Whether it’s Rolex watches, designer handbags, or expensive cars, luxury items have undeniable appeal. Of course, many expensive purchases are made simply because people have the disposable income to spare – but there are plenty of other reasons for consumers attraction to luxury goods. In this article, bespoke jewellers Angelic Diamonds investigate the market for expensive goods and what attracts customers to purchase a luxury item.
Many popular theories are based around luxury goods as a reflection of social status. In one argument by French philosopher, Pierre Bourdieu, it was suggested that the things that consumers buy are ways of communicating a ‘symbolic hierarchy’ to others — a way to distinguish their place in society. Other research found that women purchased designer handbags and shoes in order to signal status — it can be one way of preventing other women from going near their man. The attitude of the buyer also determines if they are likely to make a luxury purchase. Age can affect these attitudes, too. By 2025, Bain & Company predicts that Millennials and Generation Z will account for 45% of the global personal luxury goods market.
E-commerce has also influenced the luxury market. In fact, 70% of luxury purchases are influenced by online interactions. The availability of luxury ecommerce also meant that 14% of buyers aged 18 to 24 were found to have made their first luxury purchase over the internet. A range of things can determine the price tag of the product. This could be the quality of materials that were used to make it, the level of craftsmanship that was required or even just the brand whose product it is. Two materials that often bump up the cost of an item are diamonds and gold — but why?
For hundreds of years, gold has been associated with power and wealth, an opinion which still holds true in 2020. Compared to many of the other elements in the periodic table, gold is one of the least-reactive. This means that it is less likely to corrode when used. The metal also doesn’t rust and is aesthetically pleasing, plus it’s versatile! We’ve seen many items crafted out of gold or fitted with gold plates to add value. Take a look at the following:
- Costing $999,999 (£707,799) is the GoVacuum GV62711. Features include: a 14-inch cleaning nozzle, a weight of 16 pounds and gold plating. There were only 100 of these products made — true exclusives.
- Another standard product made expensive by the addition of gold is the 24-carat gold shoelaces. These cost a pricey $19,000 (£13,448) or shoppers can opt for the silver shoelaces which would set them back $3,000 (£2,123)
Diamonds are similarly coveted. At one point in time, they were reserved for royalty — making them a stone owned by the rich and wealthy and sought after by everyone else.
The price of a diamond is determined by the four C’s; These are clarity, carat, colour and cut. Clarity refers to the overall appearance of the diamond, which can be affected by ‘inclusions’ and ‘blemishes’. These are often not visible to the naked eye but are found through analysis by an expert. The weight of the diamond is expressed through the carat weight — a metric ‘carat’ is defined by 200 milligrams. Moving over to colour, a pure diamond is truly colourless and more valuable than one which has a presence of colour. Lastly, the cut grade of a diamond determines how well it sparkles due to its interaction with light.
Luxury products are often encrusted with diamonds to drive up the price. Take a look at the following, for example:
- Potentially the most expensive pair of shades in the world are Dolce and Gabbana’s DG2027B sunglasses. They have been crafted with a solid gold frame and studded with diamonds. To buy this luxury product would set you back $383, 609 (£271,472).
- One dog collar was valued at an astounding $3.2 million (£2.26 million). Forbes Magazine called it ‘the Bugatti of dog collars’ and it’s clear to see why. It was encrusted with 1,600 diamonds with a seven-carat, D-IF (faultless) colour-graded centrepiece and black alligator leather for the collar.
Luxury products have been popular for centuries with the rich and famous and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. While the wealthy have the funds to do so, it’s likely that they’ll continue to splash their cash on things that everyone else thinks is a bit extravagant.