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Eileen McClelland

Spread It Around: Diamonds Do Good

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As jewelry retailers, questions from Millennial-generation diamond shoppers needn’t put you on the defensive, if you are proactive about conveying the message of how diamonds can make a positive difference in the world.

So says the Diamond Empowerment Fund, a global non-profit, founded in 2007 to provide education for children in diamond-producing countries. One of the groups it works with is the Diamond Development Initiative International, an effort to address the problems faced by millions of artisanal diamond diggers and their families in Africa and South America.

While such efforts are still at the core of the group’s mission, the DEF recognizes that retailers are uniquely positioned to offer a positive message about diamonds to young consumers, who are in the market for diamond jewelry but who may have questions and doubts about the industry.

The group is offering free educational materials to retailers, including a digital sales kit, counter cards, a customer brochure, and a green-diamond window seal with the message, “We Support Diamonds Do Good.”

Displaying the seal can encourage consumers to ask questions about what it means to be an ethical seller of diamonds.

At the same time, Nancy Orem Lyman, VP and executive director of DEF, is collecting specific positive stories about people, businesses and organizations that do good with diamonds, and sharing those stories on the website, DiamondsDoGood.com.

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“All the industry organizations should be talking about the Diamonds Do Good message,” Lyman says. “There is a disconnect between what consumers understand and what we know is true about the industry. We want to empower retailers with this message.”

The DEF wants retailers to be ambassadors to consumers.

“Show this seal on your window and on your website, and you become the communicator,” she says. “Empower yourselves to talk about it in that positive way – however it works for you.”

Diamonds Do Good was launched in December 2014 with funding from industry leaders at the Diamonds in the Sky Las Vegas event and with grants from the JCK Industry Fund.

Dr. Benjamin Chavis, co-founder of the DEF, also stressed the need for retailers to share positive stories about diamonds, during recent industry events.

Chavis was a featured speaker on a Diamond Power Panel presentation at the Smart Show in Chicago and in the seminar, “Connecting Powerful Diamond Stories With Customers,” during the American Gem Society Conclave in New Orleans this month.

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“We believe that the good that diamonds do, all over the world, is understated by the industry. Storytelling has always been the way to connect diamonds with the heart,” Chavis says.

By putting the Diamonds Do Good seal in your window, you can signal to customers your willingness to discuss positive steps taken in diamond mining.

“We live in a world where the negative spreads like wildfire. We have to think about how we spread that good information, how the industry is contributing to making the world better. There are millions of people out there who have an appetite for this information and we have to find a way to reach them that’s authentic.”

Board member Phyllis Bergman, president of Mercury Ring, agrees that the industry needs to be proactive on this front.

Bergman says that while the Great Recession accelerated changes and challenges in the industry, they would have come about anyway, driven in part by Internet research and the new shopping habits and social consciousness of Millennials.

“Every level of the industry today, starting with the mines to the majors to the siteholders to the manufacturers, the large retailers, the independents – there isn’t one group of people today that is not concerned about the health of our industry.

“I think they all realize that it’s not just one thing that’s going to make our industry healthy and successful. But this is one facet.

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“When that one negative story comes out you don’t have to wait to counteract it, if you have so many good stories out there talking about how good we are and how ethical we are. Otherwise, when something negative comes out, it becomes a major problem.”

Groups supported by the DEF include CIDA City Campus and the African Leadership Academy in South Africa, the Top Achievers Program in Botswana and Veerayatan in India.

Diamonds Do Good materials are available to retailers around the world at no cost. Contact Nancy Orem Lyman at [email protected], or (212) 359-4219 for more information.

Eileen McClelland is the Managing Editor of INSTORE. She believes that every jewelry store has the power of cool within them.

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