What is a diamond? A diamond is a complicated configuration of carbon atoms, the main ingredient of biology and life on Earth. A diamond is an expression of nature’s creativity, a way of showing us that everything it creates is unique and special. Natural diamonds were produced in the Earth’s mantle approximately 150Km under the surface over 1.5 billion years ago. What you are holding is a piece of history predating the dinosaurs. We know the properties of the diamond that make its mystique– a rare mineral, the strongest and hardest natural product on earth, a great semi-conductor, a gemstone which can refract light in a sparkle and much more. Combined with marketing, this rare and beautiful product of Mother Nature has been longed by all and been a symbol of love and togetherness.
Humans have constantly tried to improve their quality of living by innovating. And lo and behold, over the last few decades they have successfully devised a way to create the most valuable and hardest substance, the diamond, manually. In a matter of 3 weeks, we have replicated Earth’s laborious work of over a billion years in the laboratory. This scientific success means that in 2018 the gem-quality, lab-grown polished diamond capacity was estimated at 2 million carats (majority melee). Still, provided the growth rate of the segment stays the same, the market could grow to between 10 million and 17 million carats by 2030 according to Bain & Co*. In dollar value, Paul Zimnisky estimated the 2018 lab-grown diamond jewelry market at $1.9 billion dollars and forecasted its growth at 22% annually to $5.2 billion by 2023 and to $14.9 billion by 2035 (with a longer-term growth rate of about 9%)**.
But in the context of diamonds, what does this mean? What are the benefits of lab-grown diamonds? We are gifting diamonds to our loved ones to cherish life’s memorable moments, to show how invaluable and rare our relationship and love is since the diamond is so rare and expensive. What is the intrinsic value a diamond possesses today? I believe it is to do with an expression of something invaluable to us. By creating diamonds in abundance, will the gemstone still be valuable? Will they still be able to replicate the emotions of our moments and love like before?
Yes and no would be my answer. On the one hand, we have an emotional quotient and ego within us. This drives us to crave the real Picasso painting, rather than a print out of the same that could arguably invoke similar emotions. On the other hand, there are billions or perhaps over 90% of the world’s population who has never owned a diamond and who would aspire to have one. The lab-grown diamond industry will increase access to this precious gemstone which we should embrace.
Aspiration and desire are attributes that make us innovate and evolve. I believe diamonds are a metaphor for the same. As we are moving to a world where we want to have it all, with AI and robots to replace our thinking and hard labor, we must realize that evolution and change are the only constant. Therefore, with lab-grown diamonds coming into the market place we must realize and embrace their potential and not call it a fake and denounce it. Both are here to stay.
There will be a new balance of pricing and cost that is going to create turmoil and unpredictability. However, there is a lot of scope to go back to the drawing board to see where we are positioned in the minds of the consumers and how we can innovate and preserve the love for our product. Lab-grown diamonds are a good shake to a sleepy industry, who have relied on the monopoly of De Beers, Russia, and the hand-counted miners who have kept the industry from exploding and expanding boundaries by looking at their own profits. With large B2C Jewellery brands and even renowned De Beers Sightholders openly announcing their activities in the lab-grown sphere, we must take ownership of the industry and focus on the consumer and their intrinsic emotional needs.
Branding is crucial. Diamond in itself is one of the world’s most powerful brands. We must leverage on this brand ‘Diamond’ and create experiences to enchant the consumer. It is essential that brands differentiate between the two since both natural and lab-grown diamonds are going to satisfy different customer tastes and needs.
We have a huge opportunity for our industry that has been stuck for the last few decades with little growth. Now we have a chance and the product availability to increase the market and touch more consumers globally. Let us work together to promote both Natural and Lab-grown diamonds to the world and evoke the mystery of diamonds- the world’s hardest and most beautiful stone which shows the strength and beauty of our love and relationships.
Director, Bluestar Diamonds
An A-Star Alliance
*Bain & Company, The Global Diamond Industry 2018 https://www.awdc.be/en/latest-awdc-bain-report-published-global-diamond-industry-2018
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