Gender (Dis)parity in the Diamond WorldMarch 11, 21
They used to call it sex discrimination. Today we talk about gender parity, but whichever term you choose, it's an issue that's still very much with us. I remember as small boy back in 1975 asking my parents about something called the Sex Discrimination Act. It was all over British newspapers, TV, and radio at the time, and was heralded as a landmark piece of legislation. It was designed to protect both men and women from discrimination on the grounds of sex or marital status. Much of it was beyond me at the time, but I do recall wondering with a child-like simplicity why men and women should be treated differently in the first place, and why a law was needed to deal with the problem. A naive approach, of course. Life is far more complex, as I have since learned, and two things (male and female, for example) can still be equal despite their differences.
The gender battle is, of course, still being fought. And, as International Women's Day reminded us this week, gender parity is still a long way off. As I contemplated a global event that marks women's cultural, political, and socio-economic achievements, my thoughts turned to equality in the world of diamonds. Not so much on glass ceilings, job opportunities and the like, but on who buys jewelry and who wears it. There is, for sure, a gender disparity here. I struggled to find recent and reliable statistics across the whole spectrum of jewelry sales, but I did find a report, cited here on IDEX, that said 90 per cent of the dollar spend is on items for women.
That's because women wear jewelry to enhance their beauty, generally speaking, while men wear it as a symbol of wealth, power and success, generally speaking (US rapper Lil Uzi Vert having a $24m pink diamond embedded in his forehead, for example). Men buy a lot more jewelry than women, and women wear a lot more jewelry than men, generally speaking. It's not gender parity. It's just the way of the world. International Women's Day is just one of two events in recent days that got me thinking. The other was the Golden Globes awards, honoring Hollywood's finest. Or arguably showcasing Hollywood's most beautiful. Who wins what is frankly a bit of a sideshow. The real deal is who wears what. And that includes some pretty spectacular jewelry. Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot wore a Tiffany & Co Blue Book pendant necklace featuring a 48-carat bicolor zoisite set in 18-carat gold. Anya Taylor-Joy (best actress in a limited series for The Queen's Gambit) chose a diamond and platinum necklace, earrings and a ring, also by Tiffany & Co, with a total value of over $2.3m. Julia Garner (Ruth Langmore Netflix's crime drama Ozark) wore bold black enamel cuffs, studded with black and white diamonds and Tahitian pearls in the shape of a Maltese Cross, by Verdura. For the sake of gender parity I should also mention the fact that Anthony Anderson (star of the TV comedy Black-ish) sported a Chopard diamond orchid pin. But I think it's fair to say that men were under-represented in the gem stakes.
It's not a problem. I'm just pointing out that gender parity doesn't hold true across the board. Men like to see beautiful women wearing beautiful clothes and beautiful jewelry, generally speaking. Women are more sophisticated and see beyond what they see when they look at a man, generally speaking. Nobody's suggesting the leading ladies should appear with a paper bag on their head. The desire for beauty drives an enormous chunk of the global economy and diamonds are no exception. De Beers recognized that when it told the world every bride must have a diamond on her finger and the industry followed suit. A lot has changed since Paul Lukas and Jennifer Jones were presented with the first ever Golden Globes in Los Angeles back in 1944. Men and women had roles that were sharply defined in those days. Many of those definitions have since been blurred beyond recognition. But some have not. Today both genders may wear the trousers, but it's still the women who wear the jewels.