De Beers’ announcement to start selling manmade diamonds (CNN Money: "De Beers admits defeat over man-made diamonds") is welcome by Diamond Foundry as a key next step for the industry at large to embrace the future.
It Takes an Industry to Transform a $85B Business
Diamond Foundry has long been on the forefront of the shift towards sustainably grown diamonds that avoid the vast environmental & social harm of mining.
After decades of discounting the reality and viability of aboveground diamonds, De Beers is saying today that consumer demand has shifted and manmade diamonds are here to stay; as well as that one should never fall in love with one's own propaganda.
Lab Diamonds Still a Nascent Industry
De Beers plans to produce 500,000 carats of lab diamonds by 2022, or approximately 1.5% of its mining output of 33 million carats per year. This puts lab diamonds into a rare "one percent" pocket relative to mined diamonds for the foreseeable future. (At least, De Beers' marketing investment in "Real & Rare" very much applies to manmade diamonds.)
Diamond Foundry is on track to produce 1 million carats a year (at a third of De Beers' power cost and using more advanced proprietary technology). Still, this is only another percent of the entire mining production.
In order for aboveground production to match 180 million carats of mining production, a capital expenditure of $10B is required for the kind of semiconductor grade equipment necessary to create diamond. No single company will do all of that.
Evolving Pricing Models
De Beers' industrial mining operation presently produces 33 million carats a year at a cost below $100 per carat and selling them at a price of $162 per carat. Relative to that, De Beers plans to sell lab diamonds for $200 per carat (or $800 per polished carat). In other words, De Beers believes lab diamonds carry a premium of 25% relative to mined diamonds.
In 2015, Diamond Foundry proposed a flat per-carat pricing to its initial customers similar to how now suggested by De Beers. But soon Diamond Foundry found that larger diamonds in the higher qualities are in much higher demand than others. A waitlist resulted, and there is still a large waitlist for the best stones. Of course, buyers jump on the best material while lower-quality stones move less fast. Quality based pricing tends to be a good way to reflect the nature of supply and demand, whether the diamond is produced aboveground or in industrially mined.
Press releases do not set the pricing in the multi-billion-dollar global market of diamonds; supply and demand does.
Note the pricing announced by De Beers is on par with where the market for smaller unbranded and uncertified natural diamonds has been for some time now. The smallest natural diamonds sell for as little as $65 per carat.
De Beers will initially only offer 1ct or smaller lab diamonds as used in non-bridal / designer jewelry.
While each lab diamond is unique just like any mined diamonds, De Beers is targeting non-bridal jewelry first, which is a market where, unlike for engagement rings, individual certification has not been required and not been industry practice.
Jewelry designers around the world will now enjoy knowing that their past history with De Beers is not a conflict to using lab diamonds, as many have been desiring. Designers and producers can now openly meet and communicate rather than under the cloak of secrecy.
Recent consumer surveys indicate that 70% of all consumers are ready to consider a manmade diamond for their life's most pivotal moments including engagement. Companies like Diamond Foundry, MiaDonna, Brilliant Earth, etc. are seeing this every day: consumers love aboveground diamonds.
Shoppers for engagement rings and other diamond jewelry care about individually certified diamonds because each diamond, whether manmade or mined, is unique and the value is high. Certification is a routine practice in the diamond industry and easily and inexpensively added to any diamond by sending it to a grading lab.
De Beers is not yet making its lab diamonds available for the bridal market, allowing producers like Diamond Foundry to serve this most profitable part of the jewelry industry.
As America’s #1 diamond producer, Diamond Foundry has long focused on setting the standard for diamonds in the modern world. Diamond Foundry is producing very high quality diamonds -- graded by GIA gemologists to be among the best 1% of all diamonds in the world -- and is presently also the only producer in the world which has achieved a certification for a zero carbon footprint.
Each diamond created by Diamond Foundry is certified by a GIA gemologist as well as GCAL.
Diamond Foundry offers an industry-first Forever 100% Value Guarantee which protects a diamond's value more than any other diamond on that market, whether mined or aboveground.
We believe that as "technology eats mining," consumers will benefit in ever more ways.