NAJ News

Martin Rapaport urges $1 billion marketing spend on diamond engagement rings

13 Sep 2019

PARIS – Martin Rapaport, a well-known diamond industry leader, has called for more effective marketing of diamond jewellery and a $1 billion global marketing campaign promoting natural-diamond engagement rings, reports David Brough.

Speaking at the Paris Gemmological Rendez-Vous on September 9, Rapaport, head of the Rapaport Group, which has its own polished diamond price list widely used by the trade, said current generic marketing efforts did not go far enough.

Miners, supported by brands, needed to step up to the plate to reach out to consumers in a fast-changing society, he added.

The campaign would need to appeal to the emotional and ethical values of natural diamonds and should embrace recycling in a more environmentally sensitive world, Rapaport told the one-day conference, organised by the French Gemmological Association (AFG).

“Why do people buy diamonds? They are a symbol of committed love and a store of value,” Rapaport said in a lively keynote address to a packed audience of industry leaders and gemmologists.

Rapaport highlighted a tightening gap between rough and polished diamond prices, squeezing profitability of manufacturing.

“We need a bigger pie,” he said, referring to a requirement for more tailored global marketing to drive consumers to spend more on diamond jewellery.

Rapaport voiced concerns over the potential impact of the U.S.-China trade war on the global economy.

Martin Rapaport paris conference

He also said India, the world’s biggest supplier of manufactured diamonds, was unlikely to benefit in the near term from increased diamond jewellery sales into the U.S. market in the wake of reduced competition from tariff-hit China.

In other presentations, David Fisher, UK-based principal scientist of De Beers Technology, spoke of expected advances in technology that would encompass detection of even smaller diamonds than now, to below 1/3 of a point, as well as improved spectrometry.

“How far can we go? We’ll just keep pushing to detect small sizes,” Fisher said.

Improvements in diamond detection technology and an increasing proliferation of state-of-the-art machinery along the supply chain, are expected to reduce the incidence of unscrupulous mixing of undisclosed lab-grown diamonds into melee, industry executives say.

Lab-grown diamonds, which have dropped sharply in price this year, are expected to fall further in price in coming months in response to rising supplies entering the market, they add.

Rapaport reiterated that he had no plans to introduce a price list for lab-grown diamonds.

“Consumers will be turned off to all diamonds after they are burned by plummeting synthetic prices,” he said.

Alan Bronstein, president of the Natural Color Diamond Association, gave a talk about the market for natural coloured diamonds, noting that laboratory groups give varying interpretations of colour in their reports.

He declined to say whether the expected closure in 2020 of the Argyle Diamond Mine in Australia, an important origin of red and pink diamonds, would bolster the market for those stones.

Petra Diamonds’ Williamson Mine in Tanzania is another origin for pink diamonds, which are among the most sought-after at the top end of the market.

David Brough