Diamond Prices, Self-Esteem, and Market Resilience

Isaac Mostovicz writes...

Sales of diamonds, at least from the consumer’s point of view, are almost uninfluenced by the world’s economy. After all, the global diamond jewelley market is very small – $60 -70Bn and it is a drop in the bucket when compared with the size of the world economy. Say it differently, there will be always wealthy people who will buy these diamonds.

Speaking about the price of a diamond, the question is what is really its price? Let us ask even a more fundamental question: why do people buy diamond in the first place or what need does a possession of a diamond satisfy? Unfortunately, it seems as if nobody in the industry bothered to find an answer for these questions.

It took me several years of research to find out that the reason for buying diamonds is the enhancement of self-esteem. This is a complicated issue that needs to be studied in detail as to understand the role of price in marketing of diamonds and other luxury. It is enough to say that selling luxury in a discounted price is an oxymoron or shooting in the seller’s leg. Luxury has to be expensive or it will lose its attractiveness.

I have to add here two notes: first, one needs a bit of Chutzpah when asking a high price and not giving up. Second, while people will ask for a discount, they do not want it. What they say is not what they mean. They need the bargaining as they feel respected, an activity that enhanced their self-esteem but, paradoxically, they want to pay the full price for the very reason that when paying more their self-esteem increases. Unfortunately, once the jeweler imagines that the buyer might ask for a discount he is offering it immediately.

As this discounting backfires when the luxuriousness of the diamond disappears, its value declines. The decline in price is a clear indication that the industry fails to understand what it markets. While an entire generation lacks a proper education in marketing of diamonds, causing the industry to shrink in the last 25 years, the last few years were disastrous.

Organizational

The main point is that there is no leadership and the market does not know how to cope with paradoxes. You have more than enough there.

Financial

Idem. The key is that people try to close the sable when the horses are away. There is no money available and people try to raise funds even when they have to assume losses with the hope that tomorrow will be a better day. It is looking at the past, trying to fix things instead of looking at the facts, as bad as they are and ask: “what can we do now with these lousy facts?”

I would finish with two comments:

First, what surprises me is the resilience of the market. While the diamond industry is unique and cannot be comparable, I would anticipate a total collapse and low morality to happen long time ago. I am proud to be part of such an industry that show that robustness and morality are rooted deeper than the level of the balance sheet.

Second, we should be able to assess the facts without fear. The facts are there and hiding from them is useless. Trying to change them, or “fixing” them is impossible as the problems are more fundamental. Thus, it is important to face clearly the facts and ask: what can we do? There is always an alternative for those who have the courage to face reality.

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