ANALYST: DE BEERS’ LAB-GROWN INITIATIVE – “AN EARTHQUAKE”
In late May, De Beers announced the launch of a new company – Lightbox Jewelry – to market a new brand of lab-grown diamond jewelry under the Lightbox name, and produced by De Beers’ synthetics lab Element Six. According to industry expert Ehud Laniado, De Beers’ announcement has had an “immediate ripple effect, reverberating throughout the diamond pipeline, from miners to retailers […] it is an earthquake”.
What is De Beers Offering?
Lightbox lab-grown diamonds will come in pink, blue and white, and will retail from $200 for a 0.25-carat stone to $800 for a 1-carat stone. According to Laniado, Lightbox Jewelry “offers lab-grown diamonds at $800 per carat, regardless of size, color, clarity, or any other characteristic commonly used for diamonds”. They jewelry pieces can be set in silver for $100 or 10kt gold for $200, “distinguishing them from bridal jewelry and somewhat above custom or fashion jewelry”. The goods will not be certified.
Bruce Cleaver, CEO of De Beers, commented on the move: “Lightbox will transform the lab-grown diamond sector by offering consumers a lab-grown product they have told us they want but aren’t getting: affordable fashion jewelry that may not be forever, but is perfect for right now […] After decades of R&D investment, we’re able to offer consumers a better price today […]”.
If De Beers succeeds, Laniado says, “they will have performed a great service for the entire diamond industry” – from huge miners like Alrosa and Rio Tinto to polished diamond traders – “by helping them all protect their core business – selling polished diamonds and diamond jewelry to consumers who appreciate them and their rarity, and are therefore willing to pay what they are worth”.
Laniado also lists a possible negative outcome, namely: a general degradation in the position of natural diamonds, since consumers “may have reached a […] conclusion, specifically that the perceived backing of lab-grown goods by De Beers means that they, too, should take lab-grown more seriously, and naturals a little less”.