De Beers to start marketing lab-grown diamonds

De Beers, the world’s largest producer of rough diamonds by value, is looking at entering the synthetic diamond jewelry business after years of resisting the artificial diamonds on fears that it could undercut some of its business.

Beginning in September, De Beers, which is owned by Anglo American, will launch a company, called Lightbox Jewelry that will market a brand of laboratory-grown diamond jewelry to retail consumers.

According to a statement from the company, Lightbox Jewelry will offer consumers high-quality, fashion jewelry designs at lower prices than existing lab-grown diamond offerings.

Lightbox lab-grown diamonds will retail from $200 for a quarter-carat stone to $800 for a one-carat stone. White, pink and blue “diamonds” will be available.

For identification, any Lightbox lab-grown diamonds of 0.2 carats or above will carry a permanent Lightbox logo inside the stone.

For years, De Beers has called the synthetic diamond business one of the major risks to the company.

“Our extensive research tells us this is how consumers regard lab-grown diamonds – as a fun, pretty product that shouldn’t cost that much – so we see an opportunity here that’s been missed by lab-grown diamond producers,” said Bruce Cleaver, CEO, De Beers Group.

De Beers will spend $94 million to build a plant near Portland, Oregon, over the next four years to deliver more than 500,000 carats a year of colored synthetic diamonds to supply exclusively for Lightbox. The plant will be part of the company's Element Six unit, which also has several U.K.-based facilities. Element Six is a supplier of synthetic diamonds for such industrial uses as cutting, grinding, drilling, mining, polishing, optics, semi-conductors and sensors.