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Natural Diamond Council CEO Discusses ESG, Inclusivity and Digitalization of Industry

by News Desk

While the natural diamond market remains steeped in tradition as an exceptional luxury experience, the industry continues to evolve — which includes increasingly engaging consumers online and via social media.

The industry is also leading on the ESG front, with recent initiatives spotlighting emerging designers while also fostering greater inclusivity. Here, David Kellie, chief executive officer of the Natural Diamond Council, discusses the state of the industry, which employs 10 million people worldwide.

WWD: How is the natural diamond market responding to consumer demands for adopting more and effective ESG measures?

David Kellie: The natural diamond industry has been committed to working toward a more sustainable future for the last 20 years, despite the recent consumer demand for it. Unlike many others who may find themselves in a virtue-signaling scramble in an effort to meet consumer desires, this is longstanding, genuine work for the diamond industry.

The diamond industry puts social responsibility and environmental protection at the forefront of everything we do and takes responsibility for those dependent on the industry. The natural diamond industry supports the livelihood of 10 million people worldwide, providing safe, high-quality jobs in remote parts of the world where employment opportunities are otherwise limited. In addition to the incredible amount of employment opportunities created are investments in health care, education, critical infrastructure development and countless environmental protection efforts.

David Kellie
Courtesy image.

In addition to the work of our members, the Natural Diamond Council launched the Emerging Designers Diamond Initiative in 2021 alongside Lorraine Schwartz. The program aims to remove barriers of entry for Black, Indigenous and people of color designers wanting to work with natural diamonds. Through funding, mentorship and other exclusive resources, we’re working toward a more inclusive and diverse diamond industry.

WWD: How has the acceleration of e-commerce and digitalization impacted the natural diamond market?

D.K.: E-commerce and digitalization are transforming the diamond industry for those who are willing to embrace it. The diamond industry is deeply rooted in tradition, as is the case across the luxury sector, and while the in-store experience is still a coveted rite-of-passage for many purchasers, they are seeking inspiration and “stalking their prey” online.

Consumers have a healthy appetite for diamond-related content online; this is illustrated by traffic to our Only Natural Diamonds platform, which receives 120 million unique visitors a year, and averages 150,000 readers per article. Our social media content receives 450,000 engagements daily on content ranging from social impact to celebrity trends to exclusive behind-the-scenes coverage.

Launching in June, the “For Moments Like No Other” campaign key visual, features the actress Ana de Armas as the global ambassador.
Courtesy image.

WWD: As we emerge from the pandemic, do you see more physical events taking place?

D.K.: I hope we do. The importance of coming together as an industry cannot be overstated. Our industry depends on collaboration and sharing inspiration and innovation to grow and evolve. It’s a goal of the Natural Diamond Council to bring an in-person event to America’s diamond capital, New York City.

WWD: What’s trending at retail for the natural diamond market? How are merchants positioned?

D.K.: Through the launch of our Official Partner Program last year, we’ve been able to join forces with leading independent retailers across the country who share our mission — to advance the natural diamond dream. These official partners have access to our multimedia ad campaigns, digital and social media assets, and access to unparalleled and interactive educational resources. Working hand-in-hand with our partners has greatly expanded our reach and visibility of our Only Natural Diamonds campaigns.

WWD: What’s next for the diamond market? What role will diamonds play in the metaverse?

D.K.: We believe that the future of our worlds online will evolve to be interactive 3D, whether that be in content and storytelling or for commerce. Whilst everyone waits to see how the metaverse evolves, we are actively engaged with the largest players in the technology development to be at the forefront of how the technology can best engage and inspire consumers.

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