''Age Appropriate'' Jewelry: Styling for and Selling to Boomers

Design Idea E30X Earrings

by Barbara van Look, Content Development Group, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

It starts the first time you get called "Ma'am."

Then you start getting weird ads on your computer, when you go from site to site. Instead of stylish jewelry and great restaurants, you get retirement villages and incontinence pads.

You're buying a new blouse and the salesgirl tells you, with that oh-so-cheerful chirp, it looks great "because it's totally age-appropriate."

And finally, you've made this gorgeous jewelry to wear and your well-meaning friend asks you if that's "suitable" for "someone our age."

Waitaminute ... what?

"Age Appropriate" Jewelry: Styling for and Selling to Boomers

The "Boomer" Generation

Scholars, advertisers and the US Census Bureau all have slightly different ideas of when the post-WWII American "baby boom" both began and ended. However, the widespread cultural and economic effects of this demographic peak have been noticeable ever since it began.

Politics, gender roles, fashion--everything has been affected by the demographic juggernaut of the so-called "Boomer" generation. As a whole, author Landon Jones writes, this generation was the wealthiest, most active, most physically fit--and most marketed to--generation in its time. Today, the "Boomer" generation represents 44% of the US population and controls 70% of personal financial assets. They are responsible for 52% of all consumer spending.

They've also redefined the social assumptions of "aging"--just as they've redefined everything else!

Styling for the "Boomer" Generation

"Age Appropriate" Jewelry: Styling for and Selling to Boomers There's this idea that once you hit 40 (or 50 or 60--it's a moveable feast), you no longer want to be stylish. That you're only wearing loose polycotton separates and the same pair of gold stud earrings ... forever. That you're not interested in new styles, new jewelry, new colors. That you're stuck in your ways and you refuse to change.

And we both know that's so not true.

That being said, we all get ... comfortable. We take for granted that the styles that looked good on us 10 years ago still look good--not dated. And that the jewelry and accessories still seem as bright and new in our mind's eye when they're worn and dull in reality.

Of course, that can happen to all of us, at any age. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when looking at your own jewelry and accessories:
  • Check your face shape and "color season" again
    Skin and hair change. What was once a diamond-shaped face may have softened into an oval. A new haircut means new options for earrings. And while you were a "warm spring" at 20, you may be a "deep winter" now, especially if your hair color has transitioned to silver or steel.

  • Stylish--Fashionable--Trendy
    You can be perfectly on trend without being trendy. And you can certainly be stylish without being fashionable. Your style is yours--not the whimsical choices of a single designer half a world away. If one trendy metal or color doesn't look good with your skin tone, avoid it. And, of course, avoid "fast fashion" styles made of materials you may have sensitivities to. You can afford to invest in quality.
  • A decade is a long time
    If you've had a piece for over 10 years--and it's not your engagement ring or wedding band—it's probably time to freshen it up. Yes, it was expensive and you love it. How about moving that pendant to colorful cord for a fresh look? Putting embellished chain extenders on classic post earrings to create earring drops? Turning that pin into a pendant with a brooch converter?

  • Wearing less gives you more control
    Mr. T.'s look was iconic and you probably don't want to copy it. A single strong statement piece--a bold bracelet or a colorful bib necklace--gives you the power to control where the eye goes. If you must wear more jewelry, make sure the other pieces are the supporting cast to your superstar statement piece.

  • Pair high-end and mid-range pieces
    Costume jewelry and fine accessories play well with each other--just like the good girl and the boy from the wrong side of the tracks. There's a reason it worked for Coco Chanel.
Selling to the "Boomer" Generation

What if you're making and selling jewelry? How does this all matter? Well, remember that economic powerhouse part from earlier:

Today, the "Boomer" generation represents 44% of the US population and controls 70% of personal financial assets. They are responsible for 52% of all consumer spending.

You could ignore this demographic. Plenty of large companies do. Or they don't understand what this generation is all about: they're still dreaming and planning that better things are coming. It's still about what they're aspiring to see, accomplish, do and become.

Create jewelry that appeals to them, and to other generations, too!, by remembering these three ideas:

  • Mean something
    Create jewelry with meaning. Designs which feature talismans, symbols, spiritual journeys or heartfelt stories are part of the lifesblood of this generation. They still believe in the power of transformation and the benefits of change, so jewelry for a range of causes, beliefs or lifestyles will draw them to you. Create with renewable materials such as farmed wood or shell to attract the ecologically conscious. Birthstone jewelry will appeal to the family-centered. Activists will appreciate designs that show their causes' colors or use awareness ribbons.

  • Add a touch of nostalgia
    Styles that evoke the past without copying it will appeal to this demographic.

    For the light-hearted and fun styles, create miniature LP records using shrinkable plastic and add them to earrings and bracelets for a touch of nostalgia.

    And classic styles--such as a modern take on June Cleaver's pearl necklace--appeal to them, too.
"Age Appropriate" Jewelry: Styling for and Selling to Boomers
  • Keep looking forward
    This generation is thinking of their accomplishments and their aspirations. Your jewelry designs should not only fit their needs, but also their dreams. They're going to live longer than previous generations and they want to make the most of that time.

    Designs that are "in-progress" will appeal to the "Boomers"--these styles let them add the experiences they have not yet had to their personalized pieces. Styles can include charm bracelets, Dione Add A Bead jewelry, commemorative styles and more.
Don't let the idea that you are forced, either as a designer or wearer of jewelry, into a pigeonhole that confuses "age-appropriate" with "boring."

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