What do female billionaires spend their money on?

Words by Georgie Young

20 March 2024

Black and white long exposure of a woman walking in front of a painting on a wall in a gallery.

We reveal the spending habits of UHNW women – from the rocks she’s rocking to philanthropy with purpose.

It’s no secret that men and women have different spending habits. But published data about male and female billionaires’ interests, passions, and hobbies suggests that the gender difference might be even more pronounced amongst UHNWIs.

A recent report found that, as per the expected stereotypes, UHNW women spend more on fashion, theatre, animals, art, and health and wellbeing, whilst UHNW men spend more on aviation, vehicles, boating, and sports. But we don’t think this study paints a full enough picture of where today’s female billionaire puts her money. So, we looked under the hood at our Quintessentially member data – here’s what we found.

Female billionaires spend lots on high-value jewellery

Today’s wealthy woman isn’t waiting for some admirer to buy her pearls. She’s securing her own assets. Altrata’s World Ultra Wealth Report found that women account for 70 out of every 100 UHNW owners of luxury watches and jewellery – and we’ve seen the same at Quintessentially. Between 2018 and 2023, the most requested category by our female members was jewellery and watches, with members citing status, exclusivity, and service as key purchase drivers.

However, female billionaires often prefer the thrill of the chase to actually making a purchase. It’s not uncommon for them to request something with a specific cut, colour, and carat number but go quiet as soon as the piece is found – they’ve already moved on to the next thing.

Black and wite photo of a glamorous woman wearing pyjamas with feather sleeves wearing longline statement earrings, sitting on a chair and looking out of a window.
Black and white photo of a glamorous woman wearing a beautiful Indian-wedding inspired statement choker, and neckpiece of jewellery.

So, what can luxury brands learn from this? Luxury fashion houses that have license to play might gain a lot by moving into high jewellery as an adjacent category – good examples of this are Gucci’s colourful high-jewellery collections and Chanel’s novel integration of tweed-inspired designs.

It might also be the case that brands want to create pieces that emulate today’s female billionaire (discover more about who she is in our last article). For example, recent collections from Dior and Tiffany & Co. are inspired by armour and weaponry. Rather than being a shield to hide behind, these pieces are designed to attract the female UHNWI who is emboldened and empowered by her super-sized diamonds to take on the world. Or she feels emboldened and empowered – and so super-sized diamonds are a natural extension of her personality.

Women spend more on art than men

It’s official: women now outpace men in art spending. The Art Basel and UBS Survey of Global Collecting in 2023 revealed that women collectors spent a median of $72,500, compared to the $59,400 spent by men. And we found that female Quintessentially members were five times more likely than male members to request art experiences or purchase art through us.

Plus, those who spend more than $10 million annually on art tend to have a higher share of works by women (54%). This indicates increased spending on women artists amongst top collectors – and perhaps reflects the greater spending power of female billionaires who are more likely to invest in work from female artists.

A contrast image of a woman in a gallery taking photo of a silver, robotic sculpture.
Visual merchandise display of handbags in a boutique

Additionally, when faced with insecurity in more traditional investment portfolios, some UHNWIs are looking to diversify their portfolios and invest in areas they’re more familiar with. And we’ve found that mega-wealthy female collectors are moving into new kinds of art collectibles – like handbags. For example, Bonhams Knightsbridge recently auctioned a vintage Hermès Birkin bag that was owned by Jane Birkin for $135,000.

So, one of the best ways for luxury brands to attract female billionaires is to capitalise on her passion for art and establish strong ties with the art world. This could be giving her access to private galleries that are typically reserved for friends of the brand, or something more straightforward like a product or marketing collaboration. As long as it’s meaningful and high-end, she’s likely to come on board.

She secures her legacy with purposeful investments

Philanthropy is one of the biggest spend categories for female billionaires. But she’s not attending mega-galas or donating to a traditional foundation. Instead, she’s driven by the belief that a personal, hands-on approach that makes use of her experience and expertise is the way to go – she wants to have a positive impact on society now.

So, ‘giving while living’ through endowments or nimble for-profit limited liability companies is becoming increasingly popular. It offers the opportunity for like-minded benefactors and business experts to combine forces for increased impact whilst decreasing individual accountability. These new structures pledge capital to private funds and companies committed to ESG practices, seamlessly melding philanthropy with political advocacy, fuel for start-ups, and the finesse of impact investing.

Remember, these aren't just altruistic pursuits. They are strategic pathways to effect change whilst unlocking substantial profit potential. Just consider the transformative power on people, planet, and profit of investments in water filtration, energy supply, food security, or global communications. Now that’s what we call a legacy.

We’re Quintessentially Experiences – the award-winning agency behind the world’s most legendary events and experiences. We build lasting connections between businesses and high-value audiences by leading the way in events and experience strategy, activations and events, guest management and experiences, and incentives and rewards – discover more about us here.

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