One of my favorite quotes is by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus who said that “Change is the only constant in life.” Wikipedia states that “Heraclitus was famous for his insistence on ever-present change as being the fundamental essence of the universe…”
Some 2500 years later, this philosopher’s pearls of wisdom are still fresh and applicable, also to the diamond, gem and jewellery industry and trade in which many of my blog’s readers make, or try to make, a living in.
Currently, one of the world’s global most contended problems is climate change. There seem to be two camps: those who believe climate change will cause the sea levels to rise significantly and consequently endanger the lives billions of people. And then there are those who flatly deny global warming, disregard it or even ridicule it. Apres nous le deluge….
In the diamond industry and trade, we are also facing a sort of climate change that many gladly disregard. But the diamond industry is in danger of a meltdown that, if not addressed and remedied, will most probably destroy it or change it beyond recognition.
How so? Let’s compare the diamond industry and its production to an iceberg that floats in the Luxury Products Ocean. The bulk of the 40 million carats – roughly 90 percent – of all diamonds mined annually are cut into melee-sized stones.
Is the iceberg a good metaphor to describe the diamond industry?
Yes, it is.
After all, every 9 out of each 10 diamonds cut and polished is below 0.05 ct., and just like with a real iceberg, this production remains – almost – invisible, with about 90 percent of the annual production floating “below the surface.”
These are the stones that have no “individual identity” and end up in mass marketed, cheaper diamond jewellery such as rings, pendants, studs that are set with many dozens of stones, each weighing just a few carat points. You know what I am talking about. At trade shows, you’ve all walked past the endless rows of stands that carry this kind of mass-produced, uninspired, run- of-the-mill jewelry.
On the other hand, the ‘visible’ part of the (diamond) iceberg is made up of those diamonds that are most actively marketed to the consumer, i.e. the larger, more sizable and impressive diamonds that look good in ads and other promotional materials. These are the diamonds that are featured in the various diamond price lists, listed together with their diamond grading reports and that are displayed in the showcases of Indian, Belgian, Israeli and American diamantaires and sold at international trade shows or during the various diamond buyers weeks held at select diamond bourses.
The diamond iceberg, however, is in danger. Just like global warming ultimately can be blamed on the actions of humanity, the possible meltdown and collapse of the diamond iceberg is the responsibility of the diamond industry and trade.
I’ve written about it in an earlier blog, too. If across the board, the diamond industry cannot guarantee its clients – jewelry manufacturers and retailers, and ultimately the consumers – that the melee it sells is guaranteed to be 100 percent natural, without contamination of synthetics, the diamond iceberg will melt down and collapse. In other words: if the downstream market loses its trust in the provenance of the diamonds it buys, it will affect the entire diamond production. Without the base – 90 percent of the annual production – to support the top ten percent of the diamond iceberg, will be affected as well.
I don’t know about the chances of countering global warming and climate change, but in case of the diamond iceberg, the diamond industry and trade can prevent a meltdown.
Does it want to? Time will tell.