The Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) is developing its first-ever standard for laboratory-grown diamonds and gemstones. According to RJC, many of its members today are selling both natural and lab-grown products, which led to this decision.
As of October, De Beers' LGD brand Lightbox will be expanding its LGD offering with bigger varieties of its 800$/ct lab-grown diamonds and higher quality LGD for 1500$/ct, with a maximum size of 2ct. Up until now, Lightbox stuck to a linear 800$/ct, less quality colors and clarity - G-J, VS, very good cut, but in its "Finest" collection will now also offer D-F, VVS, excellent cut diamonds of 1ct for nearly double the price, 1500$/ct, setting another standardized price benchmark for higher quality LGD stones.
In an extensive article, The Guardian weighs the arguments of many LGD producers who claim the diamonds they produce in a factory are a more ethical alternative, pointing to the devastating effect a complete shift away from mined diamonds would have on entire communities whose livelihoods depend on the diamond industry. Quoting Cristina Villegas from NGO Pact, "framing it as an ethical decision, while in my opinion it is actually the complete opposite", the article states that walking away from mined diamonds will hurt exactly the same communities consumers are concerned about.
The International Gemological Institute (IGI) recently analyzed and graded a 6.18 carat round brilliant-cut stone submitted for grading as a natural diamond, then identified as a lab-grown diamond. The stone was sent for verification purposes and came with a report from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) stating it was a natural diamond, D color, flawless clarity, and triple-excellent cut, reinforcing the growing importance of secondary review from gemological institutes.
China’s National Gemstone Testing Center (NGTC) recently tested a new variety of yellow CVD laboratory-grown diamonds. According to NGTC, they tested stones between 1 – 2 ct, the color of the stones varied from pale yellow to dark brownish yellow, including pure bright yellow. NGTC identified some typical inclusions, including pinpoint dark-color inclusions or dark-color inclusions distributed layer by layer. After production, these lab-grown diamonds are processed in high temperature and high-pressure conditions to remove the brownness hue and enhance their transparency.
Lately there has been another avalanche of press releases and media attention drawn to Laboratory Grown Diamond (LGD) producers and retailers who decide to jump on board of the LGD train. Before everybody starts to scream bloody murder, the whole LGD debate, this opinion piece included, is not about one versus the other. The point is precisely the opposite.
Last week Pandora announced it would no longer sell mined diamonds, and instead launched a collection using lab-grown diamonds (LGDs), as a part of their sustainability strategy. The announcement caused leading diamond and jewelry organizations to lash out as they believe the retailer misrepresented natural diamonds and caused harm to the industry.
Jewelry brand Pandora launches a new collection using lab-grown diamonds (LGD). According to the brand, the decision is part of their sustainability strategy which includes the plan to ensure its operations are carbon neutral by 2025. Pandora CEO Alexander Lacik stated the LGD collection stands as a testament to the company’s ongoing and ambitious sustainability agenda and proves “Diamonds are not only forever, but for everyone.”
And it’s especially the last part of the sentence that seems to be key in the brand’s decision.
Roy Safit (Everledger) provides good reasons why the natural diamond industry is robust enough to cope with the growth of synthetic alternatives.
Lab-grown diamonds have been portrayed as a juggernaut that’s gathering pace in the fast lane of the precious stone freeway. The demise of the natural pearl industry, following the introduction of cultured pearls during the first decades of the 20th Century, provides a stern warning for the diamond industry.
GIA recently discovered a number of diamonds, submitted at GIA for an update on their grading report, for which the characteristics did not correspond with the grading of the certificate. All stones turned out to be either LGD or treated natural diamonds with a counterfeit laserinscription on the girdle, while the original certificates all belonged to natural, untreated diamonds.
In his latest editorial piece, JCK News Director Rob Bates talks about an emerging trend in the LGD landscape, where some producers of the man-made stones are differentiating their product highlighting the grown diamonds haven't been treated to enhance their appearance. The vast majority of LGD diamonds have a brownish colour in their raw form and are treated and retouched through various processes, to make them whiter or cleaner, which often leaves a reddish or silvery tinge on the stone, one producer states.
Following a vote on Monday, members of the Bharat Diamond Bourse (BDB) have decided to lift the ban that was instated in 2015, prohibiting the trade in LGD. According to BDB officials, companies will have to adhere to a set of rules to be able to trade LGD, such as the creation and registration of separate entities for those trading in both (natural) diamonds and LGD, implementation of separate inventories and processes etc. Earlier, India's GJEPC announced the addition of a LGD membership category, following requests of members.
