A little-noticed trend in recent years in the diamond jewelry sector is the increase in self-purchases of jewelry by women. That comes at the same time as huge numbers of now financially independent women. They have more spare cash than in the past, and are proud of their independence and want solid proof for their own self-satisfaction as well as to show off.
They are now able and willing to buy their own diamond jewelry to prove the level of success they have achieved.
Women know exactly what they want
In America, Europe and elsewhere across the world, the conventional structure of households is changing radically. Both the mother and father typically work in full-time jobs today. A look at the figures appears to confirm this: less than 10% of American families live on one income. Moreover, 95% of the decisions made in connection to shopping in America are made by women who carry out almost all the shopping alone.
A 2009 study by the Jewelry Consumer Opinion Council (JCOC) found that 23 percent of self-purchasing women expected to buy jewelry containing diamonds – both white and colored – or colored gemstones or cultured pearls at least once during a typical year, while many women were likely to purchase the jewelry for the sake of fashion. They did not want to simply wait to receive a taste of luxury, especially when they know exactly what they want.
The JCOC report also found that 50% of self-purchasing women will buy a piece of jewelry simply because they like it.
Self-buying women look for fashion jewelry in earrings and pendants. And local jewelry retailers are responding to the power of women in luxury purchase decisions by offering wish list systems in order to clarify the preference of each woman in the case of an engagement, for example.
Couples are more often shopping together to plan their ring and wedding generally.
The biggest stimulus for the rise of female self-purchasing came from De Beers with its advertising campaign for the right-hand ring: “Left hand is we. Right hand is me. Women of the world raise your right hand.” That was the advertising tagline – and it seems to have struck a chord with women.
“The trend of women buying their own jewelry began with the launch of the tennis bracelet,” according to diamond jewelry analyst Ken Gassman. He said it was about women making a statement about their power to buy themselves their own jewelry.
“The three-stone ring and the right-hand ring were aimed directly at women. That was when female self-purchase really took off,” Gassman said.
Female self-purchase has taken off
Female self-purchase has taken off as the income gap between men and women has grown, especially in the younger age group. And the jewelry industry needs to attract young women who are more likely to buy for themselves, and to retain them throughout their lifetimes to keep returning to buy jewelry.
Advertising giant J. Walter Thompson, for De Beers in the 1980s, launched the first campaign to encourage female self-purchasing of diamond jewelry. The media firm’s Diamond for Working Women campaign aimed to cash in on the relatively large number of single, working women in the Japanese labor market at the time.
Diamond buying in the country at the time was relatively new, so the ad agency concluded that young female consumers had fewer expectations about receiving diamond jewelry from partners than did their counterparts in the West.
Female diamond jewelry self-purchase has grown globally for more than a decade. No longer seeing it as a gift, women now increasingly buy it for themselves. The Jewelry Consumer Opinion Council (JCOC) found out in a survey a decade ago in the United States that the majority of females who planned to make a jewelry purchase before the end of the year were likely to do it themselves.
What are the reasons for this trend?
Women want to celebrate an important life event, such as a special birthday, or career success, while other women may simply see a particular item that appeals to their tastes or complements their wardrobe.
Females may also buy jewelry as a memento of a place that has special meaning, usually bought on vacation. It may also be bought as a bond with someone the buyer cares about, such as mothers and daughters, or two best friends buying matching jewelry.
Often, the purchase marks an event such as promotion at work, an important birthday or anniversary. Jewelry purchases may also be a strong statement for women who are self-buyers. It has a permanent feel, being made of precious metals such as platinum, gold or silver, and set with the hardest stones known to man such as diamonds and colored gemstones – and that makes a convincing case for purchase.
In addition, the item can be worn repeatedly, with many different outfits and occasions. And, finally, it can be passed on to the next generation.
Where do women buy their own jewelry items?
Almost two-thirds (60 percent) of women buy jewelry at places other than traditional jewelry stores, and the percentage of women buying jewelry online, at department stores and at mass retailers is increasing.
In excess of two-thirds of the women asked said that they had bought jewelry for themselves in the past, and 16 percent planned to do so in the near future. Almost four-fifths of those surveyed said they bought jewelry whenever they saw something they liked, and more than half said they bought it while shopping for others or to celebrate birthdays or accomplishments.
It is difficult to estimate how much the female self-purchase market is worth, partly because of the wide number of of purchasing options in the Internet era, but also because women may often choose the jewelry item but it is paid for by their partner.
The JCOC does not believe that the retail jewelry trade is making enough effort to attract self purchasing women who are now a powerful consumer force in the marketplace.
For example, 66 percent of female self-purchasers in the United States typically will buy new shoes for themselves between two and five times annually, while one in 10 buys new shoes more than five times a year. The situation is similar regarding clothing purchases.
But for jewelry purchases, in a typical year, just two in 10 women bought once a year, while a similar number replied to the survey “not sure” and the same number again said “none.”
Market researchers say the diamond jewelry industry losing a great deal of income by not marketing to modern women.