Lab-grown diamonds (LGDs) are not just gaining acceptance in the jewelry market in 2022—they’re becoming so popular that many retailers are scrambling to source them. But while some jewelry retailers are seeing skyrocketing sales with LGDs, others haven’t figured out how to sell and/or market them to their client base.
My own company, THE MVEye, is a market research and strategic consulting firm for the jewelry industry and completed the first-ever consumer research study on awareness and acceptance of lab-grown diamonds—and we’ve been studying and reporting on lab-grown diamonds ever since. The Zing Report’s been following our research and asked us to share information and best-practices for jewelry retailers in a series of articles.
First up: Best practices for training your staff on presenting and selling lab-grown diamonds to customers.
Why is training so important? As more jewelry retailers begin offering LGDs to their customers, we’ve found that it’s quality training that separates those that are doing well from those that are doing phenomenally well.
While it’s important to train every sales associate, it’s equally important to train the entire store team on this new category. In a tradition-bound industry that rarely introduces anything new, lab-grown diamonds have the potential to reshape jewelry retailing—you want to put the time into ensuring your staff is up to date on LGD advances, and that they can story-tell around the product. The impacts of LGDs have already begun; just look at the explosive growth (and retailer traffic) in the lab-grown diamond pavilion at JCK Las Vegas last month.
When selling LGDs and mined diamonds in a store, it’s never about which is better. It’s about giving consumers choices. Consumers are getting educated about lab-grown diamonds every day, in stores all over the world—and they’re increasingly asking for this product. Your job as retailer, as I see it, is to present them with a choice that is clear, concise, and unbiased. In short, let them select the diamond that’s best for them.
David Garrick, president and CEO of DeVons Jewelers in Sacramento, Calif., recently shared with m his unique perspective on holistic training for lab-grown diamonds, saying, “We introduced lab-grown diamonds into our stores in 2016, well before much of the industry, and when very little was known about them. We understood at the outset that it was essential for management to properly train our staff, who despite having many years of diamond experience, were unfamiliar with the new technology.”
The retailer established multiple training sessions utilizing both internal staff as well as representatives from various growers to provide staff “the knowledge necessary to communicate to customers the many advantages of lab-grown diamonds both in terms of beauty and cost,” he says. “DeVons has been extraordinarily successful in adding lab-grown inventory into all our jewelry categories and continues to maintain our in-store training.”
Any training in the stocking, marketing, and selling of lab-grown diamonds should include education on the following:
Who Is the Lab-Grown Diamond Consumer?
THE MVEye’s research has identified three general types of lab-grown diamond jewelry consumers:
The “In the Know” Buyer
This consumer is generally younger (25-35 years of age), well-educated, and digitally native. They will present individually or as a couple, who have heard about lab-grown diamonds from friends, family, or stories in social media. They have higher budgets for their engagement ring purchases, because of higher discretionary spending power. They love tech innovation in all consumer goods they purchase.
The “In the Dark” Buyer
This consumer is also generally younger (25-45 years of age), a bit less educated but still digitally native and may have heard something about lab-grown diamonds—but needs an introduction and an objective presentation about the choice of diamonds available today. They also love a good tech story.
The “Upgraders” Buyer
This consumer is generally older (50 years of age and older) and not digitally native. But they couldn’t necessarily afford a large center stone when they first got engaged. Now in their senior years, they’re looking to upgrade.
The Size-to-Value Equation
Everyone shops with a budget. The retailer’s job is to figure out what the consumer’s budget is and make sure they have in-stock product to show them—and well-practiced (but authentic, not canned) stories to tell them.
The size-to-value equation is one of the most compelling value drivers in closing lab-grown diamonds sales. It takes so much less talking (which no one likes) and so much more showing (which everyone loves).
Here’s an example of this: A couple comes into a store with a $5,000 budget. You want to show them a choice of mined diamonds and lab-grown diamonds in their budget range. You do not want to reduce their budget for them. You want to give them more value for their budget and achieve greater profit margin for the store.
For their $5,000 budget they are presented a 1 ct. mined diamond FG color and VS1 clarity and a 1.35 ct. lab-grown diamond of similar (or better) quality. Seven out of 10 consumers will gravitate to the larger diamond, our research shows. If their budget is $10,000 (or higher), the size to value equation grows even stronger in their favor and the store’s margin grows as well.
You Are in the Love Business
Jewelry retailers are not in the investment business; they are in the love business. They sell a product whose sole value is the emotional attachment the giver and the recipient bequeath it.
There are many value drivers that go into every purchase. Price is certainly important, but it does not stand alone in a jewelry transaction. According to our research, a large percentage of modern consumers strongly value the technology that goes into a lab-grown diamond, and the sustainable future it represents to them.
Robin Gambhir, owner of Fairtrade Jewellery in Toronto, says, “We don’t treat lab-grown diamonds any differently from natural diamonds—they’re just diamonds with a different origin,” and adds, “Our customers are interested in them from a sustainability perspective, which is why we’re shifting all our lab diamond sales to the SCS Certified Sustainability Rated goods because those are certified to be climate-neutral. And there are, at present, no natural diamonds that can be independently certified as climate neutral.”
Jeffrey Debs, a Philadelphia-based jeweler and gemologist, thinks a perspective shift is in order for some retailers, explaining, “If you desire success in selling lab-grown diamonds, you must first have a strong belief in the product as a serious contender—one that’s only now gaining considerable traction—and offer it at the same time as earth-mined stones, not as an afterthought.”
He adds, “You must also be spending a good amount of time educating yourself on the history, science, and methods of production for the product, and constantly keep up on the ongoing development of lab-grown diamonds and the ever-changing value story.”
Training Platforms for Lab-Grown Diamonds
Looking for outside training resources? Two new, high-quality platforms have recently been released to help jewelry retailers present a holistic lab-grown diamond training program to their entire store team.
One is from IGI—and if you’re a member of the International Grown Diamond Association (IGDA) you can get this training for free. The second is from the U.S.-based diamond grower, WD Lab-Grown Diamonds, and is full of detailed materials and support for jewelry retailers. It’s available here.
I highly recommend you consider both resources to help you train your team, and grow your lab-grown diamond business to sensational new levels. —Marty Hurwitz
Top photo: Rings by lab-grown diamond jewelry brand ALTR