Consumers keen to buy created diamonds

4th June 2010 By: Henry Lazenby - Creamer Media Deputy Editor: North America

Astudy by market research group MVI Marketing’s consumer research division, the Jewelry Consumer Opinion Council (JCOC), points to US consumers becoming increasingly aware of the negative issues involved in mined diamonds and, as a result, being more keen to opt for created diamond alternatives.

The JCOC’s study, entitled Consumer Perceptions of Created Diamond Alter- natives, was conducted during December 2009 and January 2010 and obtained a total of 1 478 respondents participating in the study.

The report states that, since becoming aware of the issues related to mined diamonds, most respondents have made decisions that may curb buying habits of mined diamonds. Eleven per cent of the respondents report that they have decided not to buy or request mined diamond jewellery, 8% report they have decided not to give mined diamond jewellery as a gift, 18% report they have told family and friends about the issues, and 16% report that when they look for jewellery, they look for created diamond alternatives.

“Clearly, consumers are becoming more aware of the challenges faced in the mining of diamonds. “It is only natural for the consumer to consider man-made alternatives if their concerns about those challenges grow,” MVI CEO Marty Hurwitz says.

Respondents are split equally when asked to choose between a style of jewellery with a mined diamond, and a style of jewellery with a created diamond alter- native, where both were equal in stone size and brilliance. Hurwitz says that, when price was added into the equation, 60% of respondents reported they would choose the mined diamond and 40% the created diamond alternative.

A series of progressive price comparisons presented to respondents yielded an increasing likelihood to buy the created diamond alternative as the price differential between mined diamonds and the created diamond alternative grew. Based on the responses to the price questions, it appears that only 25% of respondents would not request or buy created diamond alternative jewellery no matter what the price differences were.

“This represents a major decrease compared with past JCOC studies,” Hurwitz says.

After reviewing descriptions of five major brands of created diamond alter- natives in the US, respondents were questioned about their preferences over a range of criteria and jewellery categories. Both Apollo and Diamond Nexus received favourable rankings by respondents to the all-important category of engagement rings, the report states.

MVI Marketing president Liz Chatelain tells Mining Weekly that a number of par- ticipants in the diamond-mining industry did not like the outcomes of the study.

“The interest, fascination and desire for mined diamonds have not dwindled much in the US but, at the same time, consumers are exposed to negative headline-grabbing statements and images, concerning legal and illegal diamond mining. “The questions we asked were: How much do consumers know already, and how will it affect their purchasing decisions?”

She says that for every negative headline, there needs to be five positive headlines to maintain a balance of perception in consumers’ minds. “Where is the industry’s counterbalance public relations campaign, I wonder?” Chatelain concludes.