The diamond is still the stone of choice for millennial women tying the knot writes Meera Murugesan

IT has been called “a girl’s best friend” for the longest time. A young woman I know once told me she opted for a diamond engagement ring not because she particularly likes diamonds. The way she reasoned it, there was no guarantee her marriage would last, but at least the stone would stay around forever!

“A diamond is forever” as the famous slogan goes but is “forever” finally coming to an end? Are women drifting away from their once rock solid relationship with this precious stone?

Recent trends seem to suggest that the diamond is losing favour with millennial women when it comes to weddings and engagements. Apparently put off by the expensive price tag and what they believe are unethical practices in the diamond mining industry, millennial women are said to be straying from the diamond and opting for non-traditional rings to mark their most special occasion.

But is this the case locally too?

Diamond rings are still a very popular choice for Malaysians when it comes to weddings because diamonds have a symbolic significance which is largely influenced by status, lifestyle and social class, says GS Ong, executive director of Radiance Diamond.

And based on Radiance’s clientele patterns, millennials are still very much into diamonds. In fact, about 35 per cent of its customers are young clients and the number is growing yearly. But this group is more daring and open to exploring new designs.


An eye-catching diamond ring from Radiance Diamond.

Radiance has done many interesting and unique diamond pieces for clients over the years says Ong and clients enjoy the process because they get to be personally involved, rather than just choosing something from the display counter. Young couples are also more adventurous and like to customise their ring designs by using different materials and stones. They like to have the diamond set in a design that’s mixed with pink sapphires, for example, or a diamond solitaire ring with a band boasting blue sapphires.

“That’s where we come in as a specialist and advise them, give them suggestions and creative ideas that fit their lifestyle and desires.” As Radiance has been in the industry for many years, the brand “grows” with its clients, explains Ong.

“Clients will also recommend us to their adult children when their children want to have rings or jewellery made because they trust us.”

SHINING BRIGHT

There’s also a pattern or trend of women rewarding themselves with diamond jewellery, adds Ong.

Women buy themselves a ring, bracelet or earrings to mark a promotion at work or a bonus received. It’s no longer a case of just waiting for “Mr Right” to slip the diamond onto their finger.

Ong says diamonds are getting rarer and rarer and no two diamonds are alike and this rarity makes it all the more special and precious. “The diamond is just too beautiful to go out of fashion but what changes are the styles or designs that it is set into.”

Though the diamond industry has plateaued in recent years, demands remain resilient and 75 per cent of brides still wear a diamond ring says Stephen Choong Kai Fatt, executive director of DeGem Berhad. And in Malaysia, diamond rings are still well received due to their rarity and allure, he adds.

“A diamond is the hardest and most beautiful substance on earth and one that symbolises love, dedication and commitment to couples.”

And millennials are still buying diamonds, especially for weddings and other special occasions. Around 40 per cent of DeGem’s customers are women or couples aged below 35. The purchasing trend has been fairly consistent throughout the last decade based on DeGem’s own insights as well as established global reports, says Choong.


Forevermark Tribute Collection diamond necklaces from DeGem.

The trend of millennials buying diamonds is all the more impressive given that most have not yet reached a stage in life where they have a large proportion of disposable income, he explains.

Compared to previous generations, millennials are spending a higher proportion of their income on jewellery. And millennials are more inclined towards “self-purchase” of diamonds to celebrate their achievements and successes rather than only for life events such as engagements. “Diamonds have been the gold standard when it comes to high end jewellery for years and will remain so, at least in the foreseeable future,” says Choong.

LOOKING FOR LONGEVITY

Francois Delage, CEO of De Beers Jewellers says since the opening of the De Beers store in Suria KLCC in 2013, there has been an ever increasing demand for diamond jewellery to celebrate special occasions, including weddings.

In fact, diamond jewellery is becoming more popular with a younger audience, as well as the ever-increasing sector of the self-purchaser, as both these audiences are looking to invest in individual style statements with longevity, rather than fast fashion.


