There has been a big push in recent years by members of the diamond industry to better understand the purchasing habits of millennials. There has also been an increased need among millennials to have their diamonds appraised to ensure the quality and size, but also the assurance that they are buying from vendors who sustainably source.
It’s About More than the Four Cs — Don’t Forget the Two Es
Cut, clarity, color, and carat size will forever be the predominant factors when valuing a diamond, but they are not going to be the only influences when it comes to the highly educated and conscientious buyers that make up the millennial generation. There are also a couple of e-words that matter a great deal — environment and ethics.
More than ever before, buyers are aware of the problems that have plagued this industry, and they want to be sure that they aren’t contributing to unnecessary destruction of the earth or the unjust harming of human life. It is now the responsibility of the diamond manufacturers and retailers to provide the information that these consumers crave.
It’s not enough to tote the high grade of the diamonds, these buyers want to know that they are being derived from highly graded sources as well. They want to make ethically sound purchases of truly conflict-free diamonds.
It is worth the Investment?
Many retailers are concerned that it isn’t worth spending large sums of money to advertise to millennials, yet survey after survey points to one conclusion — millennials are able and ready to spend on diamonds. In one such survey, more than half the participants reported that they wanted to receive a diamond as a gift and that they preferred natural stones to LGDs.
This is good news, as many analysts feared that their frugal ways would prevent millennials from buying as their GenX and Boomer counterparts have. They don’t spend without feeling good about the investment, though, which means that the marketing campaign will only be effective if it points to ethically sourced diamonds.
Another Challenge Plaguing Natural Diamond Retailers - LGDs
There is another good reason to be wise with advertising effort. Unlike GenX and the Boomers, millennials are not as opposed to man-made stones. While they are not willing to compromise when it comes to engagement rings and wedding bands, they are apt to consider lab-grown diamonds when buying fashion jewelry.
They like that the LGDs are considered conflict-free diamonds and ethically sourced. Of those surveyed with available disposable income, more than two-thirds suggested that they would consider an LGD. That number is hugely inflated when compared to GenX and Boomers.
Millennials aren’t going to be the beginning of the end, but they do carry substantial buying force, and that means that natural diamond retailers are going to have to step up their game. The stones of greatest value are going to be those of high grade and of the highest ethical standards.
De Beers, which controls about 30 percent of the world's supply of mined stones and has vowed in the past never to sell artificial stones, announced on Tuesday that it would be launching a new company that will exclusively sell lab-grown diamonds. The new company, called Lightbox Jewelry, is aimed at millennial shoppers who are increasingly choosing to buy alternative kinds of diamonds for socially and economically conscious reasons. The jewelry, which will be available to buy starting in September, costs between $200 for a quarter-carat stone to $800 for a one-carat stone. According to a Morgan Stanley report cited by Forbes, “ … lab-grown diamonds could take 7.5 percent of the total market share by 2020.” In order to distinguish what would be "invisible to the naked eye but easily identified under magnification," Cleaver said that De Beers' “lab-grown diamonds will carry a permanent logo on the stone.”
For several years, jewelry stores fought this trend toward alternative engagement stones. Today, many are embracing it and setting up displays of dozens of non-traditional engagement bands in their display cases, as well as increased abilities to certify sustainability.