It’s been awhile since Marilyn Monroe crooned that diamonds were a girl’s best friend. It’s an iconic scene, but we can’t help but wonder if Marilyn needed better friends. Or maybe just a webinar on networking skills? Like, girl, get a messaging app or something. It doesn’t hurt to have options, or to think through the price of Hollywood glamour. After all, decades before Marilyn’s star turn in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” the original Blonde Bombshell lost her hair to DIY bleach treatments. The modern shopping experience is all about information and options, and affordable engagement rings are no exception. So it makes sense that millennials aren’t as locked into diamond rings as the couples from the 1950s.
Personalizing the Story
One of the best ways you can personalize any gift is by adding a special note. Imagine a scenario where you want to surprise your girlfriend. What can be better than having some beautiful flower bouquets, hand-made chocolates, stuffed toys, and a personalized note delivered to her from BloomingBox. In terms of the experience and emotions, there is hardly anything else that will compare to this.
Losing the PR Battle
Want another cinematic illustration? Check out this shift in public perception regarding the source of traditional diamonds. If movies were people, Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) would be about to apply for social security. Blood Diamond (2006) just got its drivers license. Don’t get us wrong — today’s jewelry shoppers still buy plenty of shiny things from shady places. But think about the difference in terms of origin stories.
We have an uneasy sense that jewelry doesn’t just come from “the jewelry store.” It comes from somewhere else first. And while we don’t have a great track record of scrutinizing everything we buy online, our instincts tell us an important symbol like an engagement ring should be above suspicion. Maybe that’s why millennials are increasingly set on guilt-free gems.
Altering the Symbolism
Some of the symbolism from ring shopping has shifted. Before, there was pressure to buy a ring as proof of the kind of stability offered by two months’ steady salary. Financial security is still important. And tradition is too — hence the ring itself.
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But in a time when many couples shop for engagement rings together and share a login for a credit check app, people no longer have to buy something to prove that they can spend the money. So there’s more incentive to experiment with unique shapes and styles, especially if they are backed by a good warranty and an easy exchange policy. This frees up the couple to search for oval engagement rings for women instead of salary indicators for men.
Personalizing the Story
The narrative has shifted from pricey rocks to customized cuts. That’s because a personalized gift makes a better story than an expensive one. And if the sponsored captions of engagement ring selfies are any indication, a compelling story can be worth its weight in gold.
Upgrading the Technology
We don’t have any problem with people believing in the creative capacity of modern technology. If anything, younger generations are a bit too ready to believe in our ability to mimic nature, which is how we end up with all these “Birds Aren’t Real” conspiracies. A century ago, there were diamond heirlooms, and then there was paste costume jewelry.
Now we’ve got the kind of machinery that can casually apply a million pounds of pressure per square inch. It makes sense that we are exploring what we can do with that, as opposed to moving more than a ton of earth to get less than a carat of diamond. The result is a larger chunk on the finger that doesn’t take as much of a chunk out of the earth or the starting budget for married life.
Source: Sotnikov Misha/Shutterstock.com
Emphasizing the Experience
There’s also a premium being put on experiences, which are increasingly popular gift options. Tandem bicycles aside, experiences are a gift that can be shared in a way that many physical gifts cannot. And even the physical gifts that are given, such as jewelry, are now more in tune with shared experiences. So If you are buying jewelry around the same time that you are planning a honeymoon, it makes it easier to make sure that the ring gives you the financial flexibility to take that dream honeymoon, as well as the literal flexibility when it comes to materials that will be comfortable to wear on that hike to the waterfall.
Diamond Alternatives Are the New Shiny Things
Millennials are still dropping plenty of money on engagement rings. And while traditional diamonds don’t monopolize proposals like they used to, they are hardly an endangered species. But accessible information and upgraded technology have made diamond alternatives more popular than they have been in generations.