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A recent study by De Beers highlights an increasing demand from consumers for better industry practices.

According to new Research by the De Beers Group, sustainability is now a big consideration when buying diamonds, on par with price and design.

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This new information came out in the 133-year-old company’s eighth annual Diamond Insight Report, titled Sustainability: shaping the future of the diamond sector.

“With sustainability being one of the key mega trends across all consumer sectors, this year’s Diamond Insight Report explores how sustainability factors are influencing consumer attitudes towards diamonds,” says Bruce Cleaver, De Beers Group CEO. 

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As is clear from the research, he says that a tipping point has been reached. “Sustainability is no longer a trend that’s coming over the horizon; it’s already one of the key considerations in diamond purchases.”

The report takes an in-depth look at the topic of sustainability in the diamond sector. This includes how sustainability considerations are influencing consumer decisions relating to natural diamonds. 

The diamond industry is already a leader in many areas relating to sustainability, according to the report. But the industry must build on its momentum and continue to place sustainability at the heart of its value proposition to meet consumer expectations for the future.

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Report numbers

More than 8,400 people across seven key consumer markets—United States, China, India, United Kingdom, France, Italy, and South Africa—were included in the study. The report found that sustainability considerations (whether the product was made in a more environmentally or socially responsible way—were influencing purchase decisions across all sectors. 

This included 60 percent of consumers and more than 80 percent of those who can sway decisions of friends and family. 

The study also found that fine jewelry ranks third, after only food and clothing, as the category most frequently purchased on the basis of sustainability considerations. One in five consumers globally bought jewelry because of its sustainability credentials in recent years. 

When it came to diamond jewelry, the study found that sustainability considerations were a key factor for consumers in all markets. Sustainability was ranked by 30 percent of consumers as their most important consideration—above price and design—when choosing a diamond.

The top five sustainability considerations for diamond consumers in the study were protection of the environment, fair worker treatment, conflict-free sourcing, supporting local communities, and diamond origin.

These trends are being led by the younger generations, with 30 percent of Millennials having bought jewelry with sustainability credentials as part of its branding, compared with only eight percent of Baby Boomers. 

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Sustainability considerations were also higher among consumers with a higher education (67 percent) and those from affluent backgrounds (70 percent).

Paying premium

The study also found that sustainability-conscious consumers were prepared to pay a premium for natural diamonds that provide evidence of sustainability credentials. 

Fifty six percent of consumers in the study said that they were willing to pay between 10 and 20 percent more for natural diamond brands that could demonstrate they operate in an environmentally and socially responsible way. Nearly 17 percent of these consumers were open to paying 25 percent or more for a sustainable natural diamond.

The more symbolic and emotive the occasion and the larger the carat weight, the more sensitive consumers were to a brand’s environmental and social values. 

Sixty-two per cent of people buying natural diamonds for weddings, engagements and anniversaries ranked sustainability factors as the most important in their purchasing decisions. This figure was 50 per cent for self-purchased diamonds, and 45 per cent for other occasions such as Christmas, Chinese Lunar New Year, Diwali and Mother’s Day. 

Values alignment

In addition to the research findings, the report also highlights numerous examples demonstrating how the diamond industry is already a sustainability leader in many areas. 

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These include supporting local communities and delivering large-scale conservation projects, increasing diversity throughout the value chain, and working toward becoming carbon neutral.  

Cleaver adds that today’s buyers of diamonds, it being a luxury product that holds deep emotional meaning, want to know that what they purchased aligns with their own values. They want the piece to have contributed to a better future for people and the planet—and they want evidence of this. 

“The natural diamond industry has an impressive—if sometimes poorly understood—recent track record in creating immense and widespread benefits throughout the value chain,” he says, “with ambitious sustainability commitments for the coming decade and beyond.” 

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As this report demonstrates, Cleaver continues, “all players in the industry must now consider how they can best connect consumers more closely to this positive impact, which will be critical to maintaining long-term consumer trust, desire and loyalty.”

The Diamond Insight Report may be found here.

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