What’s the difference between old rich and nouveau riche?

WORDS WORTH (The Philippine Star) - September 5, 2015 - 10:00am

At the dinner to welcome the bestselling author of  China Rich Girlfriend and Crazy Rich Asians, Kevin Kwan was asked by one of the ladies after his speech what the difference between old riche and nouveau rich is. 

It was a simple candid question that caught a lot of the guests by surprise. There was silence for a few seconds,  then Kevin  proceeded with his  reply.

We hear of personalities being talked about as nouveau riche flaunting their wealth through social media and such ostentatious display is still not accepted by society since we were taught in school to always be low-key with whatever material possessions we have. Though it’s  a blessing to be able to live a comfortable life  and earn a lot of money during these hard times, it is always better to remain humble and sensitive to those who have less.



Patrick Rosas, beauty artist

Before, it was refinement and really good taste versus tackiness and vulgarity before. But now with a lot of people having opportunities, they have almost the same lifestyle, there’s no difference anymore. Whether old or new, it’s better than no rich at all!

Kevin Kwan, author of China Rich Girlfriend and Crazy Rich Asians


Dennis Lustico, fashion designer and athlete

New rich is excited, old rich is calm and collected; NR wants to be all over, OR is private; NR says yes all the time, OR chooses; NR has sharp edges, OR is polished and well-mannered; NR wants everybody to know, OR is utterly discreet; NR loves anything that shouts, i.e. logos, OR motivates curiosity; NR is entitled, OR respectful; NR endlessly talks, OR intently listens; NR acquires, OR gives; NR’s dogs have pedigree, OR is pedigree personified.

Mitch Valdes, comedian

This is based on personal observation only as I am neither old nor new rich. The old rich are quiet about their status with good quality and classic lifestyles. Not necessarily the most expensive but excellent nonetheless. Some new rich still have the tendency to announce “look at what I have!” and go for what’s trendy — I guess until they adjust to their new wealth. 

Ian Giron, designer

The old rich value discretion above all else. Privacy is of essence. In today’s world of social media there’s an obsessive compulsion to over-share — I love how the old rich prefer not to share. At least not everything.

Celine Lopez, writer

I think any family prospers in their own time. The element of time only gives a need for progress or a call for innovation. The historical value of wealth is only pertinent when they have changed people’s lives or at the very least have had the determined intention to. The division of such wealth is only important when the greater populace benefits from it.

Gary Lising, comedian

An old rich is a wealthy man who leaves everything to his daughter in his will. A new rich is a man who marries the daughter.

Robina Gokongwei Pe

It’s like the difference between a regular halo-halo and special halo-halo. One has ice cream on it. Which one? Secret!

Franco Laurel, artist and publisher/features editor, Lifestyle Asia

The difference between the old rich and the new rich is when they acquired their wealth, which does not really matter. The most important thing is how they live their lives. Almost everybody works hard to make a better life for themselves and their family; the thing that people should always remember when they are succeeding in life is to to remain humble and to always be grateful for their blessings.

Iris Arcenas, president/managing director, Ferimar Inc. 

The difference between the old rich and the new rich has nothing to do with how much money you have but mainly the character of the individual. The way one has built his wealth, one’s spending habit, and lifestyle are some of the attributes that define the contrast.


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