2018 will go down in history as the year of Lab-grown diamonds with unprecedented developments shaping the industry – from FTC’s ruling, De Beers’ Lightbox entry, record-breaking sizes, popular celebrities and socialites adorning Lab-grown jewelry to hordes of new players entering the industry. Nothing in history has stirred and moved the industry so much as the developments of 2018. We recapture such major and prominent news and incidents in 2018 about Lab Grown Diamonds.
Lab-grown Diamond Industry
1) Real-ity Prevailed: FTC declared Lab Grown Diamonds are Diamonds
US FTC (Federal Trade Commission) issued a new guideline that Lab Grown Diamonds are diamonds too and discerned no difference in ‘mined’ or ‘grown’ diamonds. Use of the term ‘Synthetics’, as practised by mining companies and some traders in diamond industry, to imply that Lab-grown diamonds are not actual diamonds, was also termed as deceptive. FTC’s new definition omitted the word “natural” from definition of diamond. The ruling also allowed the word “Cultured” to be used for Lab-grown diamonds, with right qualifiers; and also made some clarity to distinguish between Lab-grown diamonds and Simulants. The game changing development inched closer to create a level-playing field for everyone in the industry.
2) Lab-grown Diamonds market grew significantly
According to various sources, including Bain-AWDC 2018 report, Morgan Stanley, les Echos etc., current production of Lab-grown diamonds is around 2 – 2.5 million carats and has increased from 200,000 – 350,000 carats three-to-four years back. Production is forecasted to grow up to 10 – 17 million carats by 2030 with current growth rates of 15-20%. By 2020, the market share of Lab-grown diamonds is predicted to rise from 3% to 7%; and by 2023 value of Lab-grown diamonds is expected to grow to USD 27.6 – 28.59 Billion, clocking a CAGR of 7.4% – 7.65%.
3) Consumers said ‘Yes’ to Lab-grown Diamonds
According to a study by MVI Marketing consisting of 1,000+ American consumers aged between 21 and 40 years, 70% millennials would consider buying a Lab-grown diamond as an engagement ring, representing 13% percentage points increase.
4) Lab Grown Diamonds production cost and prices dropped
In March 2018, analysis by Paul Zimnisky showed that prices of Lab-grown diamonds drastically reduced in 2017 and were around 30 – 40% cheaper than mined diamonds, compared with price difference of 11 – 20% in 2017, a 71% YoY price differential widening. However, according to Bain-AWDC 2018 report on Global Diamond Industry, production cost of one carat of CVD Lab-grown diamond plummeted from around $ 4,000 in 2008 to around $ 300 – 500 now, driven by technology advancements. According to the same report, retail prices of gem-quality Lab-grown diamonds also dropped by 50% in past 2 years and wholesale prices threefold, triggered by recent price drops due to De Beers’ Lightbox “predatory” pricing strategy.
5) Barriers from traditional industry continued – De Beers engaged in arm-twisting of a Top 5 US Jewelry Retailer
According to a post published in ‘The Foundry Journal’ in Diamond Foundry’s website, a Top 5 US Jewelry Retailer, not being named, apart from being De Beers’ Forevermark diamonds retailer was also selling other jewelry brands including Lab-grown diamonds from Diamond Foundry. However, a De Beers’ executive called the retailer and threatened them to stop selling Lab-grown diamonds or lose access to De Beers’ Forevermark program and even to any De Beers’ Sightholders. Such coercion and strong-arming are blatant violations of any free trade principles and an indication that diamond cartel is still alive.
6) Gem Certification and Assurance Lab (GCAL) joined IGDA
The International Grown Diamond Association (IGDA), a not-for-profit Lab-grown diamond association announced the addition of Gem Certification and Assurance Lab (GCAL), the first diamond and gemstone laboratory to join the organization as a member. With almost 40 members, which includes leading Lab-grown diamond growers, distributors, suppliers, retailers and technical experts, IGDA members now span across US, China, Singapore etc. GCAL is very supportive of the evolving Lab-grown industry, providing full-level certifications of Lab-grown diamonds since 2015.