In a press release, that notably contains not a single mentioning of the mining company De Beers that established the LGD brand, Lightbox today announced the completion and opening of its US-based production unit as well as a deal with jewelry e-tailer Blue Nile, for a dedicated fashion jewelry collection available on the online retailers website as of today. The manufacturing facility in Portland will produce an estimated 200,000ct of "USA made" lab-grown diamonds annually.
In a contribution on Rough & Polished India correspondent Aruna details India's figures for September, released by the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council.
Key take-aways comparing September 2020 to September 2019:
- polished exports were down 19.6%
- rough imports increased modestly with 16.18%
- LGD polished exports were up 89.55%
- LGD rough imports increased 117.6%
De Beers' LGD jewelry line, Lightbox Jewelry is expanding its scope and will now be sold in 28 additional stores of 10 independent retailers in the US and Canada. Since its launch, Lightbox has been priced uniformly at US$800 per carat. In an interview with JCK News, Nick Smart, the company's commercial director commented that Lightbox products offer "an attractive margin" for the retailer and that in the LGD space, prices have already come down significantly, close to the level of Lightbox' pricing model.
In an in-depth piece, Forbes' Pamela N. Danziger concludes that while official statistics on (diamond) jewelry consumption in the COVID era are scarse, the likely negative effect of the pandemic in the short and medium turn has caused two rivalling segments, the natural and LGD diamond industries, to have ceased hostilities.
Independent diamond industry analyst Paul Zimnisky examines the growing acceptance of synthetic diamonds from a known but rarely-discussed angle: synthetic diamonds deliver higher profit margins to retailers than natural diamonds.
[The lab-grown diamond industry is like] the Wild, Wild West, making eco claims for its products just because they don’t get their diamonds from the earth. Just because you are not mining does not make your production sustainable.
- Stanley Mathuram, a vice-president SCS Global Services. Lab Grown Diamond Council has commissioned SCS to produce a standards framework on sustainability. Few growers are participating in the pilot.
In his latest editorial, JCK editor-in-chief and industry expert Rob Bates makes a case for a ceasefire between the natural diamond industry and the lab-grown sector.
In recent months the mudslinging back and forth between the two "intimately connected sectors" has reached new heights, which Bates believes will be negative in the long run for the entire industry, natural and LGD alike.
Barely a week after Jeweller Magazine reported Michael Hill (MHI), the jewelry retailer operating 312 stores in Australia, New Zealand, Canada as well as selling jewelry online, made misleading claims in its marketing by describing their lab-grown diamonds using terms as “real”, “genuine” and “authentic”, the company has changed its messaging.
The Lab Grown Diamond Council (LGDC) was launched today in New York with the objective to develop and implement a multi-tiered, international communications program designed to increase the awareness of, knowledge about, and demand for laboratory-grown diamonds. The LGDC was formed by jewelry industry veterans Chris Casey, the former National Jeweler publisher who will serve as president, and Michael Barlerin, who also heads the Silver Promotion Service and will be its chairman.
It is a joint decision of the profession and the French Union of Jewellery not to grade synthetic diamonds, unlike other international laboratories. These stones do not have to be evaluated on the same scale as natural ones, because they are an imitation of the diamond and must remain so. This decision is unanimous in the profession except for those who want to promote this [lab-grown] material. But it must be remembered that the increase of synthetic diamonds on the market will bring down their price.
In 2014, I wrote that the lab-grown diamond industry was out-promoting the natural. That is even more pronounced now. I don’t get many pitches from natural diamond companies. And some of the pitches I do get are kind of dull. By contrast, I get at least two or three pitches on lab-grown diamonds a week. My Facebook feed is inundated with ads for lab-grown companies. The man-made segment claims only a single-digit percentage of the market, but it appears to be doing an outsized percentage of the marketing ...
Richline Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, announced that it is partnering with both JCPenney and Macy’s to introduce its new jewelry brand, Grown With Love, Lab Grown Diamonds this holiday season. As JCK reports, the line will include fashion as well as bridal components. "The Macy’s line will include stones up to 3 cts., while the J.C. Penney line tops off at around 1.5 cts.
Having set our sights on a half-carat white solitaire pendant set in a silver necklace for $500, today we received an e-mail informing us we can place our order tomorrow (Thursday). Lightbox - De Beers' lab-grown diamond jewelry line - which has sparked outcry, applause, debate, and concern throughout the diamond world (natural as well as synthetic) will finally make its debut after a heated summer. The line as it now stands consists of pastel pink, white and baby-blue lab-grown studs and pendants, priced from $200 for a quarter carat to $800 for one carat, not including the setting.
