Professional Jeweller caught up with Thierry Silber, founder of Madestones, to discuss the benefits of lab-grown diamonds, trends in the industry, and his prediction for the future.
What, in your view, are the benefits of lab-grown diamonds?
Lab-grown diamonds offer many advantages because they represent an affordable, conscientious and modern choice. They meet the needs of:
- The budget conscious consumer who is delighted to discover that the price of colourless lab-grown diamonds is substantially less than a mined diamond – typically to 40-50%.
Coloured diamonds become even more interesting as they sell at a fraction of the price of their natural counterpart. These diamonds are popular among the consumer who is seeking for self-expression and individuality.
- The environment-conscious consumer appreciates the sustainability aspect of lab-grown diamonds. They are looking for a choice that doesn’t have a negative impact on the environment. They want to be reassured on the diamond origin and avoid socially irresponsible practices.
- The younger, Millennial consumer that loves products that are technologically forward and have a story to tell. Lab-grown diamonds are the perfect marriage between modern technology and social values.
What trends are you noticing within lab-grown diamonds?
We are delighted to see that the consumer interest is rapidly growing – consumers recognize they now have a second choice in diamonds. It has always been my opinion that it would not be the industry who would decide over the success or failure of lab-grown diamonds but the consumer, and that is happening right now. Additionally we see a growing demand in the diamond and jewellery industry but also from the fashion and the corporate gift industries.
When did you notice a spike in demand and why do you think its occurring now?
Last year will probably be remembered in the history of lab-grown diamonds as the year of the breakthrough. In 2017 lab-grown diamonds captured 3% market share of the global diamond business. The fast-growing consumer awareness and acceptance of this new choice in diamond is probably a key reason. Still, many retailers now also realize the major growth opportunities lab-grown diamonds provide to them. They are more open to talk about it, which is very good. I believe that the retailer is expected to give expert advice and guide the consumer in finding the diamond that fits his or her needs, be it natural or lab-grown. Giving proper information with full transparency and disclosure on both products will be crucial to help the consumer make the right decision. Let the consumer decide. Ultimately, the retailer will always be the winner because the consumer will choose one of both diamond options.
What does the future looks like for lab-grown diamonds?
As mentioned before, in 2017 lab-grown diamonds captured 3% market share of the global diamond business. According to Morgan Stanley this percentage is estimated to reach 7% by 2020. The future looks extremely bright I would say.
What would you advice retailers and brands say to consumers who are concerned lab-grown diamonds are ‘not as real’ as diamonds because they haven’t been naturally cultivated?
Let me first revert the question and ask you: Is ice cultivated in your freezer at home and ice that is naturally formed on the lake at very cold temperature any different?
At Madestones we believe that the point of origin of a diamond is not the most important when diamonds or jewelry are bought or offered. Everything starts with the beauty of the diamond. 70% of the sale will be done when consumers will see that both diamonds are equally beautiful and when it is impossible to see any difference with the naked eye or even with the loupe. And importantly, diamonds get their true value from the romance and symbolism that people attach to the moment or the occasion for which they are offered.
Is there anything else you would like to add about lab-grown diamonds?
I believe that lab-grown diamonds have a place in every jewellery store. They are a legitimate product. Madestones views its presence in the diamond market as a natural progression rather than a disruptive force. There is no reason why all other industries are embracing technology to innovate for the benefit of their industry and this should not be the case in the diamond and jewellery industry. We see lab-grown diamonds not as a substitute for mined diamonds but as an innovative choice in diamonds. A choice the consumer deserves when making a diamond jewelry purchase. Tom Moses the executive vice president of GIA said very rightly: “Laboratory grown diamonds are a fact of life and they are here to stay”. I would add that it is every retailer’s choice to jump on board of the train or stay on the platform and wave while the train moves towards future destinations.