7) Pure Grown Diamonds Added Joseph Green To Senior Management Team
Pure Grown Diamonds, the pioneers in Lab-grown diamond industry and the largest selling grown diamond brand in the United States, announced Joseph Green as the Senior VP of Independent Sales. Joseph Green has 20+ years of experience and going to look into sales management, distribution networks, branding, and strategic planning departments of the brand.
8) Soha Diamond Co. represented Laboratory Grown Diamond Industry at 2018 GIA Symposium
Lab-grown diamond growers and retailers are historically and currently underrepresented or absent all together at symposiums, and many growers and retailers feel unwelcome in gemological circles. Soha Diamond Co. attended and represented the Laboratory Grown Diamond sector, which represents approximately 1% of the mined diamond industry in terms of size and revenue, at the GIA Symposium.
9) Robbins Brothers, The Engagement Ring Store Partnered with the National Forest Foundation for Earth Day 2018
In Celebration of Earth Day, Robbins Brothers, The Engagement Ring Store, partnered with the National Forest Foundation to plant 100 trees across National Forest System for every E3 Diamond purchased on weekend, April 20 – 22, in areas of greatest need, as determined by the U.S Forest Service. Robbins Brothers’ eco-friendly E3 Diamond Collection features exclusive, hand selected, Lab grown E3 diamonds in a collection of 14K recycled gold engagement rings, wedding bands and fashion jewelry.
Finance & Investments
10) PE firm invested in WD Lab Grown Diamonds
Recently, Washington-based WD Lab Grown Diamonds raised significant equity investment from PE firm Huron Capital, for an undisclosed amount, to further expand their capacity and build more partnerships. Headed by Clive Hill, the company already supplies Lab-grown diamonds to Berkshire Hathaway’s subsidiary Richline Group.
11) Japanese Lab Grown Diamond company launched ICO, powered by blockchain
Pure Diamonds Lab Co. Ltd., a production and R&D company, and the first one in Japan to create Lab-grown diamonds collaborated with Pure Diamond Farm, Singapore to launch an ICO (Initial Coin Offering) with the aim of raising USD 200 Mn primarily to fund its CAPEX, using block chain crypto currency technology, having zero impurities and including colored stones of Red, Blue and ‘Rainbow’ colors. The project has 2 phases, where the investors will be offered crypto currency – ‘Pure Diamond Coin’ (PDC).
12) Adamas One Corp bought Lab-grown diamond manufacturer Scio Diamond’s assets
According to a US SEC commission filing, Nevada-based Jewelry company Adamas One Corp acquired assets of Scio Diamond – a Lab-grown diamond manufacturer, and it will pay $ 3.3 million for Scio’s secured debt over a period of 18 months, give its 350,000 shares for Scio’s unsecured debts of over $ 3 million, besides giving 900,000 of its shares to owners of Scio Diamonds, upon finalization of Scio’s liquidation. Scio’s owners will be allowed to sell those shares 2 years after completion of agreement and subject to Adamas’ shareholder approval.
13) De Beers launched its Lab-grown Diamond brand – Lightbox
Through its subsidiary Element 6, De Beers was silently making strides in manufacturing technology and development of Lab-grown diamonds all these years, but against its publicly stated policy of never entering the Lab-grown diamond sector, De Beers made a U-turn and launched its Lab-grown diamond brand – Lightbox. The company decided to aggressively price its Lab-grown diamonds at USD 800 per carat – 75% less than the mined diamonds as opposed to the normal market rate of Lab-grown diamonds that is nearly 30 – 40% less. Positioning Lightbox as a fashion accessory to avoid positioning conflicts and self-cannibalization of mined diamonds, De Beers also decided not to provide certifications for its Lab-grown diamonds. The company invested close to USD 100 Million in a factory in US, with a capacity to produce 500,000 carats by 2020. This move by De Beers shook the industry and took everyone by surprise. In 2016, BDI had predicted that diamond miners will eventually shift to Lab-grown diamond business but we didn’t foresee it’ll start happening so soon.
