Designers / Industry / Retail

Report: Resale Luxury Goods Lose Stigma And Gain Fans Across Generations


The resale marketplace, particularly for luxury goods including fine jewelry, proved hugely popular in 2021, and that trend will continue with demographics from Gen Z to baby boomers gravitating to online resale retailers to create unique looks and focus on sustainable shopping habits.

In the 2022 Luxury Consignment Report released Thursday, resale luxury goods experts at The RealReal in San Francisco say “conscious consumers” across a wide spectrum of age ranges are looking to resale as a way to create one-of-a-kind style while also shopping their values.

Jewelers who specialize in vintage or estate jewelry, as well as designers who bring recycled gems and metals into their work, could look at this report as a way to guide what to buy and how to sell it in 2022.

“At the center of this renaissance in fine jewelry is self-expression. It has become less about linear trends and more about personal style,” says Steffi Lee, the editorial manager of fine jewelry and watches for The RealReal.

Cocktail rings
The RealReal says its consumers seek fine jewelry, like these cocktail rings, for its quality and sustainability, whether it has a name brand on it or not.

“We’re noticing our customers accessorize in more playful, indulgent, and creative ways, specifically seeking out pieces that they feel personally connected to and that express who they are,” Lee says. “As consumers are less willing to subscribe to any trends or exclusively buy from a single brand, the more there is a need for variety and unique one-of-a-kind pieces.”

The 2022 Luxury Consignment Report found that classic fine jewelry brands—including Rolex, Chanel, and Tiffany & Co.—are wooing younger consumers who want distinctive looks with quality construction.

For example, The RealReal saw strong resale value in branded, vintage pieces such as Chanel necklaces, which were up 697%, and Tiffany & Co. clip-on earrings, which saw prices go up 381%.

“What I find really fascinating within our fine jewelry category is this multigenerational adoption of discovery,” Lee says. “We’re seeing pieces being passed around from generation to generation, and seeing members increasingly engage with vintage, rare, one-of-a-kind pieces that would otherwise be hard to find.”

Lee says both branded and unbranded items did extremely well on its marketplace. For example, demand for unbranded jewelry, such as cocktail rings, across Gen Z alone increased by 53%. The report’s data comes from The RealReal’s more than 24 million members and more than 22 million items sold.

“Our customers come to us for the branded, staple pieces from marquee brands, as well as for unbranded pieces from vintage styles, collaborations, and those with limited production,” Lee says. “As resale continues to grow and stigmas begin to shift, we’re seeing members starting to make more thoughtful, valuable investments for themselves and for their families.”

Tiffany & Co.
Tiffany & Co. remains one of the most popular brands on The RealReal, its report found, and the company’s pieces rose in price across the luxury consignment website.

Interestingly, consumers are not only buying for themselves, but they are also gifting these resale finds, Lee says. In other words, gifting or wearing resale is considered smart shopping.

“In 2020, we saw orders requesting gift boxes increase by 60% year over year,” Lee says. “There is a newfound acceptance of gifting secondhand and a very thoughtful, personal approach when it comes to buying items for a loved one and for themselves.”

The report also found that baby boomers are taking pieces out of their closets or jewelry boxes and posting them on websites like The RealReal. This is one way to make sure their items find new life with someone who will appreciate them, Lee says.

“It’s been interesting to see such steady growth across all categories of fine jewelry, and we’re always excited to see what our consignors will pass along next,” Lee says.

Top: Vintage Chanel, like this necklace, sells at top dollar on luxury consignment website The RealReal, and the San Francisco–based company believes this trend will continue in 2022 (all photos courtesy of The RealReal).

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Karen Dybis

By: Karen Dybis

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