Tradition of passing down family heirlooms is dying off, research finds

The tradition of handing down family heirlooms is dying off – as less than half of adults plan to pass on something of sentimental value, according to research. A study of 2,000 people found 43 percent don’t think they have anything of true sentimental or monetary value.

Reasons cited for this shift in behaviour were modern everyday items not having as much sentimental value (18 percent), and items being more “disposable” now (21 percent).

According to the research, by Whitley Neill Gin, four in ten (41 percent) would love to be able to pass something down to future generations or friends, with over a third (35 percent) citing keeping their family’s heritage alive as their main motivation for wanting to do this.

In an ideal world, where everyone had something to leave behind, 13 percent would leave an item to a friend, rather than family.

And over a third (36 percent) currently possess something of sentimental or monetary value that has been passed down to them – with jewellery being the most received item, accounting for almost two-thirds (61 percent) of the nation’s heirlooms.

It was also cited as the item that most people believe is worth passing on – followed by books, and household items including glassware, dinner service, and cutlery.

Whitley Neill Gin is hoping to reignite the age-old tradition of passing down heirlooms – by giving 15 winners a diamond in bottles of Distiller’s Cut London Dry Gin, worth a collective £25,000.

Johnny Neill, founder of the gin brand, said: “As a family brand, whose distilling knowledge has been passed down through eight generations, we value the importance of heritage and legacy.

“Which is why we want to help others have something lovely to pass on – in this case, a diamond which can be embedded into a piece of jewellery, watch, or precious item.”

It also emerged as a nation we would prefer to receive something of sentimental value (28 percent), rather than monetary value (22 percent) – although this stance does vary between genders.

A third (33 percent) of women claimed they would prefer an item of sentimental value, while just 20 percent would prefer something of monetary value.

By contrast, men were more evenly divided, with 24 percent claiming to prefer an item of sentimental importance – and the same amount (24 percent) thinking about their finances.

Sentimental items are also valued amongst younger generations, with over a third (38 percent) of 18-24-year-olds stating that they would prefer an item which meant something special.

However, some older generations said otherwise, with nearly a quarter (24 percent) of 55-64-year-olds stating they would prefer an item of monetary value, according to the OnePoll figures.

Johnny Neill added: “Jewellery is the item that most people would like to pass on to loved ones, and premium gin and diamonds are both renowned for their quality and cut – so when thinking about what we could offer, diamonds seemed like a fitting choice.”

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