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LGD Man Made diamonds are going to change natural diamonds for the better

diagem

Ideal_Rock
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I left something out (It was a late night rant).
The natural diamond world has done a very poor job of putting out its message that artisinal miners of diamonds and the cutting industry fund wars, employ child and slave labor, rape an pillage the earth etc.

The focus on all the above issues by man made diamonds as being the Achilles heel of the mined diamond industry WILL PUSH the dinosaurs to clean up their act and communicate the good that the industry does.
I hope I am mistaken..., but you are giving the dinosaurs quite a lot of credit.
Until today, the dinosaurs still live in their pre-Historical environment, business wise off course.
 

CheeSauce

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I will also note that the guys I know that have been buying MMD are those techie engineer types. Also, it’s not like they aren’t spending money. Most of them have spent more on the MMD than the cost of my CBI diamond. Brilliant Earth has done some great marketing. I think they just see it as a better value and also so their girlfriends can have a massive rock. At least for the people I know, I don’t think they are particularly concern about the ethics.

But yeah, I don’t know if their girlfriends would have preferred a natural diamond.
 

Pimberly

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I would guess most people buy them because they’re cheaper, but say they bought them for ethical reasons because it sounds better. Which, hey, I don’t judge anyone who wants a good value for their buck. I wanted the real deal, but went pre-owned to save. And I’m sure the ethical angle does feel good as well, but I doubt it’s the primary reason for most.
 

bmfang

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I left something out (It was a late night rant).
The natural diamond world has done a very poor job of putting out its message that artisinal miners of diamonds and the cutting industry fund wars, employ child and slave labor, rape an pillage the earth etc.

The focus on all the above issues by man made diamonds as being the Achilles heel of the mined diamond industry WILL PUSH the dinosaurs to clean up their act and communicate the good that the industry does.
That was alluded to by Mr Rapaport in his recent live stream from Vegas (was a very good talk by him IMHO).
 

Garry H (Cut Nut)

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That was alluded to by Mr Rapaport in his recent live stream from Vegas (was a very good talk by him IMHO).
Far better talk than 2017 and 2018 BMF!
He wants the mined natural diamond biz to collectively spend $1B in telling stories and marketing. De Beers forced Sight Holder companies to do something like that 20 years ago and 80% of the money and activity was pure waste.
 

hobbitfancier55

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My thoughts.
I think times have changed. Just as fewer and fewer people are buying and wearing a watch (no need, we have a phone) I think fewer and fewer people will “desire” diamonds they way they used to.
Firstly, millennials are more interested in experiences than material possessions and secondly fewer are following the “traditional” path of engagement with engagement ring before marriage. Millennials are more likely to want to embrace new and different as often as possible so cheaper and more “disposable” jewellery is preferred. Look at how the clothes industry is suffering. Who buys clothes for the longer term ie higher price for better quality so it lasts? Everyone is buying today’s fashion for $20 and who cares if falls apart after wearing it a few times they’ve already moved onto the next thing.
I think the younger ones know that natural diamonds aren’t “rare” and that mostly mining practices are destructive to the environment and the treatment of workers at mine is poor (Blood diamonds), prices are also presumed manipulated by the “big players” in the industry“ and now, they are not only making pretty sparklers for a fraction of the price (ie Moissanite) they are growing them in labs. Why would a Millennials spend circa $8,000 on a natural 1 carat when a lab grown is circa $1,000, a Moissanite $100 and a CZ $10? They think all are pretty, all sparkle and if they spend few hundred on a pretty ring they can spend the other $7,500 paying off their outstanding education debt, on a trip, on a retreat, on a range of other things that matter and mean more to them.
There will always be a market for the big and special gems but the “bread and butter range” ie $1,000 to $10,000 is under serious threat in my opinion. I just don’t think the demand will be there.
Piggybacking off of this. Idk if I technically need to change my user to say “trade”, but i have been working for a couple weeks now (front desk only) for a jeweler who sells MMD.

The store has been open for around six months now, and 90% of engagement ring sales have been man made diamonds. This was surprising to me at first. I’m 30 (well within millennial age range), and personally prefer mined diamonds. Perhaps this is because i majored in geology and appreciate the time and effort the earth took to make the stone.

