Women in the Diamond Industry

Article by Anna-Mieke
Anna-Mieke Anderson

In years past, the diamond industry was recognized as a male-dominated space. Up until now, men have been calling all the shots. In 1938, De Beers created the engagement ring trend that evidently became a tradition. Women were told to expect no less than a one carat diamond on their finger come Christmas or New Year’s, so we did. De Beers then told men that buying an engagement diamond for a quarter of one’s salary was proof of masculinity and financial accomplishment, so they did. Then De Beers carefully restricted the supply to keep both the price and demand for diamonds high. By 1947, De Beers released their “Diamond is Forever” marketing campaign and to this day, consumers continue buying diamonds.

Fortunately, there’s a new kid in town, a new generation in the diamond industry. A younger, greener, sustainable eco-conscious diamond that is made in a safe, modern-day lab environment. The lab-grown diamond. I don’t believe all diamonds are evil, nor do I think that lab-grown diamonds will be the solution to end all violence and greed. But what I do know is that times have changed. As a new era emerges, lab-grown diamonds are growing in popularity and the industry is changing for good.

As man made diamonds have moved closer to the spotlight, so have women in the diamond industry. According to the 2017 Diamond Insight Report, women are commonly buying their own diamonds rather than having them gifted and in turn dominating the industry. These “self-purchasers” are typically married women, which goes to show that diamonds don’t have to be a symbol of engagement or love.

In addition to this change in buyer behavior, female jewelry manufacturers and designers such as myself are climbing the ladder. After being run by large families with key male figures, the diamond industry is now seeing an increasing amount of up-and-coming female designers and entrepreneurs rule the industry. Some include Kendra Scott, Jacquie Aicheis, Jennifer Fisher, Caitlin Mocium, and Andrea Lipsky-Karasz. To my surprise, De Beers is even making moves to put more women in charge. Earlier this month, they announced a three-year partnership with UN Women, a division of the United Nations, in an effort to create better gender equality in their upper-level management.

Times have changed and so have the leaders of the industry. As a woman at the forefront of the lab-grown diamond industry, it is encouraging to finally see other women are taking charge in this masculine market. Women are exactly what the diamond industry needs. A study conducted by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) found that 50 economies show women are creating businesses at a greater rate than men. Evidence also shows that women are more likely to reinvest their profits in education, family and their communities. Keeping that in mind, it’s no surprise that of Kevin O’Leary’s 27 invested companies, only those with female CEOs are making profits.

While it’s great that women are becoming more prominent figures in the diamond industry, it’s also important to note the struggles that still exist today. With all this news on Harvey Weinstein, I can’t help but speak my truth. As one of the few female leaders in the “boys club” diamond industry, let me tell you, there are more Weinsteins out there. Just ask the hundreds of former Sterline employees who described the corporate culture polluted by sexual aggression, gender discrimination and abuses of power, according to newly released documents part of a private class-action arbitration case. In some cases, sexual harassment reports were made, only to be ignored. Men are still running the world, and as far as I can tell, it’s not going so well. How are we to succeed as a whole when women continue to be held back or forced into uncomfortable situations.

A decade ago, people belittled and ridiculed me and the idea of lab-grown diamonds, especially because I was a woman trying to enter the diamond industry. Today, I am a leader of a growing industry that is threatening the dominance of the earth-mined diamond conglomerates. I am delighted to see so many woman taking a stand - women have had enough and this behavior will not be tolerated any more.

On September 27, 2009 during the Vancouver Peace Summit, the Dalai Lama said, “the world will be saved by the western woman.” This statement has stuck with me ever since.

He believes that women, with their nurturing instinct, are naturally more compassionate and more likely to empathize with those who suffer during conflicts. He singled out western women because of the work that has been done by the women before us in the west. Women in the west don't face the obstacles of cultural, and often violent, oppression and even rigid traditional women's roles the way that women in other parts of the world still do. Women in the west have the opportunity and the responsibility to help others on a global scale. I believe that one day women, not just western women, will save the world.