2017 proved to be a great year for MiaDonna and The Greener Diamond Foundation. We continued to push boundaries and achieve greater heights within the lab-grown diamond industry and as a charity with our mission to give back and create a Greener Diamond culture. Here are some of our notable highlights from 2017.
The Greener Diamond
Let’s start with my passion! Our foundation, The Greener Diamond. The main reason we sell lab-created diamonds is to fund projects that empower diamond mining communities and allow them to live a life free of poverty and mining.
Last year, Ponpon, the boy who inspired me to start MiaDonna and The Greener Diamond, graduated from high school. His dream of becoming a doctor is now within reach as he just started college. I couldn’t be more proud of Ponpon and his recent accomplishments, this boy has lived through diamond fueled civil wars and the ebola outbreak. It is with great joy that I will continue supporting him financially through his college education.
In addition to Ponpon’s milestone, we announced The Greener Diamond’s newest project, our support for the Center for Women’s Empowerment in Liberia. Using basic education, alternative counseling and vocational training, the Center for Women’s Empowerment provides a safe place for women to grow and alleviate the negative impact the civil war has had on them. At the end of each year, the women will graduate in a particular area of choice they will have been trained in. Graduates of the Center for Women Empowerment will be awarded a micro-credit loan and will be assigned to an advisor who will work with them to establish small businesses. Within five years, the center will directly train 1,000 women.
Going forward, we will concentrate on bringing state of the art greenhouse projects to Sierra Leone and Liberia. Studies now show that fluctuations in food production or shortages in rice affect the severity of armed conflicts funded by diamonds. In an effort to get to the root of the problem and help the children caught in the middle of fight over the wealth in their soil, The Greener Diamond will be ramping up our agricultural efforts for 2018 and beyond.
2017 was a special year for MiaDonna as we celebrate our 10th anniversary! Even after 10 years of retailing online, our business continues to grow as does the lab-created diamond industry.
In fact, we were recognized by the Portland Business Journal as one of the Fastest-Growing Private Companies in Oregon for 2017. This was the fourth time we have been highlighted for our continued financial growth as a private organization.
On the technical side, it was fantastic to see such a positive response to our updated website, which launched at the beginning of 2017. The new visual interface, improved technology, and streamlined usability has allowed our customers to enjoy an online shopping experience that truly reflects our brand.
And as always, we will continue to enhance the web experience for our customers, 2018 being no exception. We have some exciting additions and improvements scheduled for the new year, so make sure you keep checking back.
Industries change and so do consumer buying habits. We were in the midsts of some pretty epic changes. 2017 set the all-time record for brick and mortar store closings, many of them being retail and wholesale earth-mined diamond jewelers.
The retail market is forever changing and although this is sad for some, I feel we are moving in the right direction as a society. Today’s consumers are far more interested in buying from brands based on their social and environmental impact with 78% of American consumers saying they feel better when they buy products that are sustainably produced.
Twelve years ago, MiaDonna was just a pipe dream. I always believed that if consumers knew the ramifications of their purchases, they would make different choices and vote with their money. We are finally seeing this movement which benefits society as a whole.
Women in the Diamond Industry
Traditionally the diamond industry is being run by some key players whose families have long been in this business. Ironically, all of these companies are run by men. As an entrepreneur in the diamond industry, I was ridiculed because I wanted to grow conflict-free diamonds in a lab. As a woman in the “boys club” of the diamond industry, I was ignored and belittled simply because I was female. As a single mother, I was questioned about my ability to lead while parenting. It is encouraging to finally see other women are taking charge in this masculine market. I have always said, what the diamond industry needs is more feminine touch and now 12 years later, we are seeing more woman at the forefront of the diamond industry.
This year, we observed our customers putting more thought and effort into creating the perfect proposal and engagement ring. Men and women are really stepping up their game and this is amazing to see. It’s not just about the ring or how many carats your diamond is. The chains of a century old marketing campaign set forth by the earth-mined diamond industry are finally breaking. It's about the full experience of the engagement process and knowing the origin of your ring. Engagement rings have steered away from representing monetary value and are now viewed as a symbol of one’s core values. I am loving this movement!
From late 2016 to early 2017, I launched a national media campaign with the lovely Khaliah Ali to promote the largest grown-in-the-USA laboratory diamond. As a company and industry we’ve come so far. When we started MiaDonna over a decade ago, we could only grow diamonds up to a quarter carat in size and yellow in color, and now we have this stunning colorless conflict-free lab-grown diamond weighing 6.28 carats.
But the time has come to give it a new loving home. On December 5, 2017, the 6.28 carat cushion cut diamond officially went on sale. Although I am sad to see it go, I’m so excited that one of our customers will now be able to own and wear a true scientific breakthrough.