In fact, old nobility became numerous by the end of Louis XIV reign, and during XVIII century, because it could be obtained for money / landowning, instead of risky business (war) or boring one (church).
Everybody wanted to become noble, not for the best seat in theatre and church, nor for holding a sword, but to get full immunity against taxes (and some advantage in trials).
The result was, when monarchy was bankrupted by successfull American war, the nobles who owned most of national whealth refused to pay- and got a shortcut.
Empire nobles were distinguished for their talent, why should they not be ? Motto of France includes Equality, not Humility (which is rather a protestant virtue than a latine one).