globe. And, surprise, surprise, social media is a major driver in the globalization of jewelry with consumers and influencers opting for instantly recognisable and iconic collections.


Sales at Richemont’s jewelry houses, including Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, were up 62% in the quarter ending 31 March, 2021. LVMH’s watches and jewelry division (e.g., Bulgari and Tiffany & Co.) sales rose by 35%, while Chanel’s Coco Crush fine jewelry collection experienced double-digit revenue growth in 2020.

Generation Z thinks globally because they can reach around the world. They have opinions about a certain country [e.g., its politics, economy, etc.] not because they read about it in the paper, but because they or their friends are connected to someone in that country through technology.
— Andrea Hill




Despite its outstanding growth, fine jewelry has yet to captivate the Gen Z Zoomers. Some impediments on the race to appeal to the younger gen encompass fine jewelry’s inherent longevity and long lifespan, which is not oh so appealing as compared to hot ticket fashion items.


Many fashion houses also tend towards adapting a more conservative approach to communications, which doesn’t resonate well with a community of Gen Z’ers who favor inclusivity and the experiential. As digital natives, shopping online is also a must for Gen Z and many luxury jewelry brands have yet to make the e-commerce experience, or e(everywhere) commerce an enjoyable one.


Let’s face it, Gen Z is demanding, they hunt and collect newness but have a tighter grip on their wallets. They are drawn by the allure of Instagram-worthy collections and the collective amplification of social media channels and gravitate towards brands that care about the planet and sustainability. They seek out the experiential and want to be a part of the brand world not just a byproduct.

Today’s Millennials are often too intimidated to even walk into a jewelry store. If they do buy fine jewelry, they may visit a department store.
— Marty Hurwitz

rethink, reuse, recover


A handful of luxury jewelrs have begun charting new horizons in the realm of second hand – whether through re-earthed and polished up iconic pieces; offering trade-ins; or reselling through resale platforms. Kering has already adapted this hot trend and owns a 5% stake in Vestiaire Collective, a pre-owned platform for luxury brands.


This is a clear segway towards upping the allure for Gen Z with greater accessibility, emphasis on the archival and iconic and mindfulness on the sustainability front, as second-hand boasts a lower carbon footprint. On Vestiaire Collective, jewelry sales are growing by 173% YOY, outpacing handbags which increased by 171%. Some top sellers on the platform include Elsa Peretti for Tiffany & Co., up 324% and Clic H from Hermès, up 291%.


As part of Vestiaire Collective’s Brand Approved program, Kering-owned Alexander McQueen has opened the doors for customers to sell their pre-loved Alexander McQueen items. Once fully vetted and verified by brand experts, the reseller receives credit and can put it towards new purchases from the brand.


Tiffany & Co. has launched a program which enables its US-based clients to upgrade their original Tiffany diamond engagement rings. Requests are reviewed and proud Tiffany ring owners are awarded with credit up to the original purchase, which can be applied towards a new Tiffany engagement ring. It’s a great way to keep in touch with customers on a continual basis and build long lasting relationships.

Riding the wave of iconic jewelry’s current mega moment, Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels have unveiled their archival collections. Cartier with Cartier Tradition for jewelry and Vintage for watches; and Van Cleef & Arpels’ Heritage. After authenticating, repairing and cleaning the iconic pieces, the pieces are up for grabs by jewelry aficionados.




Despite the pandemic, shopping for fine jewelry has continued to rise. At Chaumet, the average spend rose about 25% in less than 12 months. With lockdown in effect and limited numbers on gatherings and travel, weddings took a dive while budgets were redirected to wedding bands and solitaires. Naturally, this carried over to a sharp uptick in e-commerce across all price levels.


Although there was no place to go or be seen for a solid few months, fine jewelry’s perennial quality serves as an emblem for longevity, which offers a form of reassurance and safety in uncertain times. As women typically purchase more for themselves, there’s also the added layer of emotional connection.


While luxury jewelry purchases are still on the rise with lavish events, red carpets and film festivals making a comeback, industry insiders caution that this may fizzle out. Governmental support for recovering economies are being phased out, as are stimulus packages. It’s also likely that more people will favor experiences and travel more than material goods with air traffic opening up around the world.



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