14) Signet announced interest in Lab-grown diamonds
A Sightholder client for De Beers’ rough diamonds and a participant in the miner’s Tracr blockchain initiative, Signet Jewelers in a conference call with analysts mentioned that considering consumer demand and interests, they may consider selling Lab-grown diamonds. The company may possibly carry De Beers’ Lightbox collection to begin with.
15) Jennifer Fisher debuted in the Lab-grown diamond movement
Newest entry to the list of Lab-grown diamond retailers is Jennifer Fisher – a New York-based influential jeweler who debuted its Lab-grown 0.15 to 1 carat diamond collection in partnership with Diamond Foundry. The collection, called by Fisher as ‘the next generation of diamond studs’ comprises of angular diamond ‘micro-studs’ which are cut in sleek, asymmetrical shapes like trillions, emeralds and keystones.
16) Lark & Berry introduced Lab-grown diamond jewelry line
London-based Lark & Berry introduced Lab-grown diamonds jewelry line at a star-studded evening at the Cannes Film Festival. The jewelry was adorned by some Victoria Secret models and socialites aboard a super-yacht hosted by Lark & Berry.
17) Paris-based Courbet launched its first Lab-grown diamond jewelry collection
Paris-based Courbet launched its first collection, using Lab-grown diamonds and recycled metals, whose center piece will be engagement rings though necklace, bracelets, rings and earrings will also be available. To set their jewelry apart from conflict diamonds or negative legacy of mining, they are also laser-marking their stones
18) Long Jewellers started selling Lab-grown diamonds
30-year old Virginia Beach-based award winning jewelry retailer of designer wedding bands, engagement rings, Swiss timepieces and fine jewelry items – Long Jewellers, started selling Lab-grown diamonds. Sourced from Pure Grown Diamonds (PGD), the jeweller’s the then inventory included a selection of 25 loose white diamonds in various shapes and sizes.
19) Kingston Jewelers launched Lab-grown diamond collection
UK-based Kingston Jewelers launched its own brand of Lab-grown diamonds – Nova Diamonds. It is one of the first in UK to offer a collection of 40 different Lab-grown diamond rings. The company will be sourcing its stones from Madestones – a European supplier of Lab-grown diamonds.
20) Twilight Actress Nikki Reed started reselling Lab Grown Diamonds
Hollywood actress Nikki Reed, famous for Twilight, started reselling Lab-grown diamonds that are grown using solar energy in California. These diamonds will be used for Nikki’s Engagement line and will add to her recycled jewelry on fashion line ‘Bayou’. Nikki though prefers to call them Cultivated Diamonds.
21) High-tech diamond enterprise comes up in Moscow
A high-tech diamond enterprise with an area of over 11,000 sq. mts. announced to come up in Moscow, Russia. The park will have a research centre and a production complex; and the project is estimated to get funding of about 2.8 Bn Roubles (USD 45.5 Mn) financed by private investors.
Launches/ New Products
22) Apple’s executive designed world’s first solid Lab Grown diamond ring
Apple’s Chief Design Officer Sir Johny Ive, Marc Newsom – an award winning industrial designer and San Francisco-based Lab Grown diamond manufacturer Diamond Foundry collaborated to create the world’s first one-of-its-kind 45 carat diamond ring – a solid diamond ring made entirely out of diamond, including the band, which will have 2,000 to 3,000 microscopic facets .