That being said, i CAN see why some like MMD. I myself have even opened my eyes and can see some of the benefits. I’d still prefer a mined diamond overall, but i think MMD will become increasingly popular.

1. No ethical worries when it comes to child labor
2. Less environmental damage because mining equipment, water for mining’s, etc. is not necessary
3. One doesn’t have to worry about “blood diamonds” because they know the chain of custody
4. Looks. The stones are essentially identical to mined diamonds in every way, minus origins
5. Bang per buck. Nobody else will know it’s a lab diamond vs mined. Only the buyer’s wallets.

Like Bron said, millennials are being more discerning with their $$, partly because they have to be with the extra burden of loans, cost of living, etc.

Production costs may go down as technology advances. I don’t know that demand will. Only time will tell!
 

OoohShiny

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Piggybacking off of this. Idk if I technically need to change my user to say “trade”, but i have been working for a couple weeks now (front desk only) for a jeweler who sells MMD.

The store has been open for around six months now, and 90% of engagement ring sales have been man made diamonds. This was surprising to me at first. I’m 30 (well within millennial age range), and personally prefer mined diamonds. Perhaps this is because i majored in geology and appreciate the time and effort the earth took to make the stone.

That being said, i CAN see why some like MMD. I myself have even opened my eyes and can see some of the benefits. I’d still prefer a mined diamond overall, but i think MMD will become increasingly popular.

1. No ethical worries when it comes to child labor
2. Less environmental damage because mining equipment, water for mining’s, etc. is not necessary
3. One doesn’t have to worry about “blood diamonds” because they know the chain of custody
4. Looks. The stones are essentially identical to mined diamonds in every way, minus origins
5. Bang per buck. Nobody else will know it’s a lab diamond vs mined. Only the buyer’s wallets.

Like Bron said, millennials are being more discerning with their $$, partly because they have to be with the extra burden of loans, cost of living, etc.

Production costs may go down as technology advances. I don’t know that demand will. Only time will tell!
On a kind of related note, I have sort of been pondering if now is a good time to set up a small shop dealing only in MMDs - I have no capital and am terrible at Sales :???: :lol: but it seems like now is the beginning of a shift in consumer attitudes, so one should get in at the start of these things???

Anyone fancy investing? ;-) :lol: lol
 

Texas Leaguer

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I agree with Garry’s general premise that the challenge from synthetic diamonds will force the natural diamond industry to do a better job of representing our value proposition. And I believe we will. It is a very strong value proposition and once there is a concerted, coordinated effort to message it to the public, the market impact of synthetics will be mitigated and lab grown diamonds will end up taking their rightful place BESIDE natural mined diamonds.

Yes, it is true that social attitudes and millennial tastes and buying patterns are different today, so the predictive comparison of historical evidence may be slightly imperfect. But diamond is not the first gemstone to have been synthesized in the laboratory. Not by any means! Most notably, synthetic corundum was first synthesized well over a century ago and beautiful man made rubies and sapphires quickly became ever-present in the jewelry trade due to their attractiveness and affordability. We can expect synthetic diamonds to follow a similar course (they already are) as the price falls rapidly toward base production cost.

Did the advent of beautiful lab grown rubies and sapphires so long ago derail the market for natural mined rubies and sapphires? Is there any reason to believe that synthetic diamonds will not follow a similar pattern? I personally think that man made diamonds are on a similar path.

That said, I do agree that the natural diamond industry needs to step up its messaging game. It is not just synthetics that compete for the diamond buying dollar. It is, as others have noted, travel and entertainment (experiences) and other consumer products that millennials tend to favor which compete with diamond purchases today.
 

MakingTheGrade

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I’m an older millennial, I make enough to have a healthy amount for fun purchases and I do a mix of natural diamond, moissanite, and eventually MMD. I get moissy currently so I can have a greater variety of rings and shinies without sinking too much money into it. But I also have natural diamonds for all my staple pieces (pendant, bracelets, erings, rhr Etc). I have the budget to do larger diamonds but usually opt not to due to the opportunity cost. 30k represents a lot of options, especially when I can get “the look” of the diamond for 2k.
 

MakingTheGrade

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I agree with Garry’s general premise that the challenge from synthetic diamonds will force the natural diamond industry to do a better job of representing our value proposition. And I believe we will. It is a very strong value proposition and once there is a concerted, coordinated effort to message it to the public, the market impact of synthetics will be mitigated and lab grown diamonds will end up taking their rightful place BESIDE natural mined diamonds.

