💠 Pandora is all in on lab-grown diamonds


May 10, 2021

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The Hustle

Dogecoin traders who were anticipating a big price bump due to Elon Musk’s appearance on “Saturday Night Live” ended up disappointed this weekend.

The meme coin tumbled by ~40% after the Tesla CEO called it a “hustle” during a skit.

The big idea
diamond

The world’s largest jeweler is ditching diamonds-au-naturel

If diamonds are forever, then are lab grown diamonds for-everyone?

Pandora, the world’s largest jeweler, certainly thinks so. The company recently announced plans to drop mined, natural diamonds from its stores.

Instead, it will stock only lab-grown diamonds.

Millennials kill another time-honored tradition

Lab-grown diamonds (LGD) are made in pressurized ovens with the same clarity and brilliance as their earth-made counterparts for ⅓ of the cost.

Perhaps more importantly for industry, LGDs can be produced in weeks instead of the billions of years a natural diamond takes to form.

In recent years, spending habits have shifted away from natural diamonds. Many younger buyers are now opting for lab-grown diamonds, which they say are more affordable, environmentally friendly, and ethical.

Diamond sourcing is notoriously shady…

… Leonardo DiCaprio did a whole film on it.

Though natural diamonds enjoy a $64B retail market, the industry has been lambasted for its practices, which include exploiting workers, children, and local communities.

For its part, Pandora has established policies on sourcing and — per a Human Rights Watch report — it scored “strong” for responsible sourcing (just 1 notch below the top, “excellent”).

Competitors like Bulgari, Cartier, Signet Jewelers, and Harry Winston all rank worse.

Smart move?

Pandora is positioning itself as a forward thinker in the jeweler space by opting to remove mining from the equation.

Currently, the lab-grown diamonds are produced using 60% renewable energy; the company hopes to bump that number to 100% by 2025.

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  • On pause: A slate of digital media firms (e.g., Bustle, Buzzfeed, Vice, Vox) aimed to go public via SPACs this year. Buzzfeed may be the only one to pull it off.
  • Diaper inflation: Texas’ winter storm in February reduced supplies of acrylic acid… which is the liquid that makes diapers absorbent. With supplies still strained, diaper prices are up.
By The Numbers
zeros and ones

Numbers everywhere (Source: Science & Society Library / Getty Images)

Digits: Steel prices, iPhone apps, oil pipelines, SNL ads, and more

Note: In this new section, we’ll break down the week’s headlines by-the-numbers. (Like or dislike this new format? Let us know here).

  • 1,035: Dollar General stores set to open in the US in 2021, ~⅓ of the total 3,597 large retail chain openings announced so far.
  • $1.5k: The per-ton price of hot-rolled coil steel, 3x the 20-year average. (AKA not a steal).
  • 5%: US iPhone users that have given apps permission to gather tracking data following the new iOS privacy update. Translation: 95% have not.
  • 4: Tesla competitors (i.e., Audi, Ford, Volkswagen, and Lucid) that aired ads during Elon Musk’s “Saturday Night Live” appearance to show off their EV alternatives.
  • 100: The number of pages from a leaked Walmart memo that highlight the company’s tenuous position in the grocery space as other retailers (e.g., Target, Albertsons) and new digital players (Instacart) encroach.
  • 1,127: Shipping containers that have fallen into the sea so far in 2021, following an unfortunate 7-year high of 3.1k in 2020.
  • 5.5k miles: The length of the Colonial Pipeline — hit with a cyber attack Friday — that delivers ~50% of the East Coast’s gas. Talk about putting all of our eggs in 1 basket.
  • $16.7m: The potential price tag for Leonardo da Vinci’s “Head of a Bear” drawing. (Must be some head).
  • +70%: The coming increase in pool chlorine prices this summer after a fire took out 1 of 3 major suppliers last year.
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Sports Tech
GRIND team

Thomas Fields pitching on “Shark Tank” (Source: Instagram / @grindbasketball_)

Meet GRIND Basketball, the world’s most affordable basketball shooting machine

As far as founding stories go, GRIND Basketball fits within the “solve my own problem” camp.

The startup’s founder, Thomas Fields, was a high school basketball star. While recovering from an ACL injury, he tried to shoot practice shots in the school gym. But his coach never set up a shooting machine.

“I asked myself ‘why can’t I bring my own machine?’” Fields told The Hustle. “Not long after, I started down the road to create the most affordable and portable basketball machine.”

Basketball shooting machines are a staple for aspiring players

However, the top sellers in the space are more B2B-focused businesses with schools and professional sports organizations as key clients.

What this means is that the machines are typically too big and expensive for the average consumer:

  • Dr. Dish starts at ~$3k and weighs ~300 lbs.
  • Shoot-A-Way can cost $6k+ weighs 450 lbs.

Fields is a self-taught mechanical engineer and spent $25k to launch an early version of the product. Today, it’s priced at ~$1.6k, weighs only 100 lbs., and can fit in a duffle bag.

GRIND Basketball was officially launched last March

The 1st batch was 150 units and clients included the San Antonio Spurs and former NBA player Gilbert Arenas.

But the product could enjoy a much broader market: There are ~1m high school players in America, and over 50% of sports parents spend up to $500 a month on their children’s sports. Coaches are another attractive client base. Per GRIND, there are 70k registered youth basketball coaches in America.

Building an app to accompany the machine

“We want to be the Peloton of basketball,” says Brian Blum, a Trends member and GRIND’s head of growth. “One product we have in the pipeline: an app that tracks your shooting and offers virtual lessons.”

One big step towards that goal happened over the weekend when Fields appeared on the TV show “Shark Tank.” Billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran agreed to a deal, though terms are still being finalized.

For now, the GRIND team is busy filling the next batch of orders and — so far — total sales are nearing $1m.

In many ways, the journey is only starting. And this time, GRIND won’t have to wait for anyone to set up the machine.

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Meme of the day

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diamond meme

Source: We Know Memes / Sarines

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