We recently conducted a survey of people aged between 18 and 35 to discover whether heirlooms were still important to younger generations. The results surprised us, with diamonds and jewellery being the only coveted items.

The survey even revealed that people would be happy to sell other sentimental heirlooms rather than storing them.

68% of Millennials and Gen Zs who took part in the survey are interested in having Jewellery or watches passed down to them. This is compared to only 32% who would accept treasured family photo albums, 9% who would keep letters or diaries and a tiny 7% who would like to inherit a relative’s wedding dress.

Selling Treasured Items

Bucking the trend of previous generations, due to lack of space and a growing trend in “minimalist” living, younger generations are turning down certain treasured sentimental items from relatives, choosing instead to donate them to charity (26.05%) or sell them (50.12%).

Smaller homes, apartments and urban living mean less space for storing items that would only be used once a year, or every few years. This means china plates and treasured ornaments have fallen out of fashion, and big, bulky items like furniture pieces are getting rejected as well.

In regards to clothes, fashion has changed dramatically over the decades that wedding dresses are being donated or sold, rather than re-worn or customised, as used to be the tradition.

 Jewellery Stands The Test of Time

rose-gold-morganite-3-stone-ring

However, the one item that did stand out as coveted by younger generations was jewellery – particularly engagement rings and wedding bands. These small, yet sentimental items are easy to store and can potentially increase in value – meaning they make perfect keepsakes for younger generations.

Altered and amended jewellery has also grown in popularity, with Hancocks seeing an increase in people looking to add their own twist on their inherited ring over the past few years.  

Sarah Heib at Hancocks Jewellers said:

“The results of this survey are in line with what we predicted. Everywhere in the world, jewellery represents an important aspect of someone’s life, be it engagement rings or wedding bands, legacy pieces that have been in the family for generations or pieces gifted after the birth of a child.

“As it’s now easy to get these pieces customised for the tastes of a new generation, it’s no surprise that Millennials and Gen Z would choose to keep high-end pieces of jewellery from their older relatives, and choose to discard other traditional items.”

Should you invest in a jewellery heirloom?

The majority of the younger generation want jewellery passed down to them, and many have also made an investment themselves in a jewellery item that will stand the test of time and eventually be passed down to their family members.

Both new and old jewellery can be a fantastic gift for the loved one in your life, passed from parents to children as people start their own families.

As the results show, changing tastes and lifestyles are reflective in attitudes to heirlooms. The one exception to this is quality pieces of jewellery, that can stay in the family for generations and represent lasting ties.

Survey Results

Which of the following ‘heirlooms’ would you be most interested in having passed down to you?

  • Wedding Dress – 7.59%
  • Furniture – 0.73%
  • Jewellery or watch – 68.41%

  • Letters/Diaries – 9.58%
  • Old Photos – 32.12%
  • China/Ornaments – 3.45%

What would you do with an inherited heirloom you didn’t want?

  • Keep it – 23.83%
  • Sell it – 50.12%
  • Donate it to charity – 26.05%