A diamond’s journey: Middle East’s millenials care
Blood diamonds still exist, and the international industry is yet unable to fully regulate the trade and ensure responsible diamond sourcing, but does the Middle East care?
“Responsibly sourced” diamonds or “conflict-free” diamonds are those sourced, polished and delivered with particular care and adherence to best business practices, which ensures the rights of humans involved in the sourcing and polishing the diamonds from the source markets. This is as opposed to conflict diamonds or blood diamonds, which are sourced, polished and delivered through a process full of bad business practices like smuggling and child labour.
Dubai-based Damas, the Middle East’s leading international jewelry and watches retailer, and Forevermark Diamonds, from the De Beers Group, have marked their official partnership by launching the new Damas Classics collection. Damas has already been using Forevermark diamonds in some of its creations over the past four years.
The bespoke collection is created using only “ethically and responsibly sourced” Forevermark diamonds. According to the brand, less than one per cent of sourced diamonds qualify to be Forevermark diamond, as they adhere to more detailed parameters than the common cut, carat weight, colour and clarity (4Cs), which are the common standards for assessing the value of diamonds.
“There is a growing desire among consumers today to know that if they are fortunate enough to be able to buy and enjoy luxury products, that they also want to feel that those products not only have not done any harm, but that that the companies they are buying from are also good corporate citizens and making sure that product has a positive impact,” Stephen Lussier, CEO at Forevermark Diamonds, told AMEinfo on the sidelines of the launch event.
“They associate that also with the quality of the product that that company brings, so it is sort of a simple expression: they might think that if a company is that concerned in looking after the communities in which they are working, they must also be looking after me as a consumer when it comes to the product, so I can trust that company,” he added.
The Forevermark diamond process takes pride in having a “rigorous” selection journey and applying the best practices in sourcing its diamonds.
Each Forevermark diamond has a unique inscription number inside the gem, which serves as assurance of the integrity, uniqueness and patina record for every stone. Forevermark claims to be the only diamond supplier in the world to follow this technology provided by the De Beers Group.
With the vast majority of animal rights, human rights and other rights movements emerging from Western counties, it might seem like consumers in the Middle East are do not pay much attention to the background of products.
However, Anan Fakhreddin, CEO at Damas, said that from his experience, Middle Eastern consumers, especially those of younger ages, are definitely aware and care.
“Especially when it comes to responsible sourcing, the younger segments are definitely more interested, but this doesn’t undermine the interest of older segments,” Fakhreddin told AMEinfo.
“I think it is mostly because of their exposure to media and consumption of the internet. They are more aware, much earlier on, than those belonging to other age groups,” he added.
Fakhreddin noted that the UAE was the first country to take part in the global control and regulation of the industry; hence, Damas adheres to international regulations on all operational levels.
“We carefully select our suppliers to make sure that, even in their sourcing, they adhere to the rules and regulations that govern the industry globally. So, today, we internally deploy a system of warrantees to make sure that we know not only what our suppliers are doing, but also what their suppliers are doing, to ensure that from the source, every product, whether a piece of diamond or a piece of jewellery, is 100 per cent compliant with the rules and regulations,” Fakhreddin explained.
Diamonds are forever?
Diamonds, precious stones and metals, and expensive jewellery in general may have been seen a better fit earlier for an older generation. However, according to industry executives, diamonds hold a special value for today’s millennials.
“The younger generation still has very high desire for diamonds; they hold them up on a pedestal on luxury goods. It is amongst the top things that they would want if they are receiving a very special gift,” Lussier said, adding that the “shareable experience” element is the new thing and that it was the responsibility of the brand to make such moments shareable, especially those involving symbolic diamond gift-giving, like marriage proposals.
Moreover, it seems like younger women are no longer waiting around for special occasions – or for Prince Charming – to buy them diamonds. They are walking into the stores and buying for themselves.
“More young women are buying diamonds for themselves. This trend did not exist a generation ago. Then, diamonds had to always be gifted,” Lussier said.
“Today, young women are still happy about receiving gifts, but if they like something in particular, they would buy it, just like they buy a luxury bag, for example, or more ornamental jewellery as opposed to the symbolic pieces,” he added.