Global industry that relies on sight and touch to attract consumers grinds to a halt.
By Emiko Terazono, Neil Hume and Anna Gross in London and Benjamin Parkin in New Delhi
When Kenneth Monahan, a financial analyst in New York, got down on one knee to propose to his girlfriend on a Delaware beach at dawn earlier this month, he presented her with a fake diamond ring.
With jewellery shops closed because of the lockdown, he said: “I’ll sort out the full ring when the madness ends.”
For many consumers, a diamond ring is a big financial — and emotional — investment, one that they are loath to make online, where it is harder to assess the cut and the clarity.
With malls and jewellery stores shut during the coronavirus lockdowns, the $80bn diamond industry has ground to a halt.
From the diamond mines of South Africa and the polishers in India, to the grading of stones in Antwerp and retailers in London’s Hatton Garden and New York’s Diamond District, each stage of the diamond value chain requires close personal contact and human handling. As a result, the industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus crisis.
“[The global lockdowns] impacted everything. Nobody [in the industry] was unaffected,” said Stephen Lussier, the head of consumer and brands at De Beers, the diamond group.