World's largest diamond miner De Beers to sell synthetic stones

Synthetic diamonds are chemically identical to the natural kind which are forged over millions of years in “kimberlite” pipes in the earth’s crust

Synthetic diamonds are chemically identical to the natural kind which are forged over millions of years in “kimberlite” pipes in the earth’s crust

In a statement about Lightbox Jewelry, De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver positioned these diamonds as an affordable alternative - one that is not "forever" but that is ideal for "right now", he said.

De Beers, the biggest diamond dealer in the jewelry box, is launching a new company called Lightbox Jewelry to sell lab-grown diamonds.

Lab-grown diamonds have a very similar appearance to mined diamonds.

The technology to insert the mark has been developed by Opsydia, an offshoot of Oxford University, and the diamonds will be sold by a new company called Lightbox Jewelry beginning in September in the United States, the world's leading diamond jewelry market where demand hit an all-time high a year ago.

Lieberherr added the association was confident that De Beers' move would benefit consumers and bring much needed clarity to the synthetic diamonds market.

There's been increasing concern in the industry that expensive diamonds aren't appealing to millennial consumers, who are often more likely to spend on high-priced electronics or vacations.

"Given we are the lowest-cost producer, we can make a good business out of this", Cleaver said.

The shift towards selling man-made diamonds is a historic one, as the company has vowed for years to never sell diamonds that were made in labs.

The above process makes particles that can ultimately crystallise into diamonds in 10 weeks.

De Beers, the 130-year-old diamond company founded by Cecil Rhodes with funding from the Rothschild family, is to start selling diamonds "grown" in a laboratory near Ascot, Berkshire.

Unlike imitation gems such as cubic zirconia, diamonds grown in labs have the same physical characteristics and chemical makeup as mined stones. The technology is so advanced that experts need a machine to distinguish between lab-made and mined gems. De Beers' solution was to build a monopoly that controlled the world's supply in one form or another from 1888 until 2006, when it settled an antitrust suit brought by the European Union by agreeing to stop buying diamonds from its largest rival, Russia's Alrosa PJSC.

De Beers' parent, Anglo American, was hit by the commodity price crash of 2015-16, but has recovered strongly and is leading the sector this year with a 13 per cent rise in its share price.

Its synthetic diamonds will retail from $200 for a quarter-carat stone up to $800 for a carat, and will come in pink and blue as well as the more traditional white. At present, they're a tiny portion of the total - somewhere between four and five million carats, according to Paul Zimnisky, a New York-based analyst of the market, versus about 73 million carats of gem-quality diamonds dug from the ground in 2017. De Beers new lab gems will sell for around $800 a carat.

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