Lab-grown diamonds emerging as an investment avenue?

Lab-grown diamond
[Image Courtesy: Quartz]

Lab-grown diamonds are not new but their adoption among the consumers and retailers both has only risen significantly over the last few years. This has been primarily fueled by two major reasons. One, growing demand from new age consumers especially millennials owing to the unique appeal of Lab-grown diamonds being eco-friendly, conflict-free, socially conscious, ethical and affordable, qualities that mined diamonds unfortunately fail to provide. Second, technological progress of Lab-grown diamond production and numerous entrants in the arena.

Over the years, developments in HPHT and CVD technologies have enabled to grow diamonds that are physically, chemically, thermally and in all aspects exactly the same as mined diamonds. Without sophisticated detection equipment, it is impossible to distinguish between a Lab-grown diamond and mined diamond by even some seasoned professionals. Moreover, new diamond producers are continually entering the field. California based Lab-grown diamond startup – Diamond Foundry, which started last year is growing 150 – 300 diamond batch every two week and produces around 1,000 carats a month. The company sells everything they produce within 2 weeks.

Las Vegas based Centaurus Diamond Technologies patented a technology that enables high volume production of Lab-grown diamonds. Typically, diamonds are associated with gems and jewelry but non-gem uses of diamonds beat gem uses hands down. Diamonds are now being considered to be used virtually everywhere, from industrial and scientific purposes to even consumer products like music system speakers and smartphones. The potential and possibilities of Lab-grown diamonds are endless. Foreseeing this, people have started to invest in Lab-grown diamonds.

Diamond Foundry raised USD 100 million last year from 12 Silicon Valley billionaires including Twitter founder Evan Williams. Besides, Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio has also invested in the venture. Diamond Foundry is planning facility expansion in San Francisco and London.

In a year’s time, Centaurus’ shares rose a phenomenal 330%. Goldman Research analyst Robert Goldman predicts that the company is ready to make ‘waves in the market’.

Though, Diamond Foundry and Centaurus are not alone. Companies like New Diamond Technologies, Pure Grown Diamonds, Scio Diamonds et al are not only already providing for the rising demand of Lab-grown diamonds but also leading the wave. Hailed as game-changer, Lab-grown diamonds are set to disrupt the multi-billion dollar global diamond industry. Retailers like Brilliant Earth sell both ethically sourced mined diamonds and Lab-grown diamonds in their showcases, quoting millennials’ concerns regarding social and environmental impact.

Unlike traditional investment avenues like real estate, equities, financial products or even precious metals like gold, diamonds have never really emerged as an investment product despite diamond exchanges, diamond traded funds etc. being introduced, chiefly because diamonds are not fungible. Though this largely remains true for Lab-grown diamonds too, considering the ever-increasing demand, technological progress and lab-grown diamond players’ ability to disrupt the industry, an interesting question that arises is whether Lab-grown diamonds are emerging as an investment avenue?

 

3 COMMENTS

  1. I regularly hear the hypothesis that Lab-growns are environmentally friendly (and off course they have less of a impact on the environment). Would love to know how the chemicals used to grow them effects the environment and in particular the ozone. Would you care to comment on this please?

  2. As far as we understand, growing Lab-grown diamonds involves a diamond seed (carbon) and gases like methane, hydrogen where methane is split and carbon is consumed in the growth of diamond. We are no expert in ozone depletion but with some research we understand that hydrocarbons when chemically combined with chlorine form ozone depleting substances. From our understanding there is no chlorine used in diamond growth and therefore there should not be any impact on the ozone layer (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ozone_depletion). The only impact on ozone could be possibly indirectly through electricity usage. There is a study done by Frost & Sullivan on environmental impact of Lab-grown diamonds. You can view that report here (http://ww2.frost.com/news/press-releases/grown-diamonds-offer-eco-friendly-diamond-alternate-finds-frost-sullivan/) and its gist here (http://betterdiamondinitiative.org/lab-grown-diamonds-represent-long-term-environmental-solution-frost-sullivan/)

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