De Beers – From vowing to never sell Lab-grown diamonds to launching Lightbox

Infographic of De Beers - Lightbox Timeline: How De Beers pivoted from vowing never to sell Lab-grown diamonds to entering the Lab-grown diamond jewelry business, through its line - Lightbox

[Image Courtesy: The Hollywood Reporter, De Beers, Lightbox]

Couple of months back, De Beers launched its first ever Lab-grown diamond jewelry line – Lightbox. It was both a surprise to some and a well-thought-out step to some. BDI had predicted a couple of years back that diamond miners would eventually shift to Lab-grown diamonds. While, De Beers is going to start selling Lab-grown diamonds from September 2018, they have in the past stated otherwise.


De Beers said it would never sell Lab-grown diamonds

De Beers, one of the largest diamond miners in the world, monopolized the market with its price-fixing strategy for long and had strongly believed that only mined diamonds are real and rare and can be given at a life’s greatest moment.

In October 2015, De Beers told Bloomberg that Element 6’s operation focuses on creating technology to detect synthetic diamonds. Simon Lawson, Head of Technologies UK said that they were focused on detection. They came up with an ‘inexpensive’ USD 4,500 ultraviolet detector to separate real and synthetic stones.

Lawson had said, “De Beers’ focus is on natural diamonds. We would not do anything that would cannibalize that industry.”

Moreover, in an email to Racked, De Beers had denied that it will ever sell Lab-grown diamonds for use of jewelry anytime in future.


3 years later, De Beers launches Lab-grown diamond jewelry line

De Beers recently announced the launch of Lightbox – their Lab-grown diamond jewelry line. While De Beers have strategically marketed mined diamonds as rare and something that deserves to be given only at life’s greatest moments, there are various environmental and ethical issues that circle mined diamonds.

With the growing demand of Lab-grown diamonds among millennials, De Beers is all set to enter the market with a lower price point, crossing the current Lab-grown diamond market rates.

This move came as no surprise for a lot of analysts, as it was predicted that diamond miners would eventually enter the Lab-grown diamond market.

In an article by Racked – “A Lab-grown Diamond is Forever” published in 2016, Chaim Even-Zohar, a diamond industry analyst had said, “De Beers’ long-awaited participation in the gem-quality synthetics market can no longer be far off.”

De Beers will be selling these Lab-grown diamonds at very cheap rates and without any grading certificate.


Lightbox Timeline
BDI 2018 Copyright – Infographic of De Beers – Lightbox Timeline


Thus, from fighting Lab-grown diamonds, De Beers has pivoted to enter Lab-grown diamond gem market. De Beers has started work on its USD 94 Mn, 60,000 Sq. Ft. Lightbox factory in US, which will start producing 500,000 rough carats at full capacity by 2020.

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