Last week, Martin Rapaport published an in-depth diatribe rejecting the claims of synthetic diamand producers that their product is more ethical than naturally mined diamonds, going so far as to call the way synthetic diamonds are marketed as "evil". The Diamond Foundry has now responded with their own angry jab at Martin Rapaport, and makes it personal: "Where De Beers has built an industry through its brilliant marketing, Mr. Rapaport is milking it for his personal profit and leading it in a direction that harms everyone and only profits one: himself." JCK's Rob Bates, with his typical aplomb, breaks down the dispute in clearly defined terms.
The heart of the issue is ethics. Rapaport writes that, "Synthetic diamonds are definitely not more ethical than natural fair trade or development diamonds. Those that issue blanket statements and marketing initiatives that claim synthetic diamonds are more ethical than natural diamonds are liars." Bates explains that, "If lab-grown companies tend to hit the ethical note a lot, that may be because the price differential between naturals and lab-growns is still relatively modest. The ethical argument has become their prime selling point. Even casting aside the arguments pro or con, this poses risks as a marketing gambit. Lab-grown colored stones were rarely billed as ethical alternatives—just nice gems sold at reasonable price points."
Bates further illustrates the counter-punching between the two factions with regard to value retention and the use of loaded terms such as diamond "cartel", but ultimately sees the debate, albeit feisty, as positive, and suggests that the natural diamond industry has to become less insular regarding its message: "This dialogue, if overheated at times, is ultimately healthy. (Diamond Foundry will participate on a synthetic panel at the JCK Las Vegas show in June.) But Rapaport and JCK reach a mostly trade audience. Diamond Foundry has recently been the subject of adulatory coverage in Quartz and, just today, on the CBS Morning News. Between the trade press and consumer press, it is far better to have consumer media on your side. If the trade really wants to make its views on these issues known, it needs to do more than just talk to itself."