This is my first message to the IDMA membership and the diamond business community at large, since I was elected as Secretary General during the recent 37th World Diamond Congress in Dubai. For those who do not have me yet, I am Kim Lanny, Chairman of the Botswana Diamond Manufacturers Association (BDMA).
The very last item of IDMA’s Weekly Internet News Collection (WINC), which was distributed on July 12th, on a tweet sent by the Economist under the header: “Why aren’t millennials buying diamonds?” The tweet linked to an article published in the publication under the title “Shine on: the diamond industry. ”
The good news is that the answer provided by the Economist seems to have no bearing on the Millennials: “Young consumers increasingly shun the taint of conflict and exploitation, and middlemen have been hit as banks balk at gemstones’ untraceability. Laboratory-made gem diamonds, grown using a technique called chemical vapour deposition, are emerging as rivals; these near-perfect crystals bear none of the messy ethical implications of the mined stones.”
The bad news is that while the Economist had it wrong, its explanation caused a deluge of reactions – and ridicule - from millennials in the world. Here are a few of their answers
- “Our average salary is £22,000 and 79% of us are in debt.”
- “Maybe food, rent, clothing, transport, leisure, travel, adventure, education and health are a bit more important.”
- “NAHHH We're all investing in rubies. Oh, & trying to pay back $25K in student loans while unemployed.”
Stephanie Caudle, a blogger for the Huffington Post wrote that “…the truth behind many of their tweets proved to be eye opening for many outsiders who don’t seem to recognize the issues that plagues this millennial generation.”
Further she wrote that “Millennials are in debt and lots of it. In fact, it was recently reported that millennials are in more debt than their baby boomer’s parents. The majority of the debt is in student loans which has reached a national debt of $1.3 trillion. If millennials are going to break the bank it appears they’re going to do it for their educational needs before they sacrifice it on a gem that has no physical value...the consensus came down to one thing, most simply can’t afford it. Many millennials may be identified as irresponsible but forgoing the purchase of diamond seems pretty responsible. To partially quote Jay- Z ‘I got 99 problems but a diamond ain’t one.’”
I am a millennial and do ‘get’ the predicament so many young, educated people find themselves in. Fortunately, I have the privilege of working in the diamond industry. I love working with diamonds, and with the people who turn them into the shiny treasures they are. Here in Gabarone, Botswana, around 20 or so companies polish diamonds - to make a profit, but also to make a difference in the country, town and community we work and live in.
It is obvious that we have a tremendous task in convincing the Millennials - those that already have come into money and those that will, at some point, come into it – that diamond do good and are and will remain the ultimate symbol of love and commitment in a relationship between two people who have committed to share their lives.
I trust that the campaigns that are under development by the World Diamond Mark and the Diamond Producers Association will help retail jewelers cope with the changing landscape of their businesses. Clearly, if we do not come together and support these projects, we will be in dire straits. On the other hand, I’ve quickly learned that to be a successful diamantaire, unabated optimism is a required characteristic. So let’s work hard, together with our retail clients, to make the next sales season a success!