De Beers, the world’s largest natural diamond producer, is now manufacturing machine-made diamonds through an offshoot, Company Element Six. Up to now, Element Six has been a world leader in diamond synthesis for industrial purposes only. Still, they have moved into producing lab-grown diamonds for the De Beers jewellery division.
De Beers has officially launched a new range of jewellery called ‘Lightbox’ to showcase the machine-made diamond at the JFK show in Las Vegas.
De Beers Company’s executive vice-president of corporate affairs, David Prager, and Sally Morrison, who is heading up the lab-grown fashion jewellery brand, say;
“We regularly look at developments in the jewellery sector, and over the past 18 months, we undertook extensive research to gain a deep understanding of consumer views and perceptions of lab-grown diamonds.”
They go on to elaborate;
“This research revealed that consumers do see a place for lab-grown diamonds in jewellery, but that they see them as fun products that belong in fashion jewellery, and that they feel their pricing should reflect this”
For now, they are limiting their new collection to the US, but how long before they launch it worldwide and move it into their precious jewellery and you see it for sale in their flagship London store in Bond Street?
THEY SAY THE BENEFITS OF LAB DIAMONDS
Lab-grown diamonds are sustainable; they are ethically grown and have a minimal environmental impact.
BEAUTY & QUALITY
Lab-grown diamonds have the same physical, chemical, and optical properties as natural mined diamonds.
Lab-grown diamonds can offer excellent value and are slightly more affordable than natural diamonds of comparable size and quality.
THE IMPACT ON THE JEWELLERY TRADE
There have been many changes in the jewellery trade since my apprenticeship in the early 80s, good and bad. But I will leave those for another day. But this story emulating from De Beers is probably the most disturbing of them all and the most damaging potentially to the jewellery trade in the long-term.
For the largest producer of natural diamonds to become involved and put their good name to the world of lab-grown diamonds is just too terrible for words alone.
Is there a place for lab-grown made-to-order diamonds? Yes, there is, especially for those looking for a stone with little impact on the environment and those looking to save money. They may even appeal to those who only look at the purchase of a natural diamond as a commodity buy and looking for the least expensive deal.
But with savings of up to 20% over their natural counterparts, is that enough for you to purchase one?
There is also charisma and beauty in choosing a natural diamond over a machine-made one. No two natural diamonds will have the same characteristics, whereas machine-made ones will never be one-offs.
Machine-made diamonds will continue to grow, that is for sure, but in my opinion, they should not be sold alongside a natural diamond piece of jewellery. It will only confuse the buying public and devalue the stunning beauty of a natural diamond. But, with the potential damage De Beers could do by putting their name on the lab-grown market, the only thing left would be for GIA to issue certificates for them. If that happens, it might be time for me to close the door on the trade I love.
About David Law
As a diamond expert with over 35 years of trade experience, I would be happy to chat with you in more significant detail about the difference between a natural and manufactured diamond