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Consider the following: diamond jewelry sales are not as good as they used to be. The decent margins wholesalers and retailers used to have on diamonds have shriveled. While luxury sales are growing, diamond jewelry sales are losing market share in the category. Consumers are losing interest in traditional diamond jewelry, opting instead for alternatives such as lab grown. Considering all this, my question to the industry is ‘what are we doing to turn this around?’
It was Valentine’s Day last Thursday, and yet, a typical media consumer saw very few Valentine’s Day jewelry ads. There were some on Instagram, very few on the news websites, some on the less and less viewed broadcast channels. The Diamond Promotion Association (DPA), which is tasked with promoting diamond jewelry was near mute. On the other side, the one company that was out there in force was Lightbox, De Beers’ lab-grown jewelry company. Ironic and disturbing mixed together.
It would seem that we have given up. Selling diamond jewelry has become really tough, and instead of actively going after the consumer market, it looks like we simply threw our hands in the air in resignation and dropped them down in exhaustion. The diamond industry appears to have lost its hunger for success.
That is no way to win in the marketplace. Instead of leading the battle cry, the large miners simply reported poor rough diamond sells. Pardon the sarcastic expression, but duh! Of course sales are poor. Manufacturers are sitting on a large supply, jewelry manufacturers are pacing their diamond purchases until they get orders, and the orders that are coming in call for fewer diamonds – because consumers are not as interested in our product anymore! We are no longer in hot demand!
The diamond industry needs to get up and fight for its livelihood. We need DPA to go out and act NOW. If they are not doing their job, maybe management needs to be replaced, bringing in a far more driven and focused team that wants and knows how to make a big difference.
Until the DPA gets its act together, companies up and down the diamond pipeline need to get together and form campaigns. Think long term and focused.
Beyond marketing, the industry has to reinvent itself. Traceability, ethics, new financing channels, new marketing channels, use and reliance on analytics, and so much more.
Our old ways of selling diamonds need to be keep pace with the times. We have to set aside our fear of diamond traceability, because it will only keep us behind and prevent a growing group of concerned and aware consumers from buying diamonds. Without traceability, they will buy into the promise of “ethics” spewed by the lab-grown marketers.
Hand in hand with that is our stand on ethics. Having the Kimberley Process in place is important, but not enough. Wrongdoers in the midstream need to be flushed out and denounced.
Without these two things, there won’t be a whole lot of new financing channels. We need traceability and ethics to build on them so the financial markets will have trust in diamonds. Our relationship with the financial firms needs to be cultivated, encouraged, and brought forward. We need to show the finance world that the diamond world is not opaque, diamond prices are logical, and financing the industry actually makes economic sense.
High-quality, deep-sourced analytics can be a powerful tool. Most industries in the world are already using it to grow and develop. Here, too, we lag far behind and are missing out on an important resource.
While I do see some companies enthusiastically pursuing these challenges and acting to implement them, it baffles me that the industry at large is still not moving forward as enthusiastically to adopt these or similar approaches that can drive greater consumer demand.
I will not claim to have the only truth. I’m sure many others have different ideas about how to develop the diamond industry, and their voices must be heard too. What we have in common is an understanding of the destination and that the way we are operating today just does not cut it anymore.
The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity. No one should act upon any opinion or information in this website without consulting a Professional qualified adviser.
Diamond industrialist Ehud Arye Laniado is a man passionate about diamonds. From his early 20s in Africa and later in Belgium honing his expertise in forecasting the value of polished diamonds by examining rough diamonds by hand, till today four decades later, as chairman of his international diamond businesses spanning mining, exploration, rough and polished diamond valuation, trading, manufacturing, retail and consultancy services, Laniado has mastered both the miniscule details of evaluating and pricing individual rough diamonds and the entire structure of the diamond industry. Today, his global operations are at the forefront of the industry, recognised in diamond capitals from Mumbai to Tel Aviv and Hong Kong to New York.