Why Mined Diamond industry is so afraid of Lab Grown Diamonds

Lab Grown Diamonds
[Image Courtesy: KNKX, MICHAEL RUBENSTEIN FOR NPR]

Rising acceptance and up to 20 percent growth in 2019 of Lab Grown Diamonds sector clearly reflects a consumer mandate for an alternative product, better diamonds. Jewelry retailers worldwide have started selling Lab-grown diamonds side-by-side mined stones. Started through James Allen, jewelry retailer major Signet Jewelers is now selling Lab-grown diamonds through all its brands – Jared, Zales, James Allen and Kay – in stores and online. However, instead of embracing LGD, mined diamond industry is being so afraid that it is using all its dominance to impede Lab-grown diamonds.

 

De Beers issues hypocritical guidelines

Despite having itself forayed into LGD sector through Lightbox, De Beers issued guidelines to its sightholders that customers who exclusively deal in mined diamonds will be allowed to use the sightholder license and its logo, and not its customers who deal both in mined as well as Lab-grown diamonds. While segregating and fully disclosing the two diamond variants is crucial, De Beers’ guidelines ‘recommends setting up distinct and independent businesses for any lab-grown diamond activities, with separate systems, processes and workforces’. This is one of the biggest hypocrisies one comes across.

While giants like De Beers have the resources to set up different entities, how can they expect from smaller businesses to establish completely different entity with distinct workforce!! Besides, even if there are some mid-size businesses who can do this, creating a new brand is not easy. Over the years, De Beers itself has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in marketing and has resources to spend again to do branding and marketing for Lightbox. But it is preposterous to expect the same from smaller jewelers.

Moreover, even if there are different boards, long-term strategies, planning and resource optimization for De Beers and Lightbox would be integrated at the Anglo American headquarters. Also, till the new Gresham facility in Oregon, US becomes operational, Lightbox diamonds are manufactured at De Beers owned Element Six labs in London, where LGD were exclusively produced only for industrial applications. It is to be noted that Element Six is directly owned by De Beers group. So much for ‘distinct and independent businesses… with separate systems, processes and workforces’!!

De Beers actions are at best bigotry towards its own business partners, and comes at a time when the industry is reeling under slowdown. Instead of holding their hands, De Beers is holding their necks. By trying to restrict others and itself moving fast, De Beers’ actions go on to prove that it is aiming to regain its lost monopolistic dominance – only this time in the Lab-grown diamond arena.

 

DPA misleads consumers

Richard Garard of The International Grown Diamond Association (IGDA) is very disappointed with the overall ‘Anti-Lab Grown Diamond agenda’. He highlights a case in point of Diamond Producers Association’s (DPA) recent videos where man ‘A’ and man ‘B’ representing mined diamonds and Lab-grown diamonds respectively are shown and the videos end implying that man ‘B’ is fake and a not a real diamond. This despite the FTC’s (Federal Trade Commission) ruling that Lab-grown diamonds are indeed diamonds, and cautioning mined diamond players not to use terms like ‘fake’ when mentioning Lab-grown diamonds. A gross violation of FTC’s ruling.

Another deception by the mined diamond industry is the story of diamonds being formed over billions of years under earth!!

As Tom Chatham of Chatham Created Gems explains, it does not take “billions of years to form or crystallize in the earth and nothing scientific backs up this statement… This is a growing trend of switching the AGE of diamonds found on the surface of the earth, which is likely in the billions of years, to the more romantic notion that it takes “billions of years to grow” in the ground.”

Such deceiving content and videos by companies and organizations like DPA only misleads consumers.

 

While Lab Grown Council is struggling to set up bourse in Surat

According to media reports, The Lab-Grown Diamond and Jewellery Promotion Council (LGDJPC) is trying to convince promoters of Surat Diamond Bourse (SDB) to set up a Lab-grown diamond bourse in Surat. Likely to be completed by 2020, SDB is coming up on 6.7 million square foot of land at Diamond Research and Mercantile City (DREAM) at Khajod and will comprise of 15 nine-storey towers that can accommodate more than 4,200 offices.

Few months back, there were stories that Bharat Diamond Bourse (BDB) may lift the ban on Lab-grown diamonds from its floor.

It’s president Anoop Mehta had said “We have received representations from a number of our members on (allowing the trade of) synthetic diamonds and we will discuss this at the board level before convening an EGM to allow the same in the next five to six months”.

However, after a panic struck among mined diamond traders on this news, BDB made a U-turn and warned individuals ‘spreading rumours’ of legal action.

Shashikant Shah – Chairman, LGDJPC said “You can’t do injustice to lab-grown diamond industry by not allowing its members trading floor at BDB. We are trying to convince members of SDB to allow trading of lab-grown diamonds. We are hopeful that its members will not turn down our request.”

However, Mathur Savani of a SDB told a media house “We are yet to receive any proposal from the lab-grown diamond council. The SDB’s decision on allowing trading in lab-grown diamonds will be dependent on committee members’ view. No doubt lab-grown diamond business is increasing, but we don’t want natural diamond business to be affected in any way.”

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A manifestation of great advance in technology and science, Lab-grown diamonds offer rather complementary product category to mined diamonds. However, for unfathomable reasons, mined diamond segment just don’t get it. As Dror Yehuda – President, Yehuda Diamond Company says “Is the Ostrich Finally Lifting its Head Out of the Sand?”. Well, doesn’t quite seem so yet. In the face of great diamond distress, he however also makes an interesting point “As far as I am aware, to date, no jewelers who adopted lab-grown diamonds have closed their doors.”

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