Diamond mining companies are known for changing the rules but lab-grown diamonds are changing the game. No matter how tight their grip on the market is, they cannot resist the ever changing demand of today’s jewelry consumer.
Despite their (futile) efforts to discredit lab-grown diamonds, De Beers announced that they’re building a $94 million dollar growing facility and starting their own brand “Lightbox Jewelry” with $800 per carat linear price tag.
Why? To save their mined diamonds business, separate two markets and make some money in the process.
How? They claim that lab-grown diamonds are essentially all alike in terms of quality and therefore do not require grading and certification. Moreover, they say that growing is relatively cheap and can be done “in large batches in a few weeks over and over again”
Lightbox statements under closer look.
Lab-grown diamonds aren’t all the same: they differ in size, color clarity so their independent grading is crucial for keeping the customer fully informed. Big D IF diamonds are extremely rare and small J SI diamonds are quite common - just like mined diamonds. The better the quality of the diamond - the harder and more expensive it is to grow it.
Lightbox diamonds cost $800 per carat because they’re grown faster to save up on energy costs sacrificing the quality in the process. The finished diamond is full of dislocations (basically broken bonds between the atoms of carbon) which negatively affect its color, clarity and durability.
No wonder that they don’t want to fully disclose the color of their diamonds since it’s on the very end of near-colorless spectrum. Lightbox applies post-growth treatment such as irradiation and annealing to improve poor quality of its diamonds. Concealing this fact is not "easy, accessible and fun", it’s detrimental for building consumer's confidence in the product.
Don’t be misled by the beautiful photoshopped pictures (no doubt De Beers knows how to do it) - they’re dead stones with no fire in them. The secret lays in Color, Clarity and Weight of stones. All of Lightboxs stones are “Near Colorless” Color and VS clarity. And that's where the things are going. For example 1 ct Round G VS1 price is about $8400 for a mined diamond. But if we will go down to the J VS2 it will be only $5300 but still it will be “Near colorless” VS diamond. All Lightbox stones are uncertified, so you can't tell the exact color and clarity unless you will certify this stone by yourself in the laboratory.
Also, pricing goes up significantly, depending on the weight. So, $800 per carat might be a fair price for one type of stones it will be over priced for another.
The same thing is distributed on mountings. These stones are mounted in overpriced low-purity gold and silver to make up for the loss of profit from selling so much below the market. It's only fair to compare them to mined diamonds jewelry from Walmart,Macys, andCostco (in fact, it’s even cheaper there).
De Beers’ pockets are deep and their main objective is to save their main business from being damaged. However, the market share of lab-grown diamonds is growing rapidly and it doesn’t seem like De Beers succeeded.