If you’re a millennial, you know that we get a pretty questionable rap sometimes. The headlines claim we don’t work as hard as previous generations, spend too much money on avocado toast instead of houses in the ‘burbs, and aren’t getting married and having kids the way our parents did among other critiques. But if you tap beneath the surface, it’s evident that we are actually more discerning than previous generations in many ways. We eschew cheap and fast in favor of longevity and quality. We crave meaningful experiences and are cautious about what we do invest our money in because we came of age during the recession and know that jobs and bank account balances are hard earned. Despite generations of American consumerism targeted at buying more via fast fashion, I’ve seen my friends much more apt to spend money on one perfect pair of shoes or a leather jacket they’ve been eyeing for an entire season. Sure, we love our avocado toast. But that also speaks to our prioritizing of quality over quantity. We don’t congregate at the local greasy spoon, we seek elevated quality in everything from our brunch to our jewelry because we ascribe meaning to our purchases in a different way. Authenticity is everything to our generation and I’m proud to be a part of that movement.
As you all know, I recently had a baby(!) and when my husband asked me what I wanted for my “push present,” I knew without a doubt that I wanted a diamond ring to wear with my engagement ring and wedding band. There are a lot of other items on my wishlist, but when it came down to it, I knew I wanted something that would last forever. Something that the earth made, that a jeweler lovingly crafted, that I can someday pass down to my daughter. An heirloom in the making.
It turns out I’m not the only millennial craving quality over quantity. A recent study from the Real is Rare campaign found that 75% of women see diamonds as an investment in themselves and 82% see diamonds as a long term investment. This makes total sense to me when looking at our generation overall. We are all about authenticity – whether it’s shopping the farmer’s market and dining on farm to table cuisine, or buying on Etsy from independent makers with goods that come with a story. We eschew clutter in favor of fewer, more meaningful goods. Just look at the popularity of capsule wardrobes and Konmari. The Real is Rare study reflects our changing mentality, “Millennial consumers, in particular, are defining luxury beyond price,” said Deborah Marquardt, Chief Marketing Officer of the Diamond Producers Association. “When evaluating luxury purchases, they seek items that are genuine, unique and not mass-produced, and have inherent meaning and value. This preference speaks directly to the diamond promise – in an increasingly artificial world diamonds remain authentic, rare and precious.”
I think this way of thinking also has a European bend to it which may explain why I personally am so drawn to it. I remember my first trip to Italy buying shoes from an actual shoemaker and the thrill that came from seeing where they were made and meeting the maker. I still have those shoes a decade later. The same can’t be said for my mass produced shoe purchases. Likewise for my first shopping experience in Paris. Rather than filling my fitting room with hanger after hanger, I found a few select pieces that cost more but would stand the test of time and trends. I still own the blouse and pants I purchased on that first shopping expedition in the Marais. These items tell a story, feel tied to something meaningful and their quality is indisputable. The more I can fill my life with this type of authenticity, the better I feel about my investment in myself. Again, I’m not alone. The Real is Rare study also found that nearly 9 in 10 millennial women look for authenticity when purchasing diamonds and luxury items.
Every time I look down at my ring finger, I see a history of my life with my husband thus far. The day he proposed, our wedding, and now the birth of our sweet baby girl. I get choked up just looking at it because there is so much meaning beyond the tangible. The diamonds are a symbol of longevity, of an investment in us, of our genuine life we have built together. I strive for quality over quantity in everything in my life, and if that makes me a stereotypical millennial? I’ll wear the label proudly.
P.S. Pictures of my new ring to come just as soon as I can squeeze in a manicure!