Female economic independence is bringing about changes in how women view and participate in marriage and other personal relationships (Fig. 14).
Despite cultural differences, there are some common attitudinal shifts in how women perceive marriage. In the US, for example, women no longer see either marriage or love as the be-all and end-all. In fact, 73 per cent of US women don’t feel they need a partner to be complete.11
But this doesn’t mean that Millennials in the US reject marriage: 69 per cent of unmarried Millennials say they would like to marry, but plans are often delayed – most often by their economic situation.12
The financial position is one of the reasons why people are now getting married later. This is happening most noticeably in the US and Japan, where the average ages for women at first marriage are 27 and 30 respectively.13
As people in these countries are more mature when they first marry, they are increasingly entering marriage on a more equal footing – as partners who retain their individuality within the relationship.
This is helping them sense they have more choices, including the opportunity to focus on the growth of both individuals rather than the partnership itself.
In turn, this is helping to change attitudes and expectations when it comes to diamond jewellery.
As marriage comes later, women are buying or receiving diamonds for other occasions before marriage.
In the US, women are coming by their first piece of diamond jewellery at an increasingly young age. Twenty per cent of those who own diamond jewellery, and were aged between 18 and 35 in 2015, were under 16 when they acquired their first piece of diamond jewellery. Only 15 per cent of women from older age groups did so at this age.14
So the traditional emphasis on a series of linear life ‘milestones’ – including graduation, engagement and anniversaries – is evolving to incorporate what might be called ‘multiple moments’ (Fig. 15).
These moments are not connected by a seemingly natural progression. Instead, they occur at irregular points throughout life.
Source: Forevermark-commissioned research, US, 2017.
‘Multiple moments’ can include a wide range of opportunities to celebrate, from getting a new job to a memento of a great experience or a personal thank you.
But the traditional and new ways of using diamonds to symbolise relationship events are by no means mutually exclusive. Familial gifting and the tradition of celebrating commitment and love in marriage are both still very much alive.
And the tendency to celebrate a woman’s personal and career achievements is growing too.
While the growth of diamond jewellery self-purchase by women has been noted as mentioned in Trend 1, love gifting and bridal acquisition still represent the majority of demand in the three leading consumer markets of the US, China and Japan (see Fig. 1). However, increasing female equity within a relationship, and changing attitudes to marriage and romantic partnerships, have led to a corresponding development within gifting behaviour.
There has also been a notable shift in diamond acquisition behaviour, from the traditional marking of linear milestones to spontaneously marking more ‘moments’ in life. One of the main drivers of this has been the expansion of gifting to celebrate a woman as an individual, rather than to celebrate the relationship.
Interestingly, diamond jewellery acquisition to celebrate a woman’s personal achievement is greater within the context of love gifting than within self-purchase. In the three leading consumer markets, men are more likely to acquire diamond jewellery for celebrating a woman’s personal milestone than women are to buy for themselves for this reason (Fig. 16).
For men, diamond jewellery represents the ultimate gift for their partner.15 This superlative quality joined with a diamond’s uniqueness is particularly interesting when combined with the growing importance of individual growth and empowerment. Diamonds can give inner confidence and outer recognition. Many men now choose diamonds to celebrate their pride in a woman for all of her qualities and who she is in the world, rather than as a gift thanking her for the role she plays in their relationship and family.
Gifting within the family – particularly by older to younger members – is an important part of the global diamond jewellery sector.
In the more developed diamond-buying nations, the population aged over 60 is forecast to grow by a third between 2015 and 2030. This age group is expected to generate 51 per cent of these countries’ growth in urban consumption in this period.16
This makes intergenerational gifting an increasingly important focus area for diamond jewellery companies. More than a quarter of diamond jewellery pieces gifted to single women in the US and Japan, and a fifth in China, are gifts from family members (Fig. 17).
In India, where women are the main decision-makers in almost all diamond purchasing, the position is slightly different. Unlike in other countries, gold and diamond jewellery is gifted by the families of newly-weds – not by the groom. And it is mothers and other female family members who make the choices.
When it comes to non-bridal diamond jewellery, more than a quarter (27 per cent) of diamond pieces in India are bought by women for other women – most often family members.17
A US designer and manufacturer of custom beaded jewellery recently observed that 40 per cent of her female customers buy jewellery as gifts for other women.18
The main reasons why women buy jewellery as gifts are to bond with another woman they care about and to celebrate a special moment with someone they love.19 These factors highlight a market opportunity created by women’s need for female bonding, including gifting from women to other women, both in the family and in a close circle of friends.
11. Female Tribes, J. Walter Thompson Company Initiative report, 2017, based on JWT Women’s Index Study, 2015.
12. Millennials in Adulthood, Pew Research Center, March 2014.
13. For US, Lydia Anderson and Krista K. Payne. National Centre for Family and Marriage Research, Bowling Green State University, OH. Median Age at First Marriage, 2014. Family Profiles, FP-16-07, 2016. For Japan: Statistics bureau, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Japan, Statistical Handbook of Japan, 2014.
14. De Beers-commissioned diamond acquisition study, US, 2016.
15. De Beers-commissioned research, US, 2016.
16. Urban World: The Global Consumers to Watch, McKinsey Global Institute, April 2016.
17. De Beers-commissioned diamond purchasing study, India, 2014.
18. Jill Wright, Gems by Jill blog, designer and manufacturer of custom beaded jewellery.