Yes, it is true that social attitudes and millennial tastes and buying patterns are different today, so the predictive comparison of historical evidence may be slightly imperfect. But diamond is not the first gemstone to have been synthesized in the laboratory. Not by any means! Most notably, synthetic corundum was first synthesized well over a century ago and beautiful man made rubies and sapphires quickly became ever-present in the jewelry trade due to their attractiveness and affordability. We can expect synthetic diamonds to follow a similar course (they already are) as the price falls rapidly toward base production cost.

Did the advent of beautiful lab grown rubies and sapphires so long ago derail the market for natural mined rubies and sapphires? Is there any reason to believe that synthetic diamonds will not follow a similar pattern? I personally think that man made diamonds are on a similar path.

That said, I do agree that the natural diamond industry needs to step up its messaging game. It is not just synthetics that compete for the diamond buying dollar. It is, as others have noted, travel and entertainment (experiences) and other consumer products that millennials tend to favor which compete with diamond purchases today.
I think a slight imperfection of the synthetic corundum analogy is that I don’t think of many 1-2ct diamonds as actually rare in the same sense that an unheated precision cut cornflower round blue sapphire is. I have hundreds of options when shopping for a natural D-F colorless 1ct diamond, even when imposing ideal cut standards. So I don’t think of natural diamonds the same way I do natural colored gems because I have a much stronger “one of a kind” feel about a rare ruby or sapphire that will motivate me to buy it in the moment since I might not ever see it’s like again. Whereas if I buy a 2ct ideal cut moissy or mmd rather than natural diamond, I’m not that worried I won’t ever have the change again to own the natural version if I decide to later.

I recently bought a FCD marquise diamond because I didn’t feel I’d get the chance again.
 

Texas Leaguer

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I’m an older millennial, I make enough to have a healthy amount for fun purchases and I do a mix of natural diamond, moissanite, and eventually MMD. I get moissy currently so I can have a greater variety of rings and shinies without sinking too much money into it. But I also have natural diamonds for all my staple pieces (pendant, bracelets, erings, rhr Etc). I have the budget to do larger diamonds but usually opt not to due to the opportunity cost. 30k represents a lot of options, especially when I can get “the look” of the diamond for 2k.
@MakingTheGrade ,
You might be a 'crossover millenial' ;-)

Seriously though, your point is well taken and I actually think this is the logical way that the synthetic diamond market will go. Once it gets cheap enough for mainstream commercial markets, consumers will be buying it for it's fashion aspects.

Serious gem enthusiasists will buy natural diamonds because they are from the Earth, have rarity, and have stored value. In particular, engagement rings will be overwhelmingly set natural diamond center stones because of the sentimental aspects of an Earth born treasure.
 

Texas Leaguer

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I think a slight imperfection of the synthetic corundum analogy is that I don’t think of many 1-2ct diamonds as actually rare in the same sense that an unheated precision cut cornflower round blue sapphire is. I have hundreds of options when shopping for a natural D-F colorless 1ct diamond, even when imposing ideal cut standards. So I don’t think of natural diamonds the same way I do natural colored gems because I have a much stronger “one of a kind” feel about a rare ruby or sapphire that will motivate me to buy it in the moment since I might not ever see it’s like again. Whereas if I buy a 2ct ideal cut moissy or mmd rather than natural diamond, I’m not that worried I won’t ever have the change again to own the natural version if I decide to later.

I recently bought a FCD marquise diamond because I didn’t feel I’d get the chance again.
Good points.

It's important to realize that there is also a robust market in heat treated mined rubies and sapphires and they are commonly thousands of $ per carat whereas synthetics are available for pennies. The difference is in their Earth mined nature. (This would be analogous to the 1-2ct natural diamonds.)

Certainly the really elite stones (e.g. unheated cornflower blue, pidgeon blood red) have no trouble finding buyers for even bigger money.
 

arkieb1

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@MakingTheGrade ,
You might be a 'crossover millenial' ;-)

Seriously though, your point is well taken and I actually think this is the logical way that the synthetic diamond market will go. Once it gets cheap enough for mainstream commercial markets, consumers will be buying it for it's fashion aspects.

