“Diamonds are forever” has been De Beers’ tagline for over 70 years. They’ve trained partners to save up three months of hard-earned salary for an engagement ring. They’ve coached us on the difference between cut and clarity. They told us to reject lab-made diamonds.
De Beers is introducing synthetic diamonds for as little as $200 and as much as $800. They claim recent consumer research has discovered people want “affordable fashion jewelry that may not be forever, but is perfect for right now.” This altered attitude, along with the decline in sales of rough diamonds over the past thirty years, has led the world’s largest diamond miner to satisfy the ever-changing wants, needs, and desires of consumers - especially Millennials, who would rather splurge on vacations and the latest technology than diamond jewelry.
But, how does a powerful brand pivot from pricey and precious to cheap and lab made? What happens to the equity and trust they’ve built for decades?
Let’s look at the multitude of high-end designers like Hunter and Vera Wang who have partnered with lower-end mass market retail stores like Target and Kohls. Many consumers have come to accept and embrace these collaborations and the brand is unharmed. Then again, these designers haven’t been convincing us their product is a world treasure since 1888.
Will the new line of man-made diamonds kill De Beers’ up brand? Perhaps, we the consumers will be able to separate their momentous occasion jewelry (engagement and wedding rings) from special occasion jewelry (birthday and graduation gifts, etc.). Or maybe, we’ll shift our beliefs completely and be okay with Diamonds Are For Now.