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4 Stats That Show How Millennials Are Buying Engagement Rings

Millennials have confounded the diamond market, and are swiftly changing the wedding industry with their new takes on traditions…but what are they really looking for when buying engagement rings? We have four stats that tell the story…

At the end of last year, we gave readers a good look at how Millennials feel about engagement rings—because the generation is sending the diamond market into a tizzy. Their shifting definition of luxury and status symbols, environmental and social concerns, and budgets have caused some real disruption. When Millennials were called out as a threat to the diamond industry, and The Economist tweeted their story on the subject with the caption, “Why aren’t millennials buying diamonds?”—igniting a swift response from the internet on why the generation isn’t purchasing the “sparkly status symbols.”

In a recent Ypulse monthly survey of 1000 13-34-year-olds, we delved even deeper into the topic, and found out exactly what young consumers are planning for their engagement rings. Of course, the non-traditional came up. One 30-year-old female told us, “For my engagement ring, I want a tattoo. No ring.” But overall, Millennials who are open to marriage—77% of 18-34-year-olds—are likely to shop for some jewelry to symbolize the milestone. In fact, only 2% of Millennials open to marriage told us that they would not have or give an engagement ring. That means there’s plenty of opportunity for the jewelry market—if they know what this generation of ring shoppers is looking for. Here are four stats we uncovered that show how they’re buying their engagement bling: 

Almost three in five Millennials would want a diamond as the main stone in their/their partner’s engagement ring.

Ok! So the majority of Millennials still do want diamonds. Though it may not be quite as ubiquitous a desire as it was among previous generations, the white glittery stones are still the ideal. But it’s important to note that Ypulse research found that almost seven in ten 18-34-year-olds agree that it doesn’t matter if the diamond on an engagement ring is lab-made. Conscious of the environmental and humanitarian repercussions of mining, and price tags, Millennials are choosing lab-grown diamonds more than ever, with Morgan Stanley estimating that the stones will take over 15% market share in gem-quality ‘melee’ diamonds and 7.5% share in sales of larger diamonds by 2020. Millennials’ shifting definition of luxury is also driving the trend, as they continue “prizing technology over tradition.” The startup Diamond Foundry supplies Millennials with guilt-free lab-made diamonds, and saw its revenues triple last quarter with no signs of slowing down.

But…three in ten want another kind of stone.

Thirty percent of 18-34-year-olds told us that they want another kind of stone for their or their partner’s engagement ring. Sapphire was the top kind of non-diamond gem that respondents said they would want. We also know that almost eight in ten believe that engagement rings should be unique—and that desire for uniqueness could also be one of the reasons that 70% also say that engagement rings don’t have to have diamonds. 

Almost two in five believe that big, expensive engagement rings are totally/somewhat out of style.

One of the strongest feelings that Millennials have about engagement rings right now is that they’re far too pricey, with almost eight in ten saying that they’re too expensive. Thirty-eight percent tell us that big, expensive engagement rings are out of style. This aligns with their preferences about weddings in general: 79% say they would rather have a small inexpensive wedding than a big expensive wedding. In the U.K., the average cost of engagement rings and wedding dresses is also dropping—according to the BBC, almost 20% less is spent on rings than a decade ago, and in only one year, dress prices have fallen 25%. And Millennials’ price sensitivity could be changing another “tradition” as well… 

Over half believe there are no rules for determining the budget for a ring.

Remember the idea that an engagement ring should cost approximately three months’ salary? Say goodbye to that notion. According to 56% of Millennials, there are no rules for determining the budget for a ring. Only 30% say that the budget should be determined on a person’s salary. Interestingly, males were more likely than females to say that there are no rules to determining an engagement ring’s cost—but the majority of both genders felt this way, indicating that the new rule for figuring out how much to spend is no rule at all. 

To download the PDF version of this insight article, click here.