The diamond is still a favourite with the millennial woman. Picture: De Beers

De Beers has a significant proportion of customers in the millennial category who are attracted by its fair price point, he adds. However, its overall clientele is representative of a larger age group. Diamond collectors interested in fancy coloured diamonds, for example, tend to be older as it is an acquired taste and requires a more substantial budget.

And the traditional idea that it is men who buy diamonds for women is outmoded and unreflective of today’s reality, says Delage.

Women represent nearly half of all sales in the diamond market. And these days, diamonds are being worn and enjoyed as everyday jewellery, no longer saved for special occasions.

“We have also noticed an increased curiosity towards designs featuring fancy coloured diamonds.”

Consumers choosing a diamond today are not just influenced by the cut but other aspects, such as colour or the mount design, all of which are equally important in the decision-making process.

“I don’t believe diamonds will ever go out of style. They are timeless, hold meaning, elicit emotions and carry symbolism — we do not view them as current style statements, more as timeless treasures,” says Delage.


A diamond is forever. Picture: De Beers.

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STONES THAT MADE HISTORY

Hope Diamond

Initially called the Blue Diamond by King Louis the XIV of France, it was later known as the Hope Diamond due to Henry Philip Hope, a financier and gem collector who was the owner of the diamond in the 1830s. Believed to have been mined in India, it is supposedly cursed since it was stolen from the eye of a Hindu idol.

Cullinan Diamond

At 3,106.75 carats, this was the largest diamond ever discovered. It was found in 1905 at South Africa’s Premier Mine and named after Thomas Cullinan, the owner of the mine.

Koh-i-Noor

Translated as “Mountain of Light”, this famous diamond is believed to have passed hands through many members of royalty, including the Mughal emperor Shah Jehan, who built the Taj Mahal. The diamond was presented to British monarch, Queen Victoria when she took on the title of “Empress of India”.

The Regent

Discovered in India in 1698, it was passed down through French monarchs and even adorned the hilt of Napolean Bonaparte’s sword. The stone is known for its clarity and has been described as perfectly white and flawless.

Centenary Diamond

Unearthed by De Beers in 1986, it was discovered at the same mine as the Cullinan diamond and weighed nearly 600 carats in its rough state.The discovery of this precious stone was announced in 1988 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of De Beers, hence its name.

Orlov Diamond/The Great Moghul

Also mined in India, this diamond was believed to have been set originally in the eye of a Hindu deity. It was stolen from the temple by a soldier and later made its way to Europe.


Brides still love diamond rings to mark their special day. Picture: De Beers.

DIAMOND FACTS

* The Greeks called the diamond “adamas” meaning invincible or indestructible.

* Ancient Romans believed diamonds were parts of stars which had fallen from the sky.

* The earliest diamonds were discovered in India.

* In ancient times, diamonds were worn as talismans for protection during battle.

Sources:A Primer to the World’s Most Famous Diamonds — www.1stdib.com, Diamond Meaning, Powers and History — www.jewelsforme.com and www.grantsjewelry.com

TRUE LOVE

FOR the modern young woman looking for something different in her engagement ring, the Tiffany True offers a unique option.

With a contoured diamond cut that maximises brilliance, light and contrast — the ring adds a new contemporary design to Tiffany & Co.’s legendary engagement collection.

Designed to sit low on the finger, the Tiffany True has an especially delicate band that has been sculpted to reflect light in a way that does not compete with the stone, a design hallmark that allows the diamond to shine at its absolute brightest. And the eco-conscious millennial woman will also appreciate the fact that Tiffany sources its diamonds and precious metals, and crafts its jewellery in ways that are ethically and environmentally responsible.

The ring is available with a white Tiffany True cut diamond set in a platinum band, or with a Fancy Yellow cushion modified brilliant diamond set in an 18k gold band.


The stunning Tiffany True ring.