There is no fundamental change in the small diamond segment. The slowdown in the smaller sizes during the second half of last year is mainly cyclical – it is driven primarily by demand-supply dynamics. It is a misconception that there is any fundamental change in consumer behavior. The prices are coming down to where they should be, and this is mainly because retailers have realized how large the margins of LGD manufacturers have been. They are now understanding the pricing dynamics for this category and are asking their suppliers why they are charging so much.
The marketing battle between the natural diamond industry and laboratory-grown diamond producers and their advocates is intensifying. Not a week goes by without the latest effusive article - sponsored or otherwise - appearing about the inevitable rise of synthetics. While the traditional issue of the undisclosed mixing of synthetics with natural is still very topical, recent debates have shifted to nomenclature, pricing, transparency and corporate social responsibility.
Indpendent diamond industry analyst Paul Zimnisky takes an alternative, well-considered approach to recycled diamonds: they could be the shot in the arm the natural diamond industry needs.
The Diamond Producers Association (DPA) and Signet Jewelers have published the first results of their ASSURE Program to independently and objectively test the performance of laboratory-grown diamond detectors (Diamond Verification Instruments). The program intends to eventually test and identify each machine on the market concerning how well they detected or referred man-made stones, including the rate at which they gave false positives.
The Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) has introduced new national codes for rough (unworked) and cut (worked) synthetic diamonds and other synthetic gemstones based on the Harmonized System (HS) Code, the international nomenclature to classify traded products.
"If even a fraction of Chinese production is upgraded to jewelry-quality diamonds, it would have a very significant impact on the global supply which is only in the low-millions-of-carats," independent diamond analyst Paul Zimnisky told Xinhua News journalists Wang Zichen and Shi Linjing.
A quick comparison of retail prices show a price difference [between LGDs & naturals] of 20-40%, depending on the specific goods and the retailers’ branding, market positioning, etc. Wholesale prices behave very differently. In the wholesale market diamonds are priced as a commodity ... a much more accurate way of measuring price changes over time. Polished wholesale prices of LGDs are 50-85% lower than those of natural diamonds ... the smaller the goods, the larger the price difference. On average, 1-ct.
The Antwerp diamond trade was nothing if not balanced in 2018. The industry traded a total of $46 billion in 2018, representing an increase of less than a percentage point over 2017 ($45.9 billion). The value of value of the goods flowing in and out of Antwerp was once again divided equally between rough and polished goods, with the polished trade good for $22.9 billion and the rough trade representing $23.1 billion.
Fomer Dominion Diamond Mines CEO Patrick Evans is planning to launch a company making laboratory-grown diamonds, according to an article by Henry Sanderson of the Financial Times. Evans last month left Dominion - the world's third largest diamond producer by market value and Canada’s largest independent diamond producer - after just over a year at the helm. He is also the former CEO of Canada's Mountain Province Diamonds, a position he held for twelve years.
Brands need to be concerned about over-sentimentalizing peoples’ relationships with diamonds as a representation of love. The American middle class is much weaker today than it was when De Beers came out with their famous ‘Diamonds are forever’ campaign. And with diminished purchasing power, consumers are more willing to look into alternative choices for rings, making lab-grown diamonds and gemstones more attractive.
The card game company Cards Against Humanity has a long history of pulling Black Friday stunts, writes Laura Hudson for The Verge. "This year, Cards Against Humanity has decided to take its disdain for the capitalistic holiday to an absurd new extreme with a 99 percent off sale on a rotating series of expensive and spectacularly bizarre items," she writes. “Every ten minutes, a new deal will go live on this page," reads the official website. "Don’t be frightened by the deals.
Independent diamond industry analyst and consultant Paul Zimnisky, proprietor of the Zimnisky Global Rough Diamond Price Index, takes an in-depth look at developments in the laboratory-grown diamond market in his latest contribution to the discussion, "2018: The Year of the Lab-created Diamond". Here he focuses on the impact (or current lack thereof) that De Beers launch of its Lightbox lab-grown diamond line (announced late May 2018, first available late September 2018) has had on the pricing of laboratory-grown goods.
