Are Millennials Truly “Killing” the Diamond Industry?
Certain facets of the media are enjoying a new craze in op-ed journalism which outlines how millennials are “killing” different industries and hurting the economy in the process. These articles love to point out everything they feel is wrong with the younger generation, but rarely do they put any thought into why millennials aren’t always keen on following the footsteps of older generations. One such article by Shareen Pathak takes this anti-millennial concept and applies it to the diamond industry.
“Pesky millennials have made swift work of everything from banks and cereal to golf and beer. Precious gemstones are next on the kill list.”
In her article titled, “Now millennials are killing diamonds, so the industry is Instagramming”, she produced what appeared to be diamond industry propaganda aimed at both shaming millennials, while counterproductively praising the diamond industry for using social media to stay relevant to millennials. This hypocrisy aside, the article made no mention of why millennials are “killing” this industry. It also made no mention of the alternative to mined diamonds which more and more millennials have started to embrace: Lab Grown Diamonds.
“A new study by MVI Marketing found millennial consumers are increasingly interested in lab-grown diamonds, especially premier diamond-engagement rings (a category that targets millennials). 70% of millennials will consider a lab-grown diamond engagement ring.”
Chemically, physically, and optically identical to mined diamonds, lab grown diamonds (also known as CVD Diamonds) have exponentially skyrocketed in popularity over recent years and millennials seem to be the driving force behind this blooming industry. Now, these are not imitations or fake diamond knockoffs like cubic zirconia or moissanite. These are real diamonds in every way. The FTC made this perfectly clear earlier this year when they unanimously ruled that a diamond is a diamond no matter if it is grown or mined. Since the only difference is the point of origin, it would be senseless to refer to grown diamonds as “fake” or “synthetic”. This news came as a big blow to the mined diamond industry who for years have been fighting the scientific innovations which have made grown diamonds a possibility.
However, this FTC ruling does not accurately account for the surge in popularity for millennials. So, what is the reason millennials have started to embrace grown diamonds? The way I see it, there are five primary reasons for this diamond revolution in young people.
1. Millennials Tend to Care More About Social Injustices
Perhaps do to the rise of social media and access to the internet in younger generations, whatever the case may be, millennials are far more aware of social injustices happening throughout the world and who/what is responsible for them. Now, it’s no secret how the mined diamond industry has continually contributed to the irreparable destruction of African communities. Watch Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2006 movie “Blood Diamond” for a more cinematic expression of these atrocities; it certainly paints a damning picture.
“There’s also an ethical concern when it comes to the origins of natural diamonds. About 65% of the world’s diamonds are mined in Africa, sometimes in war zones by forced labor, the proceeds of which are often used to fund those wars.”
– Stephanie Talmadge, GQ Magazine
Millennials are more likely to read articles, watch videos, and share on social media about these injustices. Because of this, the negative impact of diamond mining in Africa has become a far larger talking point than it used to be. If a millennial was to buy a diamond, they may be worried about where it came from and wonder if it was a product of any human rights violation. Especially when it comes to an engagement ring which is thought to be a symbol of love and responsibility. Having a history of hate and malevolence behind the diamond goes against everything they want it to represent.
With lab grown diamonds, consumers have no fear about where the diamond came from, because it was grown in a lab with zero risk of any child-labor, violence, or other human rights abuses being involved in any part of the process.
“In a recent Cone Communications survey, 87% of Americans will purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about, and millennials are more likely than other generations to research the issues a company supports and the extent to which the company contributes.”
— Marissa Peretz, FORBES MAGAZINE
2. Millennials Tend to Care More About About the Environment
Much like with social injustices, millennials have taken a far more active stance against environmental devastation in recent years. They are far more likely to buy a product if it is an eco-friendly alternative to an otherwise hurtful enterprise. The careless practice of mining diamonds has wreaked havoc on the planet, the true extent of which is still yet to be seen. This damage will likely impact the areas affected for generations, and the mined diamond industry has shown little to no sign of stopping. This is not what millennials want to hear.
The article about millennials killing diamonds failed to mention this in any way. This is most likely because the truth is:
Millennials don’t actually want to kill the diamond industry.Millennials don’t want the diamond industry to kill the planet.
Maybe it’s not as catchy, but that headline would be a far more accurate one. Lab grown diamonds leave natural resources intact since there is no excavation or mining involved in the process. So, when it comes to the environmental benefits, they are the clear choice for millennials everywhere.
