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Synthetic headlines just grow confusion

I don’t know about you, but I’m totally confused. Regular readers will know that more often these days, I don’t know whether I’m Arthur or Martha – or in this age of gender equality, just ‘Ar’!

And what adds to my puzzlement and woe is synthetic diamonds. You see, one day the lab-grown market is booming and the next it isn’t.

The media reports are all over the place – not to mention contradictory.

Example: One media report last month was headlined, “Here’s why more people are buying lab-grown diamonds”. However, the very next day, the headlines read: “Wholesale prices for lab-grown diamonds have fallen by 60 per cent, claims De Beers”.

Can we have so much change within a 24-hour period?

Now, I’m no economic expert and I’m sure I’d flunk the exam to join the Economic Society of Australia, but hear me out – if more people are buying lab-grown diamonds, the wholesale prices would not be falling, would they?

Sure, the report of a 60 per cent decline in prices came from De Beers, a company with a vested interest in the market – however, pretty much all articles on lab-grown diamonds are from people with a vested interest!

That said, it would appear that the people with the loudest voices at the moment are those who are saying – or shouting – things like: “Lab-grown diamonds: they’re real, and they’re spectacular”, “Lab-grown diamonds are here to stay”, “How ethical diamonds are changing the industry” and “Lab diamonds will be jewellers’ hot rock this Valentine’s Day and beyond”.

"Natural diamond producers are not winning the PR war at the moment – they are being out-shouted by the lab-grown side."

The natural diamond producers are not winning the PR war at the moment – they are being out-shouted by the lab-grown side. One reason for this is that synthetics are the flavour of the month, which means the media jumps on the bandwagon.

Moreover, in this digital, 24-hour news cycle age, consumer media is always looking for copy to fill webpages, regardless of the accuracy or efficacy of the content. This can, and often does, lead to spurious claims about the benefits of lab-grown diamonds going unchallenged.

Don’t get me wrong; I have no problem with synthetic diamonds. After all, I started writing about them in 2005, when I suggested that De Beers should enter the market. I asked, “Have you ever seen a game won by a spectator?”

And while De Beers is no longer a spectator, it is in the unusual position of playing on both sides. The most important issue is the future of the diamond category.

Are lab-grown diamonds a threat to natural diamonds? Of course they are; it’s simply how the market will be divided – and expanded – in the years to come. They ain’t going away, and nor should they – just like Japanese quartz watches found their place around the Swiss brands in the 1970s.

The current challenge lies on the side of natural diamonds; they need more voice right now as they are being out-promoted by the synthetic side.

Yes, it’s a game, and while we are still playing the first quarter, the A-team needs to reconsider its offence for the second quarter.

The new kids on the block – playing as the underdogs – probably have the crowd’s sympathy.

That will change; consumers are a fickle lot and the lab-grown fanboys will lose their enthusiasm. But the A-team seems to be resting on past glories, perhaps not realising to what extent the game has changed.

They are the old guard facing the upstarts who are full of enthusiasm, and who finally made it to the Big League.

It’s their showtime!

The natural diamond producers need a stronger voice, a louder cheer and a much larger promotional campaign. It’s time for their PR experience to shine.











ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Coleby Nicholson • Managing Editor

Managing Editor • Jeweller Magazine


Coleby Nicholson is publisher and managing editor of Jeweller magazine. He has covered the jewellery industry for more than a decade and specialises in business-to-business aspects of the industry.









Thursday, 21 March, 2019 09:04pm
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