23) Victoria’s Secret 2018 ‘Fantasy Bra’ featured Lab Grown diamonds
Global Lingerie wear major Victoria’s Secret tied up with Atelier Swarovski, to create its ‘2018 Dream Angels Fantasy Bra’, the centerpiece of its annual fashion show. It has been crafted in sterling silver and features 2,100 Lab Grown diamonds created by Swarovski. The 2018 Fantasy Bra is valued at USD 1 Million.
24) Penelope Cruz designed Lab-grown diamond jewelry line for Swarovski
Hollywood actress Penelope Cruz partnered with Atelier Swarovski to design a new Lab-grown diamond line, consisting a 14-piece collection, designed in matching set of earrings, necklaces, bracelets and rings and made of Lab-grown diamonds, rubies, sapphires and ethically mined topaz set in 18-karat fair trade gold. Penelope wore jewelry from the jewelry line collection at the launch during Paris Couture Week, official unveiling of which happened at a 19th century villa-turned-restaurant in central Paris.
25) Actress Camila Mendes, the latest Hollywood star to wear Lab Grown diamond
At People’s Choice Awards in Los Angeles, Riverdale actress Camila Mendes wore a ring with the world’s largest Lab Grown pink diamond. The CVD diamond also known as ‘American Beauty’ is a 5.01 carat square radiant cut stone, grown by Clean Origin and has been graded by GIA as ‘intense pinkish orange’.
26) ALTR Created Diamonds expanded into Australia
ALTR Created Diamonds launched to retailers in Australia at the 2018 Showcase Jewelers. ALTR Created Diamonds is now selling all over the world including in the United States, EU, China, Australia, India, Canada, Thailand, South Korea, Israel and South Africa. The company is experiencing aggressive growth and international expansion.
27) Soha Diamond Co. opened a ‘Click & mortar’ design studio
Soha Diamond Co. that sells Lab-grown diamonds and gemstones in 100% recycled precious metals opened a ‘Click & mortar’ design studio in Madison, Wisconsin. The concept is an extension of their e-commerce store, where shoppers can choose to browse and shop online, then chose to ship or pick-up from the studio where the company provides face-to-face service and attention, arming customers with transparency, education and market-based pricing.
28) Ada Diamonds offered personalization of diamonds
Ada Diamonds offered personalization of diamonds, letting customers create personalized diamonds from memories by submitting materials like flowers, cake, champagne cork from a photo, favourite memory etc., apart from customizing shopping experiences.
29) EcoStar Diamond introduced the Elite Collection
Washington-based EcoStar Diamonds, a Lab-grown diamond company recently introduced the Elite Collection consisting of Lab-grown diamonds to their already existing extensive collection. The collection consists of diamonds of the color in the range of DEF to VS.
30) The Jewelry Exchange launched new line of Lab Grown Diamonds for $499 per carat
The Jewelry Exchange added another line of Lab-grown diamond jewelry – True Radiant line, which will be available upto 1 carat for $499. True Radiant is a full collection of rings, pendants, earrings, bracelets, semi mounts and loose diamonds available for immediate purchase, and apparently is the only one with full line of Lab-grown diamond jewelry retail sale.
31) London’s Lark & Berry launched in-store piercing studio
London’s Lark & Berry launched an in-store piercing studio, having piercing collection made of 14-ct gold. They are the first jewelers to come out with an ear-piercing range using Lab-grown diamonds.
32) Jewelry Exchange advertised Lab Grown diamond jewelry
The Jewelry Exchange introduced Goldenwest Lab-Grown (GLG) rings to its existing line of Lab-grown finished pieces, Earth-mined loose diamonds and Earth-mined finished pieces. To supplement the GLG collection consisting of anniversary bands, stackable bands and three-stone rings, Jewelry Exchange also offered loose Lab-grown center stones to be purchased separately for customers looking to customize their jewelry, and was the first one in the industry to advertise Lab-grown diamond jewelry.
