Do Consumers Care If Their Diamonds Are New?

The industry has traditionally not cared if the diamonds it sells are new or used. After all, when you sell a billion-year-old product, new is a pretty relative concept.

Still, with the growing importance of trade-ins, some have talked up recycled diamonds as a good thing, since recycling helps the environment.

Now, a new concept, The Virgin Diamond,” spearheaded by GemFind veterans Louis Valentine and Brandon Willenkamp, wants to flip that logic on its head. It is based on the idea that, all things being equal, consumers will prefer a diamond that’s never been used or worn.

Below is the Virgin Diamond’s introductory video, which argues that any diamond that’s been “on the finger of another woman…symbolizes someone else’s love, someone else’s failed relationship”:

Willenkamp admits that some retailers might not like what this company is doing, bringing up an issue that they have traditionally not mentioned to consumers.

But he says his “jaw dropped when he found out that a large number of consumers don’t know their diamond is not a brand-new diamond. And I realized consumers would want to know.

“When you have a Louis Vuitton purse, you know if it’s brand new or used,” he continues. “If you have a car, you know that it’s new. But most consumers don’t know if their diamonds are worn by someone else.”

But that brings up another question: Diamonds are pretty durable. Why would a consumer care if his or her stones are used? Is this all about superstition, or what business professor Anne Bowers calls sympathetic magic? (According to a study by Bowers, consumers will pay less for a diamond that’s been in a divorce.)

Willenkamp says that’s part of it.

“People call it bad juju. One retailer told me they had a diamond come back three times. And every time, the salespeople just shook their head.”

But he also says his product is based on more than that.

“When you ask a woman, do you want another woman’s diamond, they say no. When you get married, you want a diamond that symbolizes your love beginning.” (The product’s slogan: “The History Begins With You.”)

To qualify as a “Virgin Diamond,” a diamond must meet specific criteria and be set aside by a manufacturing sightholder. Willenkamp eventually hopes to be able to specify the particular mine the diamond came from. “Our goal is to provide that level of transparency,” he says.

The Virgin Diamond concept is currently being licensed to retailers. Willenkamp says that jewelers should look at it as another selling point and that he recommends that Virgin Diamonds cost no more than their nonvirgin counterparts.

“A large number of consumers see the value in a Virgin Diamond, especially when it doesn’t cost more than any other diamond,” he says.

One more thing: According to the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, jewelers are required to disclose if they are selling a second-hand diamond. It’s safe to say that few do.

(Images courtesy of The Virgin Diamond)

JCK News Director


  • Tom Chatham

    Wow…retailers are required to tell customers their diamonds are “used”? What about the De Beers buy back program, same thing? I can hear the logic already at work: If all we have to sell in the future is used diamonds, why should we be required to disclose this? Maybe they should be required to disclose how used it is too….”you are the fourth girl to to receive this rare stone….”

    • Sheila Pratt

      Could not agree more!
      And I suppose we all stay in “used” hotel rooms when we travel and buy “used” homes too! LOL!

  • stamres

    Just what we need, another gimmick. We tell them ( the consumers ) that diamonds are forever, now we tell them they are not ?? I give them 3 years till they are selling ( V ) direct to the public. So why help them start up to just go after us ??

  • Lapidary Artist

    Unless the diamond has been physically damaged then if put into a mix how can anyone tell if it’s been ‘used’. And if it’s re-cut is it still ‘used’ or does it become ‘virginal’ again?
    Not sure where the value is, if to buy his license, which is probably not an inconsiderable amount of money, only to sell a ‘VD’ (pun intended) for the same price.

  • Maarten de Witte

    What do you suppose will be the resale value of a used Virgin? Asking for a friend.

    • Sheila Pratt

      Very good question!

  • Joanne ZGG

    and how do you prove it’s “virgin?” looks like a new way to mess with the consumer and create more questions that diminish trust and confidence in the jewelry industry as a whole. Love comes from the heart – not the diamond!

