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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

2016 saw the return of positive trends throughout the diamond pipeline. However, the continued evolution of women’s roles in society and in the global economy means that new challenges and opportunities are emerging.

DIAMOND INDUSTRY VALUE CHAIN: RETURNING BALANCE

Consumer demand for diamond jewellery saw marginal growth in 2016, driven by strong performance in the US, where demand exceeded US$40 billion for the first time, while the strength of the US dollar weighed on performance in some of the other key global markets for diamond jewellery sales.

Rough diamond demand also increased in 2016, underpinned by consumer demand and the midstream re-stocking that followed a period of weaker purchases towards the end of 2015.

These trends have continued so far in 2017, with improving retail sentiment being reported in the important Chinese and Indian consumer markets. Reflecting more normal trading conditions, rough diamond sales have been steady so far this year, while rough diamond production has increased on the back of demand from cutting centres and new sources coming online.

IN FOCUS: THE CHANGING FACE OF THE FEMALE CONSUMER

The role of women in society is undergoing a significant shift for several reasons.

First, relationship dynamics are experiencing a transformation. Partnerships are now much more about the growth of the two equal individuals, as much as they are about the growth of the partnership itself.

Second, women now have much more spending power than they did in previous generations and there is a much higher degree of self-purchase than before.

And third, the way in which women perceive themselves is evolving. While there are distinct views in different countries, one constant is that womanhood is becoming more closely associated with a sense of strength and empowerment.

These changes in the profile of the female consumer have direct impacts on businesses in the diamond sector – and some of the traditional thinking about diamonds will need to be reassessed.

While the notion of love remains universal and powerful, and the core attributes of diamonds remain valued, there is an increasingly wide spectrum of meaning for diamonds. As well as commitment, they also symbolise emotions such as joy, optimism, pride and confidence.

Equally, while traditional diamond selling occasions – such as engagements and anniversaries – remain very important, successful diamond marketing will increasingly need to reflect a range of significant moments in one’s life. This may include a new job, memories of a happy holiday or ‘just because’, and should be connected to the experiential element of lives and relationships.

And all aspects of diamond promotion – including design, concept and role models – should reflect the new reality of womanhood if the industry is to capitalise on the continuing strong desire for diamond ownership.

Diamonds possess all the attributes required to symbolise femininity in the future just as strongly as they have done in the past, but the industry will need to continue evolving to fully benefit from this opportunity.