Almost everyone learned how diamonds were formed in a grade-school science class. The process that formed today’s diamonds started millions of years ago, deep under the earth’s surface.
Over centuries, the diamonds conceived below the surface got pushed up into the ground and discovered by people. Eventually, we decided that these ultra-hard stones were valuable, and the diamond market was born.
However, a diamond may not really be forever. Today’s diamond market is faltering, as diamond prices fall and buying stagnates. Is this the beginning of the end for the diamond industry?
In this guide, we’ll take a detailed look at the past, present, and future of diamonds. Keep reading to learn if the most beloved gemstone is still the diamond!
How Much Are Diamonds Really Worth?
Many people might be surprised to see diamond prices fall. For years, we’ve been told that these gemstones are rare and precious. However, clever marketing is actually behind the price of a diamond, rather than inherent value.
Less than a century ago, almost no one had heard of a diamond engagement ring. While a few people would propose with a diamond ring, it certainly wasn’t the expectation.
Back then, diamonds weren’t particularly rare or particularly expensive. In the late 1800s, huge South African diamond mines had started to unleash countless diamonds on the global market.
However, the people who owned those mines knew that the flood of diamonds would drive prices down. Before the turn of the century, they started taking steps to protect their future profits. They started De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd., which you’ll now recognize as the De Beers diamond company, in 1888.
Over the next few decades, De Beers worked to take control of the diamond industry as a whole. By the 1930s, the brand was powerful enough to change the face of diamonds for good. Diamonds have never had a high value, or been particularly rare. But they became desirable thanks to clever marketing.
Why Did Diamonds Become So Popular?
The De Beers company launched its diamond marketing strategy in 1938. Even during the Depression, a few diamond engagement rings were given, but they weren’t the status symbols they would soon become. In fact, the price of diamonds had fallen, and De Beers saw a way to raise them again.
The diamond company focused its marketing efforts on tying diamonds to the idea of romance. Not only that, but the brand started the notion that the bigger the diamond, the bigger the statement. Before then, big rocks weren’t necessarily symbols of success.
De Beers totally changed the narrative around diamonds. It turned them into essential items for weddings, romantic holidays, and other special occasions. In just a couple of decades, the diamond engagement ring became an essential part of culture.
People forgot that diamonds didn’t truly have a high value. The slogan “A Diamond is Forever” stuck. However, even the diamond may not be able to weather the latest economic upheavals.
Why Aren’t Millennials Buying Diamonds?
Millennials have been charged with killing countless industries, from small to large. The diamond industry is one of the big ones. But why have Millennials bucked the trend that their parents and grandparents were happy to follow?
Millennials are notoriously less attached to things than prior generations. Since they came of age around the time of the 2008 recession, as the gig economy got underway, few could afford traditional middle-class trappings like a house. As these traditions fell by the wayside, so did others, like diamonds.
Bad press around the ethical conditions of diamond mining also played a role. Many people today are more concerned about ethical shopping than ever before. They want cruelty-free makeup, organic produce, and ethically produced gemstones.
Of course, synthetic diamonds don’t carry the same ethical quandaries that mined ones do. Still, their symbolism seems lost on the younger generations.
Thanks to the rise of internet shopping, people today also gravitate more toward unique items. They might want an engagement ring that reflects their own personality, rather than one that looks like their mother’s or grandmother’s.
Finally, traditional gender roles have shifted since De Beers launched their marketing campaigns. More people today are content to marry later, or not at all. Most women aren’t waiting around for a man to give them a ring.
In short, a confluence of factors has caused people to buy fewer diamonds. Prices are falling, along with purchases. What’s next for the diamond industry?
As Diamond Prices Fall, What Does the Future Hold?
The industry may never be able to fully recover. But if it does, it will only do so using modern tactics to set it apart from the days of the De Beers stronghold.
For example, some modern companies like SuperJeweler are trying to use online sales methods to get Millennial attention. Sites like this offer heavily discounted diamonds alongside online reviews, much like Amazon and other online retailers.
Other jewelry companies are using modern tactics like social media marketing to try to get people buying. They’re also carefully targeting their customers. While the average young person may not care about diamonds, the fashion-forward among them might still invest in diamond fashion jewelry.
However, as diamond prices fall even with these new tactics, the industry has a long road ahead of it. It will take deeply creative, disruptive ideas to get diamonds back on track. If the industry can’t innovate, the era of the diamond may come to a close.
Selling Diamonds for the Modern Age
In some ways, that innovation has already started. As diamond prices fall and diamonds try to reinvent themselves, new, different, and downright weird marketing approaches have started to crop up.
For example, some people are investing in cremation diamonds as a new way to memorialize a loved one. How do you make a cremation diamond? Find out more here.