De Beers plans to sell lab-grown diamonds at a cheap rate
De Beers plans to launch the lab-grown diamonds under their new brand, Lightbox, with plans to charge $200 for a quarter-carat, $400 for a half and $800 for a full carat.
BERKSHIRE, UK — British diamond maker De Beers said on Tuesday that they are going to sell diamonds that are "grown" in laboratories.
The lab-grown diamonds are made from a carbon seed placed in a microwave chamber and superheated into a glowing plasma ball.
This process then creates particles that can crystallize into diamonds in weeks.
Unlike imitation gems such as cubic zirconia, lab-grown diamonds have the same physical characteristics and chemical makeup as mined stones.
Despite being able to produce these diamonds in three weeks, De Beers has refused to use lab-grown diamonds to compete with mined stones, as they would not grade them in the traditional way. De Beers's CEO Bruce Cleaver said that these diamonds are not special, they are all the same.
De Beers plans to launch the lab-grown diamonds under their new brand, Lightbox, with plans to charge $200 for a quarter-carat, $400 for a half and $800 for a carat.
Cited by Bloomberg, analyst Paul Zimnisky says man-made gems currently make up a small part of the diamond market, but demand is increasing. Global diamond production was about 142 million carats last year. Bonas & Co reports that compares with lab production of less than 4.2 million carats.
De Beers's shift to lab-diamond jewelry comes at a sensitive time, as the British diamond makers will soon negotiate a new term with with Botswana, the source of three-quarters of De Beers's diamonds.
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