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2021 was one of the most successful years for DeBeers, the world’s largest diamond maker, with revenues reaching $ 5.6 billion, up from $ 3.4 billion in 2020. Rough diamond sales are 4.9 billion (up from $ 2.8 billion in 2020). The company’s branded jewelry business grew 35% year-on-year, including De Beers Jewelers and De Beers Forevermark. “In 2021, the level of demand was higher than the pre-crisis (Covid-19 epidemic). When you think about the level of crisis, it’s a tremendous resurgence,” De Beers brand CEO Mark Zachitt said in a statement. Interview with Fortune India.

Although the change in the diamond industry after the lockdown is certainly related to the increase in disposable income of consumers as they spend on travel and other outdoor activities, Zachit believes it is the resilience of the industry as a whole that has led to its resilience. Consumer demand rebound. “The epidemic has forced the industry to be much more focused. Resilience across the chain – from government partners to site owners and retailers, their resilience to adapt, try, course-modify with speed and agility has been incredibly enriched. In many countries. The only link with the last client was digital and our people adjusted in record time, ”Zachit explained. “They reacted to ambiguity with agility, their response to complexity was focus and their response to instability was to make strong decisions to overcome difficulties and become captains in rough seas,” he added.

A VUCA diamond in the world

However, as life returns to normal and the journey begins, will 2022 be as successful as that year? Zachit says VUCA (instability, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) is a way of life today. “The truth is, in the context in which we work, it’s hard to predict what the future will hold. The level of uncertainty is very high … It started with the epidemic and now it’s Ukraine. It has had a dual effect on industry.” Declining stability and tensions over raw materials have slowed the economy, restarted inflation and raised interest rates to fight inflation, shrinking resources which could lead to potential risks. The war has affected the diamond industry. But the natural diamond industry has become incredibly resilient. “

Jachit’s optimism also comes from the emotional value that diamonds carry. “This is not the first time we have faced a crisis. There will always be men falling in love with women, women will always be 40 years old or have children, there will always be achievements in life that you want to identify. There is a need. To believe in any man, To be yours and for love. “

Business with purpose

To do business in a VUCA environment, “purpose” becomes important, Zachit says “We tell our teams to never forget who we are and where we come from. Natural diamonds are an absolute wonder and a miracle of nature, it was created two billion years ago or more in situations that are now extremely rare. Two billion years later, they find Available and sold ৷ The way we process them is unique, each rough diamond is unique and valuable ৷ So, it is important to know what and why we do it ৷ Our purpose is to delight the world with our exceptional products ৷ Exceptional gravity and value. People have to move, that’s what I do every day. “

The diamond industry is rather notorious for the inadequate behavior of its employees in the mines. Honcho, head of De Beers, claims that their HR practices at the mine level are impeccable. “When we started the operation in Botswana, people were suffering. There were only 3km of roads, AIDS everywhere. Today, 3,000km of roads, thousands of little girls are going to schools and hospitals everywhere. We are moving towards carbon neutrality. By 2030.” It’s a far cry from what it feels like. “

He added, “We have a responsibility to the world, and secondly, whatever we do, we do it exceptionally, with an infinite sense of morality,” he added.

Changing mindset

Consumers are also asking motives. They are asking tough questions about whether the diamonds they have bought have been mined sustainably, and whether the people working in the mines are being treated ethically. There is also a lot of controversy surrounding conflict-free diamonds. “These are not difficult questions, these are legitimate questions,” Zachit said.

The next generation values ​​the purpose above the price of diamonds. “Value is the intrinsic value found in a stone, value is its effect. The perception of status is changing, it comes not from vanity but from generosity. We see a much more attentive, generous and caring generation. It’s not just millennials. And Gen-X, but “Their mothers are driven by purpose. They listen to their little ones. We want to know where diamonds come from because if you care about quality, you want to know where it comes from, so it’s the first sign of quality.”

DeBeers operation, claims Jacheet is absolutely transparent and monitored. “We have the best ethical practice you can ever imagine. Safety in our mines is an absolute priority. The amount of technology invested is high-tech. For example, in Namibia we have diamond recovery ships, 95% of the people in it are boat high-powered engineers.”

Lab-grown diamonds

With the conversation of purpose and sustainability taking center-stage, there is considerable consumer attraction towards lab-produced diamonds, and brands around the world are offering jewelry collections made from lab-grown diamonds (about 3/4 of the natural value. Diamonds). De Beers itself has a lab-grown diamond vertical, lightbox. Zachitt says there is a market for both lab-produced and natural diamonds, but he disagrees that lab-grown diamonds are more sustainable. “More than 80% of lab-grown diamonds are produced by non-renewable energy, whose carbon footprint is higher than natural diamonds.”

He compared the carbon-dioxide used to polish natural diamonds to the carbon-dioxide emitted by an aircraft flying between Mumbai and New York. “You need about 150 kg of carbon-dioxide per carat to polish a natural diamond, while a Mumbai-New York flight will receive one ton of carbon-dioxide. You can polish a 6-carat diamond for the price of a Mumbai-New York flight,” Zachit argued. Gives.

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