De Beers, the biggest diamond dealer in the jewelry box, is launching a new company called Lightbox Jewelry to sell lab-grown diamonds.
These unnatural gems — which cost 90% less than their billion-year-old organic brethren — are a desperate De Beers attempt to retain diamond dominance in spite of shifting consumer preferences.
The market for mined diamonds has lost its sparkle
Modern bling-buyers are concerned about mining in vulnerable areas (and less interested in luxury goods) — driving the market for rough natural diamonds down 40% since 2011.
Positioned as an ethical alternative to socially and environmentally damaging mining operations, lab-grown diamond startups have snatched up some of the unstable $100B market. In fact, analysts predict that lab-grown sales may outshine their natural peers as early as 2020.
If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em
De Beers, whose price-fixing diamond monopoly was busted in 2000, initially tried to persuade buyers not to purchase lab-grown diamonds — going as far as marketing an “inexpensive” $4.5k ultraviolet detector to separate real stones from synthetic ones.
But, when De Beers realized its synthetic competitors weren’t going anywhere, the devious diamond-sellers flipped their strategy on its head — by joining the lab-grown diamond revolution and selling their “lower-quality” gems at rock bottom prices to undercut the competition by 75%.
‘De Beers is forever’™
Now, De Beers hopes that hyping up real diamonds and trash talking lab-grown diamonds (while simultaneously producing sh*t tons of them) will preserve the company’s 130-year-old good name.
Even as De Beers shells out $94m to build a facility for lab-grown diamonds in Oregon, the company (desperate to keep the value of “real” diamonds high) still insists that lab-grown gems aren’t as cool as real rocks.
“Lab grown are not special, they’re not real, they’re not unique,” De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver said yesterday, claiming lab-grown and natural diamonds are in totally different categories.
But, the 2 are still indistinguishable to anyone but mineralogists using advanced microscopes — so if you ask us, what we don’t know won’t hurt us (or our wallets).