Despite rumors to the contrary, the Bharat Diamond Bourse (BDB) has told The Times of India (TOI) that it has no plans to lift the ban on trading synthetic diamonds in the bourse, a rule that entered into force in 2015 following a spate of undisclosed mixing of natural and synthetic goods.
The recent Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reversal regarding the definition of a diamond would seem to be a landmark decision. In reality, it is much ado about nothing. Since 1956, the FTC has defined a diamond as something natural, meaning from the Earth; now synthetic diamond manufacturers are allowed to use the word diamond to describe their product. Not an earth shattering development, really ... The FTC ruling stipulates that synthetic diamonds must still be described as lab-grown or cultured or in some clear way be distinguished from natural diamonds.
The International Institute of Diamond Grading & Research (IIDGR), a member of De Beers Group, yesterday announced that its industry-first synthetic screening device, SYNTHdetect, was awarded Industry Innovation of the Year at the JNA Awards in Hong Kong. The announcement follows the launch earlier during the week of IIDGR's SYNTHdetect XL, a larger version of the original model that provides additional efficiencies for users, allowing a multiple pieces of jewelry to be screened at an even faster rate while using the same technology as the original SYNTHdetec.
Last week, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) and the University of Antwerp hosted an “Innovation and Diamonds” conference at the Antwerpsche Diamantkring - the only rough diamond bourse in the world - featuring internationally-recognized experts from across the spectrum of the diamond trade, including alternative financing, the impact of digital on the luxury segment, the feasibility of small-scale ethical mining, as well as the earthquake and aftershocks of De Beers’ foray into lab-grown diamonds: LightBox.
Independent analyst Paul Zimnisky estimates by 2035, lab-grown diamond jewelry will achieve total sales $15 billion, as it grows from its current estimated level of estimated $1.9 billion. He bases his estimate on growth of 22% annually to $5.2 billion by 2023 and to $14.9 billion by 2035, equating to a longer-term growth rate of about 9% rate annually. In terms of market share, his research leads him to conclude that lab-grown jewelry will have gained 5% of the market for diamond jewelry (>$250) and 7% for fashion jewelry (<$250) in the same timeframe.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) last week published an article on a most curious discovery: "One Natural Melee Diamond Found in Large Batch of HPHT Synthetic Melee".
The Diamond Producers Association recently released a statement addressing the controversial changes the US's FTC has adopted regarding the definition and description of diamonds, among other issues.
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."*
The World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) has responded to the revised U.S. Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) guidelines released last week as they relate to the issue of descriptors for diamonds. The industry body regrets the "bias towards the lab-grown diamond sector", said WFDB President Ernie Blom, adding, "we do not feel that the views of the diamond sector were taken sufficiently into account", and called for the FTC to revisit their decision.
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.
Element Six, a synthetic diamond manufacturer and member of the De Beers group of companies, planted their shovels in tthe Oregon soil to mark the symbolic commencement of construction on their $94 million manufacturing facility for laboratory-grown gems, produced exclusively for De Beers’ new fashion-jewelry brand, Lightbox Jewelry. The new brand will offer consumers laboratory-grown diamonds in high quality designs for casual, everyday occasions at lower prices than existing synthetic offerings.
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.
“We are not planning to change our strategy, integrate in the new market (synthetic product market) and launch our own synthetic production, or sell lab-grown diamonds. It is obvious that ALROSA as a diamond producer and one of the founders of Diamond Producers Association (DPA) hopes that this initiative will lead to differentiation of diamonds and synthetic stones, underlining the status of synthetics as a distinct low-price product.
De Beers this morning dropped a bomb on the diamond jewelry world with the announcement that they are launching a new brand of fashion jewelery containing laboratory-grown diamonds (LGDs). Called Lightbox Jewelry, the new brand will offer consumers LGDs in high quality designs for casual, everyday occasions at lower prices than existing LGD offerings. "Lightbox will bring something entirely new and innovative to LGDs, by combining colour and sparkle in fashion jewellery, and at very accessible retail prices", the miner writes in a document sent to stakeholders.
