Just a few short months ago De Beers announced with great fanfare, that they are officially entering the synthetic diamond market.
To be perfectly honest, I still have a hard time understanding this decision. The diamond industry has been suffering for over ten years now, with drastically decreasing prices and profitability. Can the industry survive this radical move?
GIA Graduate Gemologist, Shmulik Polnauer
The moment De Beers associated themselves with lab-grown "diamonds," they are "selling" their very own legacy for small change.
This move will cause people to think that lab-grown diamonds are similar to real diamonds, but cheaper. Some may think this is genius. I think it's destructive.
Not only is De Beers devaluing their own business and the diamond industry as a whole, but the ripple effects are endless.
This move not only cannibalizes their own brand, but also opens itself up to a whole feast of problems.
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With lab-grown diamonds entering the market there is real potential for them to get "mixed up" with real, natural diamonds, and will thereby damage the diamond brand even further. Additionally, there are currently no official regulations demanding that these items be clearly labeled as "synthetic" or "lab-grown," and this alone is cause for concern.
Let me ask you all a question. Did Leonardo DiCaprio propose to his girlfriend with a lab gown diamond from his own factory? If lab grown diamonds are "the same", why wouldn't he? For that matter, do you think that any high profile celebrity or member of the royal family would consider anything other than a natural, authentic stone? No? Didn't think so.
Building a solid brand is a fragile construction. One cannot add or take away from it without repercussion. Aligning a luxury brand with a cheap substitute may raise the acceptance of the lower-end product, but will surely damage its image in the long run.
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Some commentators are throwing praise at De Beers, calling this a "genius marketing move," similar to moving their sight distribution center to Botswana. I can only imagine that it was not a "voluntary" move and will hurt the De Beers brand in the end, as it continues to connect the miners directly with the sight holders.
It's just a matter of time before they tell De Beers to get out. There is just no need for the middle man.
After all, one cannot sit on the dinner table with everyone.
Sometimes you have to be selective.