‘Green’ engagement rings take off as Gen Z ditches new diamonds
Generation Z are buying second-hand engagement rings because of the environmental impact of newly mined gemstones. Second-hand rings were considered bad luck because the jewellery was linked to a relationship that might have ended badly. But as consumers turn away from newly mined stones because of concerns about the impact of mining on the environment, they are prepared to ignore the superstition. Simon Green, co-founder of Lillicoco, an antique jewellery dealership, said consumers were increasingly conscious of the environment and sustainability, but were still looking for pieces with meaning and personality. “They appreciate the ethics and sustainability of antique jewellery, but also the way that is combined with a feeling of history,” Mr Green said. He said young buyers are also plumping for used rings to save on cost. His sales of vintage and antique rings grew 55pc between 2021 and 2022. Antique engagement rings can be found for as little as £200. Shop owner Sarah Holmes, 41, said that she and her now husband found her engagement ring while shopping in Ludlow, Shropshire. She said: “It felt nice to give an old ring a new life and story and to be loved again.” Pre- owned diamonds are typically worth much less than newly mined stones, but efforts have been made to shore up the market. Miners De Beers launched a used diamond buying scheme in 2016, after research found that it was almost impossible to sell used gems for a fair price. Harriet Kelsall, a former chairman of the National Association of Jewellers and the Institute of Registered Valuers, said younger consumers were also buying old rings to have them remade using the same stones. “We’ve noticed an enormous increase in that since about 2020 or 2019,” she said. Another option is lab- grown gems, which are identical to natural stones but come at a fraction of the cost. Global sales of lab-grown diamonds increased to £9bn last year, a rise of 38pc on 2021, a diamond industry analyst said. But unlike antique gems, the lab- grown variety have little to no resale value.