We at AIDIA are bullish on diamonds. We love diamonds. All diamonds. As a symbol of love, this most durable of gemstones is unbeatable. Diamond has a hardness of 10 at the top of the famous Mohs hardness scale, and it is incredibly scratch-resistant. What a great metaphor for the endurance of love between two people, despite the hard knocks that life sometimes throws at all of us.
For this reason, I welcomed the recent news that an organization in the mined diamond industry, called the Diamond Producers Association, is plowing $57 million into promoting mined diamonds during 2017, a quadrupling of the group’s 2016 budget. I realize that I have a rather unusual attitude for a lab-grown diamond company owner, as perhaps I should be seeing mined diamonds as my competitor.
But the thing is, I don’t. Lab-grown diamonds and mined diamonds both have those beautiful qualities of endurance and hardness, and any promotion that celebrates diamond is good with me.
I wish the opposite were true, too. I wish more people from the mined diamond industry saw the lab-grown diamond industry’s effort to promote its products as “additive” to a love for diamonds, rather than a threat. Luckily, traditionalists in the diamond and jewelry industry, who used to be opposed to all lab-grown gems, are beginning to acknowledge that, as long as consumers can differentiate which kind of diamond they’re buying (mined or lab-grown) – we’re all cool with all diamond all the time. After all, none of our products is cheap – we’re all in the luxury sector!
The traditional industry’s gradually changing attitude towards lab-grown diamonds reminds me of a similar change that took place in another sector – the fine wine industry. It’s hard to believe now, given the magnificence of so many California wines, but there was a time in the 1960’s when no proper wine enthusiast would buy American wines. “Most California wine … is belly wash,” Fortune magazine once famously said! Though traditionalists balked, the California wine makers kept learning and improving their product – despite negative ads and attitudes.
Then, in 1976, the unimaginable happened. At a very posh, Parisian blind wine tasting of chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon from France and California, California wines rated best in each category! The tasters, who were wine connoisseurs, were flabbergasted. The event came to be known as the “Judgment of Paris,” and from that point on, sales of California wine started to take off. The legendary “French Chef” Julia Child added her blessing when she began suggesting both French and California wine “counterparts” to accompany the meals she prepared on her wildly popular TV show of the 1960s and 1970s. A cartoon from the time says it all. It shows a wine lover announcing to his wine merchant that he was switching from French to domestic wine.
At first, traditional wine importers very aggressively lobbied against the new wineries and a real “marketing fight” started, where both old-world wine importers and new-world wine producers were trying to make a case for their product (in some cases the importers told the newcomers they could not call their product “wine” if it was not from either France, Italy or Spain!). This would be like the mined diamond industry saying lab-growns couldn’t use the word “diamond” to describe our stones. As we all know, a lab-grown diamond is identical to a mined diamond physically, chemically, optically, thermally, and visually, with the same hardness, durability, brilliance and sparkle.
But a funny thing happened with all the wine promotion going on from all quarters. Overall wine consumption in the U.S. started to grow, and more and more people formed the wine drinking habit. This, in a country that had been known for its mixed cocktails and beer culture. That’s the effect I see happening in terms of the increased marketing for both mined and lab-grown diamonds. Consumers are seeing more imagery of diamonds and it is growing the category.
Now you know why I’m so supportive of the new DPA promotion of mined diamonds!
Today, you can choose from a wide array of diamond types. If you feel strongly that all mining is problematic, you can purchase a lab-grown diamond. Otherwise, if you’d like to support poor miners in places where diamond mining is their only trade, or if you want to be certain of a diamond’s entire journey from mine to market, you can purchase from either a jeweler or a diamond brand that can guarantee they are able to track their gems.
Like wine, diamond is one of the greatest pleasures of life. And choice is a good thing.