It will be very difficult for lab-diamond manufacturers to protect price as production processes and economics improve. Ultimately, this will result in lab-diamonds becoming more of their own separate product class, maybe not in the realm of 'fashion jewelry', but their own, completely distinct product class from natural diamonds. Lab-diamond companies that build a very strong brand through marketing or proprietary jewellery design will be less susceptible to price pressure ... Price is a lab-created diamond’s greatest advantage over a natural equivalent.
ALROSA has introduced its long anticipated commercial detector for identifying natural and synthetic polished diamonds - the ALROSA Diamond Inspector, first introduced in 2016. The Company expects that its relatively low price ($9,900) and high accuracy will allow the detector to be in demand in Russia as well as abroad. "It will help fight unscrupulous suppliers who mix synthetic stones grown in the laboratory with diamonds of natural origin", the companys says.
Independent diamond-industry analyst Paul Zimnisky turns his attention to synthetic diamonds, noting that the price gap between diamonds and laboratory-grown gems has widened by an average of approximately 100% in the past year - doubling from 11-20% a year ago to 28-40% today, according to a survey of prices.
Diamonds and other precious stones forming part of a Czech National Museum collection in Prague, assumed to be worth millions of dollars, were discovered during a routine audit to be fakes and synthetics. The cheap imitations include a 5-carat diamond, which is just a piece of glass, and a 19-carat sapphire which turned out to be synthetic. As told by Radio Praha, "The major reconstruction of the headquarters of the National Museum in Prague has revealed more than just peeling paint and cracks in the walls.
Sergey Ivanov (37), the young CEO and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the world’s largest diamond miner, ALROSA, was in Antwerp for the company’s annual meeting with its 56 long-term clients. ALROSA is a traditional company in a traditional business, and still evokes the reputation of a state-owned giant despite the partial privatization (currently 34%) of the company a few years ago.
Many laboratory-grown diamond companies describe their diamonds as being green or eco-friendly and use words such as ‘greenhouse’ or ‘foundry’ to try and influence opinion. [Consumers] are also being told that [synthetic] diamonds are real diamonds without the human or environmental impact. This is a misrepresentation. They deceive the consumer, because a synthetic diamond is not worth much at retail value. Millennials are being fed lies, because the gap between reality and marketing is huge.
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
Nine of the leading diamond industry organizations and jewelry associations have jointly released the Diamond Terminology Guideline, containing recommendations for describing diamonds and synthetic diamonds, announced the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) and CIBJO the World Jewellery Confederation in a press release. The Guideline, based on ISO standards and the CIBJO Diamond Blue Book, is intended to set the universal standard for communicating about diamonds and their laboratory-grown counterparts.
Vrai & Oro, the jewelry designer owned by laboratory-grown diamond producer Diamond Foundry, has closed its Los Angeles retail store after only six months. Despite several articles by the likes of Vogue announcing their partnership, and The Hollywood Reporter dropping Hollywood names like headliner Leonardo DiCaprio, the designer has come to the conclusion, "that retail is a true challenge." The Los Angeles fine jewelry label, which was purchased by Diamond Foundry in November of last year, opened a store in downtown L.A. at the ROW DTLA shopping center last August.
In their attempt to position synthetics as responsible alternatives to diamonds, many manufacturers have been propagating misleading, outdated, and inaccurate information about the diamond industry. This information ignores the significant changes which have occurred in the diamond sector over the past 15 years.
Jean-Marc Lieberherr, CEO of Diamond Producers Association
Last month, The New York Times posted an article entitled “Atelier Swarovski Turns to Man-Made Gems”. Jean-Marc Lieberherr, CEO of the Diamond Producers Association, would call this an oxymoron. Gems by definition are not man-made, not to mention the fact that calling them such contradicts the standards of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
Since 2012, CVD synthetic diamonds have been tested and identified by National Gemstone Testing Center (NGTC) in Beijing, typically in sizes above 0.20 ct. Since 2015, a large number of melee-size colorless and near-colorless synthetic diamonds have been detected in daily screenings at NGTC labs.