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Diamonds: A Girl’s Best Friend or a Wallet’s Nemesis?


Top Tech Trends Shaping the Future of Financial Planning

June 23, 2024

The Enduring Legacy of Diamond Marketing

One of the most enduring and well-known advertising slogans emerged in the 1940s when De Beers declared, "A Diamond is Forever." In fact, this tagline was named "The Slogan of the Century" by Advertising Age in 1999. More recently, in the movie How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Matthew McConaughey's character coined the phrase "Frost yourself," a marketing slogan that resonated with a gemstone client's campaign. But the question arises: are diamonds still forever? Do diamonds still hold the same significant value as they did in the 20th century? The answer varies.

The Ethical Dilemma of Diamonds

In today's era of social responsibility and ethical purchasing, the role of diamonds in society is under scrutiny. Diamonds are traditionally used in engagements, symbolizing commitment to a beloved partner. A diamond's sparkle, created by light reflecting through its prisms, gives wonder to the eye of the beholder. However, this beauty often comes at a significant cost.

In the late 20th century, perceptions of diamonds began to evolve. Increasing awareness of ethical issues and environmental concerns associated with diamond mining has prompted a reevaluation of these sparkling stones. These issues were poignantly depicted in the film Blood Diamond, which highlighted the brutal realities of diamond mining. Consumers are now more informed and discerning, seeking transparency and sustainability in their purchases.

De Beers' Monopoly and the Shift in the Diamond Market

For much of the 20th century, De Beers maintained a monopoly over the diamond market, controlling supply and prices. Despite U.S. antitrust laws, De Beers operated outside U.S. jurisdiction, evading legal challenges. However, the discovery of new diamond mines in the late 20th century diminished De Beers' control over the market. Consumers also realized that diamonds, while beautiful, were not as rare as once thought. In reality, diamonds are more abundant than the common copper penny laying dormant in a junk drawer, which challenges the justification for their high market prices.

The Rise of Lab-Grown Diamonds

In the past 20 years, Lab-Grown Diamonds (LGDs) have entered the market. Even companies like De Beers, who initially derided the idea of LGDs due to the "unnatural" aspect of them, have finally relented. De Beers even launched Lightbox, a line of lab-grown diamonds, and recently reduced prices to clear surplus inventory.

Visually, lab-grown and natural diamonds are indistinguishable to the naked eye. Only under a gem microscope can lab-grown diamonds be identified by their laser etching, and professional gemologists can determine their origin. In addition to jewelry, LGDs are increasingly being used in industrial applications, such as in drill bits, heat sinks, and various coatings, due to their durability and lower cost.

The Impact on Diamond Prices

What does this mean for the average diamond consumer? For starters, the increase in supply from new mines, lab-grown diamonds and the breakup of De Beers' monopoly has stabilized the market and made diamonds more affordable. According to PriceScope.com, the prices of smaller carat diamonds have decreased over the past two years. The market trend for larger carat diamonds may be poised to experience a slowdown in price appreciation and potentially decline in the near future too.

Despite the increased supply, diamond prices have not dropped as significantly as expected. This may be because the increase in industrial uses has balanced out the increase in supply, along with other factors like changes in consumer behavior and preferences, increased demand from new markets (e.g., China), marketing and pricing strategies by jewelers and retailers and overall global economic conditions.

The Future of Diamond Purchases

Diamonds continue to be cherished for their beauty and brilliance. For socially conscious buyers, lab-grown diamonds offer a compelling and cost-effective alternative, with savings up to 70% less than to traditional mined diamonds (depending on the type and quality). The diamond market is poised for continued evolution, driven by technological advancements and shifting consumer preferences. If a partner doesn't mind whether a diamond is mined or lab-created, diamonds can indeed become a wallet-friendly choice rather than a financial burden.

If you're considering buying a diamond and need help budgeting or want to learn more about sustainable investing options, contact us today to schedule a free consultation and breathe easier about life!


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About the author

Brian Watson

Brian Watson

Vice President, Private CFO®

Brian is a true Atlanta native and graduated from Walton High School. He got his Bachelor's degree in Business from Samford University in Birmingham, AL and then his Master's degree from Beeson Divinity. He is blessed to be married to his best friend, Jen, and they have 4 amazing kids (elementary, middle and high school aged). He is active in his community by serving as a deacon at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church and helps lead their Children's Worship Service called Kid's Church. He also serves on the board at East Cobb Christian School and East Side Baseball Association, coaches soccer in the Upward sports program at Johnson Ferry and coaches baseball at East Side Baseball. And if there is ever any free time from all this, he likes to run with his dog or sit on the back deck with friends/family or just read a good book.

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