Swarovski, the famous producer of precision-cut crystals, this week launched a new collection of lab-grown diamonds in 16 colors at the Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week, a clear challenge to De Beers' Lightbox brand of synthetic gemstones. The company in 2016 launched its Diama collections in the US, using synthetic diamonds, and entered the lab-grown market as producers in 2018 with its Swarovski Created Diamonds.
As we welcome a new year and extend our hopes that you, our readers, will enjoy good health and good fortune in 2020, we take a moment to look back at the issues and articles of the past year that most sparked your interest.
Based on research from Rob Bates of JCK Magazine, the United States' largest retailer of diamond jewelry, Signet Jewelers, is now selling laboratory-grown diamonds at all its major U.S. jewelry banners. These include Kay, Jared and Zales, as well as their online site James Allen, which was already selling them. David Bouffard, Vice President, Corporate Affairs, told Bates that the sythetic diamonds will be available in bridal as well as fashion jewelry. Jared is selling loose lab-grown diamonds and ring settings as part of its Chosen collection.
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.
The De Beers Group has created a new booklet to clearly differentiate between two "entirely different" products, with two entirely different value propositions, which now form part of its product portfolio: natural and laboratory-grown diamonds.
Former CEO and now chairman emeritus of Rosy Blue Alliance, Dilip Mehta, has announced a new venture into synthetic diamonds, partnering with his sons to launch a business in Surat. Mehta is just the latest of many diamond veterans to test the synthetic-diamond waters. Speaking to the Times of India, Mehta made clear that the venture was fully independent of Rosy Blue. "This one is our own venture and nothing to do with Rosy Blue," he is quoted as saying.
The European Commission has adopted a new customs code to differentiate between natural and synthetic diamonds. In a communication to the members of the national associations of the European Federation of Jewellery (EFJ) and to public authorities, the association applauded the pending entry into force of the new European customs code for synthetic diamonds. This code, introduced in the European combined nomenclature (Chapter 71), will enter into force as from January 1, 2020.
The 4th International Jewelry & Diamond Conference 2019 – Guangzhou, jointly held by the Guangzhou Diamond Exchange and the Guangdong Gems & Jade Exchange (GDGJE) will take place on November 21-22. The conference will be held in Panyu, Guangzhou, the major cluster of the diamond and jewelry industry of China, and will welcome industry representatives, associations from around the world and delegates from local governments.
Beginning this month, De Beers' lab-grown diamond brand Lightbox Jewelry will be available at two select Bloomingdale’s department stores (one in N.Y., one in San Francisco) and 30 Reeds Jewelers stores in a trial run to see whether their product and value proposal perform in traditional bricks-and-mortar retail environments, reports Forbes magazine. Until now, the only way to purchase Lightbox fashion jewelry was through its website or through an occasional pop-up promotion.
Back in May of this year, the Lab Grown Diamond Council (LGDC) trade organization retained a third-party certifier and standards developer, SCS Global Services (SCS), to audit and analyze lab grown diamonds against a stringent set of sustainability criteria. SCS has now launched a pilot project for leading producers and retailers of synthetic diamonds.
India has introduced a specific, 8-digit HS (Harmonized System) code for synthetic rough diamonds in an attempt to maintain the integrity of the diamond pipeline, an issue for which the Indian diamond industry has been subject to criticism in recent years.
HRD Antwerp today announced its expansion into the UK market with the opening of a new drop-off point in London’s Hatton Garden, giving UK jewelers easy access to HRD Antwerp’s services, such as jewelry and diamond grading reports and testing for synthetics.
“I’m actually really excited about it. I think it was a very positive development for the industry. It clearly serves to differentiate the two markets. The synthetic diamond market is not the same as the natural diamond market and they can co-exist ... there’s no store of value in a synthetic diamond. Rather, synthetic diamonds are filling a niche around fashion jewellery and we see it almost as an entry level opportunity for consumers. That’s how we see synthetics and natural diamonds playing together in this market."
An annual tradition, industry veterans Chaim Even-Zohar and Pranay Narvekar present the 2018 iteration of The Tacy Diamond Pipeline, with an in-depth look at the impact that the rise and acceptance of laboratory-grown diamonds has had on the industry this past year.
Is the goal of Lightbox to lower the price of lab-growns?
As announced last week, Rapaport's RapNet - the world’s largest diamond trading network - gave its members the opportunity to vote on whether it should provide diamond listing and pricing services for synthetic diamonds.
While more than 300 million voters go to the polls this week for the European Parliament elections, members of RapNet - the world’s largest diamond trading network - will have the opportunity to vote on whether it should provide diamond listing and pricing services for synthetic diamonds, yet ultimately the organization itself will decide.
The issue of terminology concerning laboratory-grown diamonds has in recent years been a subject of significant debate, deliberation, conflicting guidelines and warnings issued.
Researchers at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) recently identified a natural diamond with a CVD (lab-grown) layer, creating a composite of synthetically grown and natural diamond that added weight and improved the color. Given that this was the second discovery of such a composite, the fist coming in 2017, warning that "this could be a new type of product entering the market."
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.
This weekend, May 11 -13, the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) will be hosting what it is calling the "first-ever rough laboratory-grown diamonds tender" on its Dubai Diamond Exchange (DDE). According to a press release, 50,000 carats of Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD) lab-grown diamonds will be on offer. "The tender is in line with DMCC’s strategy to attract, facilitate and drive new trade flows through Dubai," the organization says.
As of yesterday, May 1, Signet Jewelers' e-tailer James Allen will offer laboratory-created diamonds, becoming the first Signet-owned entity to do so, reports Rob Bates of JCK. "This is a test," says Oded Edelman, president of the James Allen site, which was Signet Jewelers purchased in 2017. "If consumers adopt it, then maybe it’s a sign for the rest of Signet to adopt it as well. We’ll wait and see how it goes.”
The Guangzhou Diamond Exchange (GZDE) last week signed strategic cooperation agreements with China’s major laboratory-grown diamond suppliers, designer associations and other partners to jointly develop and promote LGDs, with a particular focus on design and fashion. The GZDE held a forum entitled “Discover the Magic of Lab-Grown Diamonds” during the 2019 China International Gold, Jewellery & Gem Fair – Shenzhen (Shenzhen Jewellery Fair), with a view to finding greater commercial application.
Mining in Africa is at the core of our business, just as it always has been, and just as it will be in future ... De Beers is and will remain a natural diamond business.
- De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver discusses Africa portfolio, exploration, technology and laboratory-grown diamonds.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which investigates allegations of deceptive advertising, sent eight letters to jewelry marketers warning them that some of their online advertisements of jewelry made with simulated or laboratory-created diamonds may deceive consumers, in violation of the FTC Act. The organization warned that failure to follow the Guides may result in enforcement actions if the FTC determines the companies engaged in unfair or deceptive acts or practices.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is updated its grading reports for laboratory-grown diamonds to align with the revised Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Jewelry Guides, and as of July 1, 2019 will drop term 'synthetic' when referring to diamonds created in a lab.
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.