Size of Lab-grown diamonds continued to grow
33) WD Lab Grown Diamonds grew and sold a 6 Carat CVD round diamond and then broke its own record by growing a 9.04 Carat stone
February & May 2018
Maryland-based WD Lab Grown Diamond (Washington Diamonds) grew a 6 Carat Round Lab-grown diamond at its facility just outside Washington DC. The diamond was grown using CVD (Chemical Vapor Deposition) through its patented technology. However, in March 2018, the company broke its own record and grew a 9.04 Carat I color, VS2 clarity, IDEAL cut, Round Brilliant CVD diamond, the then world’s biggest gem-quality CVD diamond.
34) World’s largest pink Lab-grown diamonds unveiled by ALTR
ALTR Created Diamonds unveiled the largest created pink diamond, a GCAL certified fancy orange pink Ascher cut – ‘Pink Rose’, weighing 3.99 carat, with VS2 clarity, priced at USD 110,000, besides showcasing a selection of pink Lab-grown diamonds ranging from 1-3 carats.
However, according to a press note, later in July, Unique Lab Grown Diamond broke this record and presented the largest GIA graded square radiant shape 5.01 carat Fancy Intense Pinkish Orange Diamond, having SI1 clarity.
35) NDT’s record-setting 10 carat Lab-grown Yellow diamond debuted at September Hong Kong show
Russia-based New Diamond Technology (NDT) showcased its only officially known 10.06 carat, SI Clarity HPHT, octagonal step cut Fancy Intense Yellow diamond stone, unique in all aspects at September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair.
Technology & Applications
36) Lab-grown Diamonds adorned the Rolls-Royce Adamas Collection
Rolls-Royce, the luxury car manufacturer announced the launch of the Adamas Collection, featuring 40 ‘Wraiths’ and 30 ‘Dawns’ with diamond encrusted logos, the latest addition to the ‘Black Badge’ name, portraying a darker theme, higher performance and more rarity. The clock and infinity logo that denotes a Black Badge Rolls-Royce are studded with 88 black Lab-grown diamonds, sourced from San Francisco-based Ada Diamonds.
37) Nitrogen Vacancy (NV) centres in diamonds used to develop first continuous room-temperature maser
A group of researchers from Imperial College London built a maser (older sibling of laser) that can work continuously and on room-temperature, achieved using Lab-grown diamonds grown in nitrogen-rich environment. Apart from its application in radio astronomy and deep space communication, with the latest development, masers can now be used in varied fields from medical imaging to quantum computing apart from radio astronomy and deep space communication.
38) Researchers used Lab-grown diamonds to develop mid-air Drone charging capability
Flying drones, mostly used for commercial applications, over long ranges becomes difficult owing to limited power supply. However, researchers at Lake Diamonds, a spin-off company of Swiss-based EPFL, are attempting to solve this problem by developing a mid-air drone charging capability using Lab-grown diamonds.
39) Hoover & Strong and Polygon Launched myAuction for Polygon Retail Jewelers
Hoover & Strong and Polygon announced that the innovative myAuctionTM service which allows retailers to take in goods directly from customers, and include them in a professional diamond auction service to be available to all Polygon retail jewelers as part of their membership, accessible directly on the member platform. Complete transparency, with the ability to follow items and bids online in real-time; with customers having final say when it comes to accepting or rejecting the final bid are some of the features of myAuction.
Awards & Recognitions
40) Soha Diamond Co. in the top 100 of FedEx’s small business grant contest
Soha Diamonds Co., a 10th generation jeweler and gemologist from Madison participated in a contest by Fed-Ex and was announced as the top hundred finalists in the contest from 7,800 entries.
41) Mia Donna took the 100 fastest growing private company award yet again
Already been recognized for the FBI Citizen Agent’s award and the Business Journal’s Top 40 under 40 Executive’s award, Lab-Grown diamond industry front runner Mia Donna was recognized as one of the Portland Business Journal’s 100 Fastest-Growing Private Companies in Oregon for the 5th consecutive time.