Natural is Back

Natural is back. That’s the key thing I learned from the three days I just spent at JCK in Vegas.
I’ve been at almost every JCK for the last 20 years and that was my lasting impression. There were plenty of other hot topics and it was great to catch up with so many friends and colleagues, but I’ll start with natural diamonds.
Everybody was talking about natural is making a comeback, about the importance of telling the natural diamond story and about transparency.
I heard from retailers that their biggest problem is the customers who bought lab growns a few years ago.
They’re now returning to the store, only to find there’s no way they can upgrade or get the same value they had three, four years ago. That’s hurting the consumer confidence.
There was a lab grown presence at the show, for sure, but it was smaller than the last couple of years. The big lab grown manufacturers and wholesalers were there, but the whole lab grown scene was much quieter.
And then De Beers announced, at the show, that it’s not going to produce any more lab gowns for Lightbox and that it’s switching to diamonds for industrial uses instead.
Everybody was talking about De Beers and waiting to see what will happen with Anglo American. The president of Botswana was there (his government owns 15 per cent of De Beers) and much of the conversation was about the importance of natural diamonds.
Right now the future overall looks good for the industry. That’s what I was hearing at JCK. But there’s still turbulence. People are afraid because it’s a tough and unstable market. Some are carrying on regardless, others are just putting their head down and waiting to see what will happen.
People understand that when the markets are down there are a lot of opportunities to explore, like the secondary market and new technologies such as AI to name but few.
The educational talks at JCK were much better attended than in recent years. People want more information, which is good. They want education, storytelling, compliance, and understanding.
One of the biggest problems retailers have is that new employees don’t have the same level of knowledge as the experienced owner. They’ve been there six month and they’re trying to sell a natural diamond but they don’t know enough about its story.
Another big issue was recycled diamonds, which got a lot of attention. In the next 10 years the world’s biggest diamond mine is going to be the USA, as the population gets older and passes on its valuables to the next generation.
They’ll end up back in the market and that’s a really big deal for retailers, because they can make a lot of money. We’ve been saying this for the past five years, but now the market is catching up. Let’s see how things have changed by JCK 2025.
BRON: Idex 05-06-2024