May 19, 2020 - In a webinar co-hosted by ALROSA and AGS Laboratories jewelers were introduced to the world of opportunities of fluorescent diamonds. The event was held as a part of the American Gem Society’s Spring Webinar Series.
As the webinar’s discussion and research data showed, customers are interested in learning more about fluorescent diamonds. They perceive fluorescence as an original and unusual feature differentiating the diamond and its owner. Recent research shows a positive impact of fluorescence on a diamond’s appearance and proves a significant market potential.
The webinar “Using Fluorescence to Sell More Diamonds: The Science and the Story” garnered record-breaking registrations from the jewelry industry. Rebecca Foerster, President of ALROSA U.S. and Jason Quick, Executive Director at AGS Laboratories, provided useful insights into fluorescent diamonds. Alethea Inns, AGS Director of Gemology & Education Programs, moderated the discussion.
Fluorescence is the ability of a diamond to glow under some conditions. Most natural diamonds contain atoms of nitrogen in their lattice. In some crystals, these nitrogen atoms cause a specific reaction to UV rays. Under the black light or the sun, such diamonds exhibit a soft fluorescent glow. A particular “classic blue” fluorescence is unique to natural diamonds. Just a small proportion of all stones has this effect to a considerable intensity. Long known by the diamond miners and dealers, fluorescence remains underexplored and underestimated by jewelers and end consumers.
"Fluorescent stones are beautiful. When we bring together all of their benefits – natural origin, uniqueness, hidden beauty, rarity, and introduce them into the story, we create an emotional connection to them. So people can relate to them, and they are even ready to pay a slight premium," said Rebecca Foerster. "Today’s consumers are very different, and they want to see something new, to have something they can own, relate to and share, something that differentiates them from others. It is important for us to create this excitement. Fluorescence is an amazing natural feature that resonates with so many thoughts and feelings."
According to ALROSA's research, among the more than 2,000 U.S. customers, aged 25-55, who either purchased diamond jewelry or received it as a gift within the last 12 months, 42 percent did not know anything about fluorescence. Only 11 percent of the respondents were aware of the feature.
The study showed that interest in fluorescent diamond jewelry increases when people are informed: 82 percent of respondents considered a purchase. Also, 72 percent were ready to pay up to 15 percent more for this attractive feature.
"We value what ALROSA is doing for the diamond industry, and the significant contributions they are making towards a greater understanding and appreciation of fluorescence in diamonds," said Jason Quick, Executive Director of AGS Laboratories.
According to AGS Laboratories statistics, as presented by Mr. Quick, 94% of all diamonds submitted to the grading laboratory had negligible fluorescence. Very strong fluorescence appeared in just 0.34% of diamonds, while “medium” and “strong” effects were exhibited in 3.6% and 1.5% of all stones respectively.
Qualitative research conducted in the U.S. in 2019 indicated that consumers’ inability to see a fluorescent diamond’s blue glow does not affect their interest in the concept of inner light. The idea of a “hidden secret that only you know” resonates well with people. This study indicated that fashion jewelry in which fluorescent diamonds were mixed with non-fluorescent stones excites consumers.
While most people were unaware of the phenomenon, a misconception arose in the wholesale diamond market in the second half of the 20th century about fluorescence, based on fears that it causes a “milky” appearance in diamonds. However, recent scientific research conducted by well-known industry institutions, showed that on the contrary, fluorescence may serve to benefit polished diamond characteristics.
The latest scientific study on fluorescence, conducted by HRD Antwerp in 2018-2019, revealed that even strong fluorescence does not negatively impact a diamond’s appearance. Moreover, in some stones fluorescence causes a significant color improvement. For example, strong fluorescence may allow a J color (light yellow tone) diamond to appear under daylight as high as a G (a very slight “warmth” in tone).
Fluorescence gives industry professionals the unique opportunity to monetize this natural feature of diamonds by creating new revolutionary products with more added value. Having a full production chain from diamond mining to cutting and polishing, ALROSA sees fluorescence as an interesting and underexplored niche and intends to launch some marketing initiatives in this segment in collaboration with jewelry retailers in key markets. The brand concept that ALROSA is developing will help jewelers bring this idea to their customers, gradually changing industry perceptions by generating consumer demand.