  • Sheila Pratt

    This is the dumbest article I have ever read! Whoever wrote this must have married a virgin 12 year old too.
    Are all the women getting a diamond “used goods too?”
    Poor article! Poor taste.
    Just another way to mess with customers! We don’t need anymore falsehoods in this industry!!!
    This article makes me angry! Shame on you.

  • JT Curtiss

    Might seem strange coming from a forty-year estate jewelry dealer, especially one whose previous comment extolling its virtues was apparently abrasive enough to incur the wrath of the resident censor (lookin’ at you Rob)…but what we have here is a great idea.

    Since so much of what jewelry is all about is emotional/mental the marketing value of an untapped aspect of it creates a new niche to be exploited, nothing wrong with that. A lot better than the goofy and borderline deceptive “chocolate” diamond creation, to say nothing of “salt and pepper” as a positive rather than negative property. If priced similar to comparable quality pre-owned especially, this is a great way to serve the segment (and I’ve seen this many times) who just have a thing about being the first owner…why would I not fill that demand and take that money?

    I might look into taking on the line to play off of my normal estate goods, and when they get sold or traded back to me, I’ll just switch showcases! 🙂

    • Rob_Bates

      As far as I know, no comments on estate jewelry have been “censored.” If you or anyone else left a comment, and it hasn’t posted, send me an email at rbates – at – jckonline.com and I’ll check on it. Sometimes things get stuck in the spam folder.

      • JT Curtiss

        Thanks for the response. On the recent article regarding “millennials” being more apt to sell engagement diamonds a comment of mine was actually responded to by another commenter but my original comment disappeared. I did a followup comment questioning the reason for my comment being deleted. Since the comment was answered and agreed by another commenter there is no issue of it going to spam, it was removed after publication.

        • Rob_Bates

          I don’t know why that happened, but it was in the spam and now it’s back … I have no idea why it is but obviously we aren’t going to censor a comment about second-hand buying. Anyway, if you do have any issue with my moderation of comments, please comment me privately. It’s really not the discuss this. Thanks.

          • JT Curtiss

            Thanks for correcting the deletion.

  • Kevin Whitmore

    I suppose, following this same logic, the customer only wants freshly mined gold for the engagement band too? I find this marketing stance in conflict with the general trend of preference for recycled materials.

  • Roman

    What about “a diamond is forever”? If you buy a diamond and know there will be less demand for it simply because you “drive it off the lot”, like a car, doesn’t that destroy the who diamonds value proposition? The proposition that it keeps its value because it is indestructible and always in demand… It’s just negative advertising for diamonds, like blood diamonds, don’t buy those, buy these… Bad for the industry as a whole.

  • JT Curtiss

    Don’t know what the issue is Rob, but this story that had 13 comments now has two? I was going to forward this to my son to get his opinion of taking on the line, the comment count at the header still shows as 13 but clicking on the link takes you here, with comments from 7 and 6 days ago, earlier ones including mine are gone. Misbehaving filter again?

    • Rob_Bates

      Hmmm… I have no idea. Just looked in the spam, nothing there. Will forward to our tech people. Sorry about this, seems very weird.

      • JN_Advance

        First technical inspection shows nothing to explain this failure to display older comments. The comments in question for this user are still visible within Disqus associated with user JT Curtiss—no flags attached or other apparent issues. We are transitioning our review into the site-specific implementation. Thanks for your patience.

  • JT Curtiss

    Comment reprinted due to JCK tech issue:

    Might seem strange coming from a forty-year estate jewelry dealer, but what we have here is a great idea.

    Since so much of what jewelry is all about is emotional/mental the marketing value of an untapped aspect of that creates a new niche to be exploited, nothing wrong with that. A lot better than the goofy and borderline deceptive “chocolate” diamond creation, to say nothing of “salt and pepper” inclusions as a positive rather than negative property. If as they say prices are comparable to pre-owned especially, this is a great way to serve the segment (and I’ve seen this many times) who just have a thing about being the first owner…why would I not fill that demand and take that money?

    I might actually look into taking on the line to play off of my normal estate goods, and if they get sold or traded back to me, I’ll just switch showcases! 🙂