De Beers coined the slogan “a diamond is forever”, but now the mega diamond miner is embarking on the production of lab-grown gems that he says are “right now”.
Mega diamond miner De Beers, the company that revolutionized the diamond industry and coined the slogan ‘a diamond is forever’, hopes his latest venture, a fashion jewelry brand called Lightbox Jewelry, will give it a niche. in the market for laboratory-grown diamonds. .
While a traditionally mined diamond is forever, De Beers aims for a growing interest in lab-grown diamonds. According to CEO Bruce Cleaver, they might not last forever, but are “perfect right now.”
De Beers not only wants to highlight the lab-grown gemstone industry, but also wants to offer consumers real competition, i.e. affordable prices. Diamonds made by Lightbox will sell for between US $ 200 for a quarter-carat stone and US $ 800 for a 1-carat stone.
The boutique-style line will usher in an innovative new period for the jewelry industry, says De Beers, and will feature a range of lab-grown pink, blue and white diamonds in a variety of affordable earring and necklaces designs.
Lightbox “offers consumers something new: shine and colors, at a very affordable price. In addition to a deep understanding of what consumers want, Lightbox brings innovation and a commitment to transparency to the lab-grown diamond industry, ” says Steve Coe, Managing Director of Lightbox.
All synthetic diamonds in the Lightbox range will be produced exclusively by De Beers’ subsidiary, Element Six, a world leader in laboratory-grown diamond technology for over 50 years.
While it can be difficult for the human eye to spot the difference between a mined and manufactured diamond, Lightbox stresses that transparency is key to its business model. As such, any Lightbox diamond weighing 0.2 carat or more will have a permanent Lightbox logo inside the stone.
Invisible to the naked eye but easily identifiable under magnification, the logo will clearly identify lab-grown stones and also serve as Element Six’s quality and assurance mark.
“Our research has taught us that there is a great deal of confusion about lab-grown diamonds – what they are, how they differ from diamonds, and how they are valued. Lightbox will clearly explain to consumers what lab-grown diamonds are and offer simple prices consistent with the true cost of production, ”Coe added.
After dominating the diamond market for decades, this latest effort from De Beers also aims to carve out a niche in the lab-grown diamond business. Prices offered by Lightbox dump artificial diamond manufacturers such as Diamond Foundry, based in the United States, and New Diamond Technology, in Russia, by up to 75 percent.
De Beers expects its strategy to pay off twice: first, it will be able to reach a wider audience with its reduced prices, and second, it will be able to protect and support its core businesses by adding synthetic diamonds to the fray.
“Large miners have been concerned about the growth of the synthetic diamond jewelry market for some time, especially over the past decade, as the quality of stones has improved and manufacturing costs have started to decline. lower, “Paul Zimnisky, independent diamond industry analyst. , told the New York Times.
De Beers, which controls around 30 percent of the world’s supply of mined stones, has only recently changed its mind about man-made gemstones. Two years ago, the global mining giant was part of the “real is rare” campaign initiated by the Diamond Producers Association. It was intended to discredit the promotion of synthetic diamonds.
Although man-made stones only make up about 2 percent of all diamonds, a number of analysts expect that number to reach 10 percent by 2030.
In fact, according to a 2015 report from Citi Research, a branch of Citi Bank, artificial diamonds are a disruptive technology poised to offer real competition to the almost untouchable diamond market.
“Lab-grown diamonds are a growing threat to the diamond industry because they are of the highest quality, but the hope for miners is that consumers will continue to view these diamonds as synthetic diamonds and not diamonds. appropriate, “Citi Research says in a report. title Disruptive technology in mining.
While mined diamonds have a troubled history linked to regions of conflict and precarious working conditions, man-made diamonds are similar in composition without all the geopolitical baggage. Synthetic diamonds are almost identical to mined diamonds in that they are made using high pressure or high pressure techniques that mimic the conditions in which natural diamonds are created.
Artificial diamonds can also be made using chemical fumes, the method Element Six uses to produce their diamonds. CVD, or chemical vapor deposition, uses low pressure in a gas-filled vacuum to create layers of carbon that gradually merge into a single stone.
This new method is presented as cheaper, easier and above all better for the environment. In order to bring them the synthetic diamonds consumers want, De Beers will set up an e-commerce site for Lightbox.
To help Lightbox grow, De Beers plans to invest US $ 94 million over four years in a new Element Six production facility near Portland, Ore., Adding a second production lab to Element’s existing facilities. Six based in the UK. Once fully operational, the plant will be capable of producing more than 500,000 rough carats of lab-grown diamonds per year.
Lightbox will begin selling its artificial creations to U.S. customers in September, with plans to retail worldwide in the near future.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Georgia Williams, do not hold any direct investment interest in any of the companies mentioned in this article.