Natural and laboratory-grown diamonds: Rules for engagement
July 2, 2020
The relationship between the natural diamond industry and its younger counterpart, the laboratory-grown diamond sector, has been strained virtually from the very first day that the manufactured stones first began appearing in the jewellery marketplace, almost 20 years ago. Much concern was voiced about consumer confidence, questioning whether the general public would be able to differentiate between diamonds produced through natural process over millions of years, and those created in an industrial setting over the course of several hours or days.
An open question that remains is whether the natural diamonds and laboratory diamonds will necessarily compete for similar market share, or whether, as many hope, the new product category will expand the size of the market, by appealing to new customers that otherwise may not have purchased diamond-set jewellery at all.
Ultimately the answer to the question will be decided by consumers, and most agree that in order that they be able to make a reasoned purchasing decision, it is critical that they understand exactly what they are buying. But here there has been disagreement between the sectors about how such information can be communicated in a clear, fair and impartial manner.
The webinar investigated whether common and agreed-to frames of reference can be created by the natural and laboratory-grown diamond industries. It featured leading representatives from both the natural and laboratory-grown diamond sectors.
Among the participants were Wesley Hunt, Director of Programme Management, Consumer & Brands at the De Beers Group, who also is Chair of CIBJO’s Laboratory-Grown Diamond Committee. He is joined by Sally Morrison, Director of PR for Natural Diamonds at De Beers Group, who previously was Chief Marketing Officer for Lightbox Jewelry, De Beers laboratory-grown diamond jewellery brand; Richard Garard, Secretary General of the International Grown Diamond Association, which brings under its umbrella many of world’s leading producers and marketers of laboratory-grown diamonds; and Andrey Zharkov, the founder of Ultra C, a laboratory-grown diamond company, who previously served as president of the Russian diamond mining company ALROSA and deputy head of Gokhran, the Russian Ministry of Finance’s repository of precious metals and gems.
The webinar was co-moderated by Edward Johnson and Steven Benson, and Gaetano Cavalieri, CIBJO President, welcomed the participants.