Why Younger Shoppers Are Turning to Heritage Jewelry Like Signet Rings and Tennis Bracelets

While trend-driven jewelry styles have been a longtime favorite among younger consumers, retailers and brands are now seeing classic and heritage styles make an impression on Gen Z and younger Millennial shoppers.

Brands and retailers like Ring Concierge, Brilliant Earth, Material Good and With Clarity have seen a growing number of younger consumers gravitate toward the heritage jewelry styles typically popular among an older clientele, such as tennis styles, signet rings, diamond studs, pearls and other pieces.

More from WWD

“As younger people start investing their own money and in their own jewelry collection, they want to see the value in it,” said Teresa Panico, director of marketing and fine jewelry at Material Good. “They know that when they’re starting, they just want something more classic. They want something that they can wear every single day and that they can add on to and layer onto as their next purchase. I think starting with the basics is always the best way to start.”

This growing interest in classic styles is being seen across the jewelry market. According to global fashion search platform Lyst, searches for tennis bracelets reached its height between April and May of last year when queries increased by 365 percent. Additionally, year-to-date searches for tennis necklaces have increased by 219 percent. Signet rings have seen search increases of 53 percent month-to-month and searches for pearls are up 75 percent in the first quarter of the year.

“Pieces that are very versatile in your styling abilities are very important to people right now and that’s why they’ve stood the test of time because there’s just so much versatility,” said Nicole Wegman, the founder and chief executive officer of Ring Concierge. “Jewelry above all else needs to be worn in a lot of different ways and for a lot of different occasions to stand the test of time, otherwise it’s essentially just a trend item.”

Heritage jewelry styles grow in popularity among younger shoppers
A diamond signet ring from Ring Concierge.

Wegman attributes the rise of classic jewelry among younger customers to the continued quiet luxury trend that’s been seen across fashion and jewelry. She explained these types of jewelry styles fit in with quiet luxury’s opulent, yet understated ethos because of their versatility and timeless appeal.

Beth Gerstein, cofounder and CEO of Brilliant Earth, echoed this sentiment, stating: “That trend of quiet luxury allows you to have bolder jewelry in a much cleaner palette. You certainly see influencers that love ear stacks and necklace layering as well, so with all of that, I think people see it on social [media] and they love ‘get ready with me’ videos. It’s something that people like to emulate.”

Brands and retailers explained that classic styles are typically a go-to for first-time fine jewelry customers. With Clarity founder and CEO Anubh Shah, for one, stated he sees the rise in younger shoppers gravitating toward classic styles falling under the post-pandemic luxury shopping boom.

“[Millennials] went through recessions and some other things — a tough job market and a lot of economic conditions that didn’t support things like discretionary purchases in jewelry, especially in luxury,” he said. “What we find now is after COVID[-19] happened, there were a lot of behavioral as well as economic shifts that took place that really made people appreciate all the finer things in life. That is an opportunity for jewelry to step in and become a mode of expression.”

Heritage jewelry styles grow in popularity among younger shoppers
Tennis necklace styles from Material Good.

Some of these classic jewelry pieces, specifically diamond studs and tennis styles, have historically come with a high price tag; however, the rise in lab-grown diamonds has made these pieces more accessibly priced, making them more attractive for younger shoppers.

“An area we see people really asking for lab-grown diamonds would be, for instance, diamond studs — a category that would be price-prohibitive for many because they’re large diamonds, but they’re as classic as it gets,” Wegman said. “A lot of younger customers especially are trying to figure out how can I get in on this classic item that has a high starting price point and lab-grown is a great solution for it.”

At Ring Concierge, the brand’s Mini Diamond Tennis is its bestselling fine jewelry style and half of the brand’s top-selling pieces are composed of tennis styles, according to Wegman. The style made with natural diamonds starts at $898, in comparison to the five-digit price tags customers will find at fine jewelers like Tiffany & Co. and Cartier.

Many customers stick with the classic version of these heritage styles, but jewelers are also seeing some younger customers desire a modern twist on these styles. With tennis bracelets and necklaces, bezel settings, yellow gold and fancy diamond cuts are growing in popularity.

At Material Good, Panico stated yellow gold and colorful diamonds and gemstones, such as yellow, pink and blue sapphires, are in-demand by customers.

“We’ve definitely seen a rise with traditional pieces and we’ve honestly been creating a lot of pieces that kind of piggyback off of that to make sure that we’re feeding that clientele and giving them a fresh twist on kind of how we do things, the Material Good way,” she said.

Heritage jewelry styles grow in popularity among younger shoppers
Styles from Brilliant Earth’s zodiac collection.

Gerstein at Brilliant Earth has seen success in the jeweler’s zodiac sign signet rings, which are an updated version of the heritage style. She explained the style’s individualistic touch and antique vibe with its coin edges has made them a key style.

“What’s old always becomes new again,” she said. “We have really beautiful signets that have zodiac signs on them, so that’s a great example of a modern take on something that’s inspired by vintage pieces. Zodiacs are very much in vogue right now in terms of people expressing their individuality.”

Given the classic jewelry styles’ timeless quality, brands and retailers believe the trend will stay strong among younger customers and continue to serve as the foundation of their jewelry wardrobe.

“They’re pieces that you can wear every single day and not think about,” Panico said. “Like, I have my pendant necklaces I put on every day and I have my rings I wear every day and I just put them on. I don’t think about them. They’re classic for a reason: They’re effortless and they can be worn day to night, which is really important especially when you’re spending a lot of money on something. You want to feel like you could wear it all the time and get as much use out of it as possible.”

Best of WWD