We don’t have any idea to develop lab-grown diamonds at this moment because we don’t see any market for it right now. Chow Tai Fook is a jewelry brand as well as a diamond brand, and our brand value is authenticity, so we have to live up to that. It’s important to understand that Chinese consumers value natural as real, and there’s no grey area in China when it comes to man-made diamonds.
- Kent Wong, managing director of Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group, from an interview with Avi Krawitz, Rapaport News.
Signet Jewelers' CEO Gina Drosos said the brand will follow consumer demand when deciding whether the company will start selling lab-grown diamonds in its stores, which currently number about 3,500 (3,000 in North America, 500 international). Industry insiders have told us they suspect decision has already been made. The CEO made the remark during a conference call about Signet's Q2 2019 results.
Ethics: it's "More than a PR issue!" The Diamond Development Initiative (DDI), a non-profit working to improve the lives and working conditions of artisanal and small-scale miners in Africa, issued a response to the recent decision by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on synthetic diamonds and how it could impact the market for artisanally-mined diamonds.
Industry consultant Ben Janowski takes an in-depth look at the developments that led De Beers to enter into the laboratory-grown diamond jewelry sector, and what Lightbox may mean long-term for the mining giant. Published in full courtesy of Ben Janowski, who will be lecturing at the Antwerp Summer University program, "From Mine to Finger 2018: A deep dive into the world of diamonds."*
In what can only be described as a victory for laboratory-grown diamond producers, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has dropped the word 'natural' from its definition of a diamond, essentially redefining 'diamond' to include non-mined gemstones, as part its new guides for the jewelry industry. It further gives additional leeway to existing standards regarding the description of lab-grown diamonds (and metal alloys), and has dropped 'synthetic' as an appropriate descriptor of lab-grown diamonds except under certain circumstances.
A full house at the Antwerp Diamond Bourse, including stakeholders from across the spectrum of the diamond industry, greeted De Beers Group representatives Paul Rowley and Nimesh Patel as they explained the company's foray into the synthetic diamond jewelry market and reinforced its commitment to the natural diamond industry.
This past Monday, the JCK Las Vegas show and jewelry week surrounding it came to its conclusion with steady trading reflecting a confident US market, despite a significant dip in the number of exhibitors and foot traffic at the various shows. The exhibitors and organizers acknowledged the decline of visitors, but were adamant that those attending the events headed out to the desert with a greater sense of purpose than in prior years, as buyers were looking for specific goods and exhibitors were maintaining existing relationships.
Signet CEO Virginia 'Gina' Drosos recently spoke with Yahoo Finance about digital marketing and millennials, providing some candid perspectives about the thought process of the retail giant. Perhaps her most ringing comment, however, was about laboratory-grown diamonds.
WD Lab Grown Diamonds, based in Maryland in the US, has announced the creation a 6-carat round laboratory-grown diamond, which it says, "now stands as the world's only known lab-made CVD diamond of its size and shape." The company says the large synthetic diamond, made using Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) technology, was "grown in just a few months, as opposed to the millions of years it takes to form a diamond in nature." The company's facility, located just outside Washington, DC, produces synthetic diamonds for the jewelry market as well f
Independent analyst and consultant on diamonds and the mining industry, and publisher of the Zimnisky Global Rough Diamond Price Index, Paul Zimnisky has published an in-depth article on the current state of lab-created diamonds and where the industry goes from here. Reprinted from Paul Zimnisky Diamond Analytics, courtesy of Paul Zimnisky.
Independent analyst and consultant on diamonds and the mining industry, and publisher of the Zimnisky Global Rough Diamond Price Index, Paul Zimnisky has published an overview of Natural versus Lab-created Diamond Price (1ct)
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) on December 5 published the following press release: Following a five-month pilot program which started in June 2016, clients are now able to submit round D-to-Z melee-size diamonds through their fully automated GIA Melee Analysis Service.
On June 16, Amazon launched a new diamond jewelry Collection, selling jewelry set with both natural and lab-grown diamonds manufactured by a joint venture between Dutch startup House of Eleonore and Royal Asscher.
The increasingly ugly 'debate' between the synthetic and natural mined diamond industries is the subject of a commentary by JCK's Rob Bates. He mentions comments by Martin Roscheisen, the CEO of synthetic manufacturer Diamond Foundry, claiming that the mining industry “enslaves people.” And in another interview, when asked about the unemployment that synthetics might spark in African countries, Roscheisen compared that to releasing drug dealers.