3. Millennials Aren’t as Financially Stable As Older Generations Were
It’s interesting that millennials are willing to spend a bit more money on an eco-friendly product, because historically young people are far worse off financially than the previous generations. They suffer from staggering debt, high housing expenses, and a job market which offers very few entry level positions with decent starting salaries.
“Most Millennials come into the workforce carrying a much heavier debt burden than past generations, thanks to the high cost of education. With a huge percentage of income being directed to student loans, Millennials are left with less of their paycheck to spend after paying for healthcare, utilities and groceries.”
– Greg Petro, Forbes Magazine
There have been many articles like the one by Shareen Pathak which outline the other industries millennials are “killing”. They include restaurants, movie theaters, and the housing market. Although each of these institutions may have specific additional factors as to why young people aren’t participating in them as much, they all have one giant commonality: millennials can’t afford them. Affording a downpayment and a mortgage for a home is an absolutely impossible task for most young people. And with restaurant and movie theatre prices escalating, these luxuries are just not as affordable as they were for previous generations.
Jewelry is no exception. The mined diamond industry has been notorious for restricting their own supply to bring up their prices and creating a perception that mined diamonds are far more rare and valuable than they actually are. What’s worse is the false idea that mined diamonds are a great investment and will increase in value over time.
Grown diamonds however, are based on understandable and logical price points. Although it still takes a lot of time and money to manufacture grown diamonds, they still sell for around 30% less than mined diamonds. And if millennials are willing to pay more for a product that is eco-friendly and socially conscious, they’re definitely willing to pay less for a something that’s more in-tune with their ideals.
4. Millennials Prefer Their Own Personal Style over the Social Stigmas of Label-Snobs
There was a time where if you shopped at a thrift shop, you were judged for it. If you bought a purse which wasn’t made by a handful of specific brands, you were judged for it. Labels were everything and sometimes more important to consumers than the actual look and fit of the jewelry they were purchasing. This age has, for the most part, come to an end.
Millennials prioritize their own personal style and aesthetics over the illusion of wealth or sophistication. They would rather spend $200 on a piece that makes them happy and looks good on them than $600 on a piece that society has deemed a respectable brand for affluent people. Labels and stigmas don’t seem to matter as much to millennials anymore. What matters is how their piece looks and how it makes them feel when they put it on in the morning.
One of the greatest aspects of lab grown diamonds is they are generally more brilliant than mined diamonds. They tend to sparkle more. Aesthetically, many feel that they just all-around look better than mined diamonds because they lack any major imperfections caused by aging and damage.
“Lab-grown diamonds lack imperfections, however, making them appear more brilliant (read: sparkly)—ideal for shoppers looking for the biggest, blingiest diamond they can afford.”
– Stephanie Talmadge, GQ Magazine
5. Millennials Want Their Jewelry to Tell a Story and Speak Their Voice
Millennials care about how a piece of jewelry looks on them, but that’s not all they care about. They like their pieces to have a story behind them. Now, this philosophy may seem contradictory since lab grown diamonds are brand new and don’t have the history behind them that mined diamonds have. But it is precisely this lack of history that gives them a story worth telling. Grown diamonds don’t have a history of violence, devastation, or malevolence behind them, whereas many mined diamonds often do. It’s their lack of story that gives them such a good story. Because the story of mined diamonds is an incredibly depressing one which is doubtful to have a happy ending.
In additional to the story behind them, lab grown diamonds also have their own unique and individual aspects which make no two diamonds alike. This may be surprising since one of the primary misconceptions about lab grown diamonds is that they are all cloned copies of each other with no unique differences.
This myth could not be further from the truth.
Therefore, every single lab grown diamond is its own unique creation. This is something millennials definitely take to heart. Between the unique and individual specifications of every lab grown diamond and the story of not contributing to social or environmental harm, lab grown diamonds definitely fit the bill for what millennials are looking for in their products.
Millennials Are NOT Killing the Diamond Industry,
They’re Revolutionizing It.
For every article about millennials “killing” something, you would think there would be one about all the different businesses they are helping to create. In the technology sector, environmental energy, and countless other industries, millennials are creating new and innovative ways for economic growth and a sustainable climate for future generations. Their switch from mined diamonds to lab grown diamonds is just one example of how young people are changing the world for the better and finally holding industries accountable for their past atrocities.
By embracing grown diamonds, millennials are speaking their voice and allowing their jewelry to truly shine.