Commodity or love – You be the judge

Edahn Golan

Diamonds are touted as the ultimate symbol of love – beautiful, everlasting and precious. A cynic may add rare to this list. From “A diamond is forever,” to “Every kiss begins with Kay,” the association with love has always been a key component of marketing diamonds. This association is so strong that diamond traders – people removed from the retail experience – recoil at the mere mention that diamonds are a commodity, almost throwing salt over their shoulder and spitting on the sidewalk, as if it the notion was a curse or at the very least an omen of bad luck.

But why? Everything in the life of a diamond thorough the industrial pipeline is financial, commercial and measured by value. The consideration to mine a resource weighs the cost of production and marketing against the expected value of the mined goods. Rough, and even more so polished diamonds, are traded based on fine characteristics from weight and color to the specific location of a blemish inside the stone. A dark inclusion near the table of a diamond means a different discount than a white inclusion in the same spot.

So not only is a diamond defined by its characteristics, it is also priced according to them. This is no different from cotton, coffee beans or wheat. These commodities are also traded based on their specific price-influencing characteristics.

It is not only physical characteristics that influence a diamond’s price, supply and demand are also important factors, pushing down or lifting up the price.

It’s important to recognize diamonds for what they are, and in all honesty, there probably is not a single serious trader that does not realize this, despite recoiling at uttering the term “’commodity”’ aloud.

So why the odd reaction? Some may still hold to the old notion that whatever discloses anything about the trade must be brushed under the carpet. Others do this with the end consumer in mind, thinking of how a happy Joe may enter a store with a price list (Imagine the horror, an informed consumer!!!)

But there is a great advantage to talking in terms of a commodity. It opens up a whole new arena of business. In the past few years, numerous efforts were made to find inroads for the financial markets to invest in diamonds. Some petered out, while others keep moving forward.

There are many obstacles on the road to a successful venture. Some of them are simply a search for models that make financial sense, but some are higher hurdles, such as understanding the diamond pipeline, and how the industry works. These efforts are faced with a skeptical business press that repeatedly circles a few points – fungibility, transparency and integrity.

There is nothing to be done about fungibility. Diamonds are not a cohesive creation as gold is, but neither are coffee beans or wheat.

Transparency is the heart of the matter. Once resolved, much of the discussion about integrity – really a reputational issue – will be largely resolved.

Transparency is at the heart because it is what stands between evolving and staying behind. There are keys that unlock growth. The industrial revolution unlocked great economic growth. The development of HTML allowed the 40 year-old Internet to shift from a small academic network to the omnipresent Net we live with today. 

For diamonds to experience such an evolution, transparency is needed. It will allow the financial sector to understand the diamond sector, remove barriers of mistrust, known prices will bring investors in, and the invested funds will finance – directly or indirectly – everything from new mines to consumer marketing. These changes are needed, burning, and the benefits will be far reaching.

And yes, if the industry opens up, it will be better able to talk “love” with consumers. We need not worry about consumers knowing the price of a commodity because as consumers we don’t base our buying decisions on it. We don’t think of the price of cotton when we buy a shirt or the wholesale price of wheat when buying flour or bread.

And just as vacation packages are sold based on an exotic destination, cars for being cool or handbags for being fashionable, so can diamond jewelry be offered for their prestige, design, luxurious qualities and heartfelt emotions.

In fact, there is no real need to choose between love or commodity – we will quite simply, have both.

Source Idexonline