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Commentary: The Business

How the Value And Symbolism Of Diamonds Are Likely to Change

More meaning may be invested in the symbolism of diamonds.

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OUR INDUSTRY SEEMS TO be in the midst of a monumental change as consumer values shift as the pandemic stretches on. But brands that appeal to human kindness and inner meaning can thrive even in difficult times.

As the coronavirus crisis unfolds, people are focused on their basic needs, causing many jewelry market participants to worry about the future of diamonds. Is our product even relevant, and can it comfort people in this time of grief?

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In times of uncertainty, consumers look to symbols that inspire and uplift them. Jewelry can remind people that their inner strength and beauty can help them survive any challenge. Diamonds, in particular, have an invisible light that’s always there.

The story of diamond fluorescence, or the “light within,” is something we are now exploring at Alrosa. Fluorescence is the glow you see when a stone is exposed to UV light, whether from the sun or night lights. Our research shows fluorescence has a huge market potential: 82 percent of respondents considered buying a diamond with this feature. The idea of a “hidden secret only you know” is appealing to many.

There’s a lot in the story of diamonds that hasn’t been told yet; as an industry, we have been focusing on the same messages for years. We’ve been repetitive because we had been doing well, and, sometimes, a systemic shock is required to spur innovation.

According to the Harris Poll, almost 70 percent of Americans are not planning to travel in the near future. This means many people will be spending more time at home with their loved ones. This presents an opportunity for the industry to showcase diamonds as symbols of love and hope in the midst of uncertainty.

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Historically, times of darkness are followed by recovery and growth. Some of the most amazing artwork, jewelry, and architectural masterpieces were created during the Renaissance, a period of cultural and economic rebirth that followed the devastating famine and the bubonic plague of the Middle Ages.

The Great Recession of 2008 likewise brought us new and innovative jewelry brands like Open Hearts by Jane Seymour. The collection continues to offer jewelry as a response to human emotions while appealing to security, kindness, and the need to open your heart.

Diamonds could become the symbol of resistance, of the renaissance that will inevitably follow the pandemic. But, as an industry, we need to meet our consumers’ need for an emotional connection and keep investing in the sustainable solutions that are necessary to create a better and healthier world.

We can be extremely relevant by bringing consumers beautiful products that symbolize endurance, love and inner light.

Rebecca Foerster is U.S. president of Alrosa, a Russian group of diamond mining companies.

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