Ethical assurances, ‘phygital’ retail strategies, branded offerings and Web3 experiences are key trends shaping how diamond consumers – in particular Gen Z – perceive and engage with diamond jewellery, according to new research published today by De Beers Group in the 2022 Diamond Insight Report, titled A new diamond world: bringing trusted brands to new generations in a digital age.
Based on previously unpublished research findings, including a new survey of 18,000 US women conducted earlier this year, the report explores how these megatrends are converging and accelerating – spurred by global events, the power of digital technology and attitudes of younger generations – to create a new future for diamond jewellery acquisition. The four trends analysed are:
Values will underpin industry value
The report found that 36 per cent of women overall and 39 per cent of Gen Z now specifically seek information on a brand’s ethical credentials when buying diamond jewellery. What is more, 40 per cent of women overall said that knowing about the positive impact of diamonds on local mining communities would make them more likely to buy diamonds, while this proportion went up to 50 per cent for Gen Z consumers, highlighting a significant opportunity for brands and retailers to capture value differentiation by clearly communicating their values and connecting end-clients to a diamond’s provenance and story.
The rise of brands
Branded diamond jewellery represented two-thirds of all diamond jewellery purchases in the US in 2021 – double the proportion in 2015 – and almost 80 per cent of all sales by value. Branded offerings appealed most to Gen Z consumers, who saw brands as contributing to their sense of self-worth and desire for self-expression. A total of 76 per cent of diamond jewellery purchases by Gen Z consumers were branded, compared with 64 per cent for Gen X and only 38 per cent for Baby Boomers. In addition, affluent consumers and those purchasing diamond jewellery for themselves were more likely to desire brands. Brands represented 74 per cent of diamond jewellery purchases among women earning more than $150,000 (compared with 65 per cent across all incomes), while 73 per cent of self-purchased diamonds were branded compared with 62 per cent for bridal and 61 per cent for gifting.
Phygital retail is here to stay
Online sales of diamond jewellery represented 25 per cent of US sales by value and 31 per cent by volume in 2021. When compared with 2015, when online represented only 14 per cent and 18 per cent of sales respectively, the acceleration of ecommerce in recent years has been remarkable. Online purchases were higher than average among Gen Z consumers (at 42 per cent of total Gen Z purchases), those self-purchasing (40 per cent of total purchases) and single women (37 per cent of total purchases). In addition, 54 per cent of online purchases in 2021 were by people buying diamond jewellery for the first time. While this was likely due to pandemic-related store closures, it also indicates a growing trust in diamond jewellery ecommerce. Importantly, 68 per cent of US consumers who had purchased diamond jewellery online said they intended to do so again in the future.
While diamond jewellery purchases made in-store still outweigh those made online, the full journey of buying diamond jewellery increasingly includes a digital component. It is this melding of the physical and digital retail experiences – ‘phygital’ – that today’s consumers most desire. In the US, around half (49 per cent) of all diamond jewellery purchases are now researched online, compared with only 29 per cent in 2015. Of that 49 per cent, 19 per cent of ultimate purchases occurred online while 30 per cent were in-store, highlighting the importance of a seamless phygital offering.
Web3 and the metaverse are potential game-changers
While a compelling phygital strategy is a must for any retailer today, the arrival of Web3, NFTs and the metaverse has the potential to open up new revenue, customer acquisition and brand opportunities for diamond jewellery brands. These nascent technologies aim to merge the physical and digital worlds in previously unforeseen ways, bringing new virtual shopping, entertainment and socialising experiences to digitally-savvy consumers. With a number of high-profile luxury brands already investing heavily in this space, it promises to be an emerging area of focus for diamond brands.
Esther Oberbeck, SVP Strategy Analytics & Insights, De Beers Group, said, “This year’s Diamond Insight Report explores four key trends that are already making their mark on the diamond industry, having been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, new technologies and evolving consumer expectations as Gen Z comes of age. The convergence of these trends means the diamond industry must prepare for a future where new, digital-native and socially-conscious consumers expect to engage with brands and retailers in fundamentally different ways to the generations that have come before them.”
Bruce Cleaver, CEO, De Beers Group, said, “The 2022 Diamond Insight Report demonstrates that the consumer trends we have been observing for some time – such as a desire to purchase more sustainably, to buy from trusted brands, to know where and how a diamond is sourced and to shop digitally – are no longer future predictions for the diamond industry. They are already in evidence today and are set to become even more prominent in the future. We have seen in recent times just how quickly areas of emerging interest, such as e-commerce and diamond provenance, can become overnight priorities for both brands and consumers. This report serves as a timely reminder that we must continue to prepare for tomorrow, today. We are on the cusp of a new diamond world and should embrace the opportunities it presents.”
The 2022 Diamond Insight Report also includes the annual Diamond Value Chain Dashboard, which tracks industry performance in 2021 and the first half of 2022, reflecting on 2021’s record performance and providing an outlook for 2022.