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The New Tipping Point.

The New Tipping Point.

By Ellen Fruchtman, President

Tipping Point: the critical point in a situation, process, or system beyond which a significant and often unstoppable effect or change takes place.

We’re at a tipping point. And lab-grown diamonds have brought us here. The magnitude of which this product will affect the industry has yet to be truly felt. But, rest assured, you will feel it. Many, many years ago, I wrote an article on another product that would change the course of the retail jewelry landscape – the illustrious “bead”. Many retailers were simply trying to stay afloat during that difficult time and selling $25 beads was the easy fix. Many retailers made an enormous amount of money carrying some of these bead brands. But selling this type of product also had ramifications. It lowered average sales. Retailers were working harder. As the collective fine jewelry industry, we promoted and made it acceptable to purchase product in our retail establishments that was once relegated to the likes of JCPenney. But consumers demanded this price-point, you will say. Yes, they did. We were caught between a rock and hard place, you will say. Yes, you were. And now, selling a $5000 fashion price-point is a feat that is few and far between. The casual cultural shift would have happened either way, I suppose. Regardless, we gave it our stamp of approval.

Now we are faced with the explosion of lab-grown diamonds. There are a multitude of lab-grown companies entering the landscape. Natural diamond companies are in the business. (De Beers is addressing this issue with Lightbox the right way). Respected employees of natural diamonds are joining lab-grown companies to further the charge.

And perhaps now it’s time to once again see the forest from the trees. What will become of this industry ten years from now if we accept these diamonds into our collective retail homes? If we join the bandwagon and buy into the notion that this is what young people want? If we allow the messaging of their supposed social responsibility persuade that 28-year-old across the counter? We all know they have no intrinsic value. The question we all must ask ourselves is this: Is the short-term gain worth the long-term consequences?

The implications are far greater than what was once at stake selling a $25 bead. Diamonds represent a significant percentage of your business. Where will that business be and what value will your business have if we do nothing in our own stores to turn the messaging around?

One of our clients has stopped calling them “lab-grown” and is now calling them “factory-grown”. His point is to be more direct. Several retailers are taking a stand on their websites and being very clear why they will not sell them. One client is going on-camera and producing a video to look her customer right in the eye and tell them why this will never happen in their store. Smart retailers are recognizing how important this issue really is for their long-term success.

We are at a tipping point. By offering a product that has no intrinsic value and no story to tell, you are playing a part in shifting that conversation to the world. You are responsible for changing how diamonds are perceived. You are putting your professional stamp of approval on a product that will eventually lead to a shift so cataclysmic, there will be no going back. People will always buy natural diamonds, you say. Maybe for now. I’m not totally convinced that will be the story ten years from now. Sound strong? It is. I feel this one in my bones. And I really don’t want to turn around in 2029 and say, “I told you so”. Yes, the train has left the station. But it’s our job to hop onboard if for nothing else than to toot our own horns proudly.

If you’re passionate about your business (and this issue), contact

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