Serious gem enthusiasists will buy natural diamonds because they are from the Earth, have rarity, and have stored value. In particular, engagement rings will be overwhelmingly set natural diamond center stones because of the sentimental aspects of an Earth born treasure.

There will always be a market for natural diamonds just like people/your customers turn up here wanting an E or a D and a IF stone because they think there is some magical about high colour high clarity stones like they are "pure" or somehow the "best" - there is an even larger section of the general public that are purists at heart that want the real not a man made thing. The Chinese for example don't want heated sapphires they want them as they come out of the ground, and for the wealthy growing middle class in Asia, there is almost a stigma attached to buying heated or any treated coloured stones. Diamonds will be no different.

And there will be a huge market for much cheaper similar looking lab grown stones with some people particularly those on tight budgets, people that want something more sustainable and those that honestly just don't care.

And, finally, there will lots of people that want a mix of both.

I see lab grown diamonds smashing the market for things like earrings, pendants and right hand rings, because with things like earrings you can get more bang for your buck, they don't have the emotional or sentimental associations that E-rings have, and lets face it no one is going to know the difference.
 
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JT123

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I will also note that the guys I know that have been buying MMD are those techie engineer types. Also, it’s not like they aren’t spending money. Most of them have spent more on the MMD than the cost of my CBI diamond. Brilliant Earth has done some great marketing. I think they just see it as a better value and also so their girlfriends can have a massive rock. At least for the people I know, I don’t think they are particularly concern about the ethics.

But yeah, I don’t know if their girlfriends would have preferred a natural diamond.
+1. My DH works as an engineer at one of the tech giants here and his younger co-workers do seem to purchase big, MMD for sure. It's quite common now to see 2+ in my area. . Back in the day when I worked in tech at a telecom company in the early 2000s ,a co-worker was engaged to high-up at Oracle and we all thought her ring was TOO big.It was almost 3 carats.I think today that is almost normal here in the bay area to see over 2 -3 carats now.Curious if most I see are MMD? We live in close proximity to Brilliant Earth HQ.
 
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Tekate

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For me I think it will become more like man made rubies, emeralds and sapphires. I would love a MMD for earrings because I don't hold earrings in that high a regard compared to a ring or pendant. There is certainly a market for these stones. I have dreamed of a IIa emerald cut diamond, but I would still know it came from a lab not earth. But I'm in.
 

Bluery

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Another millennial here, my original engagement ring is a natural diamond, H color. It is small, .86, I’m tall with a ring size bigger than many PriceScoper’s tiny size 4s, and for a milestone anniversary, I wanted something bigger, and differently cut, to be proportional on my hand. I found August Vintage’s OEC style cuts and wanted nothing else. But I didn’t want a low color, like many fans of OECs love, and what many of his natural diamonds cut in the style are. (And many of them aren’t as big as I wanted, either.)

I tried on many ideal cut, natural diamonds in a 2-5 carat range at a local jeweler, before solidifying my decision to order online from Rhino. This was not about money for me, I had a very generous budget, but I wanted a new OEC style cut, and I wanted it to be colorless and close to flawless. I got Rhino to custom cut me a D VVSI 2.52 man made AVR diamond, and it sparkles so much more beautifully than the natural rounds I tried on at the jeweler of the same size, for close to the same price. It’s a lot more sparkly than my original diamond (which I kept for sentimentality), too.

A diamond is a diamond to me, it was worth every penny. It doesn’t matter to me if prices change— I get immense joy out of it now, *I* value it, and I didn’t buy it to sell it later. A lot of us millennials feel a diamond is a diamond, and think the man made aspect is cool.
 
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Karl_K

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What I find kinda funny is in spite of all the posturing, that mmd taking over the market is unavoidable.
Mining in the long term is dead.
How soon that will happen however is the question and where mmd prices will land is the other.
 

HDer

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@Karl_K If you prediction is right and we are past the point of "Peak Diamond" and there are going to be fewer and fewer mines opened up, is it not possible that higher carat mined diamond prices will actually go up in the future? Sure, demand will be lower than it is today, but supply will be even lower than that.
 

OoohShiny

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I got Rhino to custom cut me a D VVSI 2.52 man made AVR diamond, and it sparkles so much more beautifully than the natural rounds I tried on at the jeweler of the same size, for close to the same price. It’s a lot more sparkly than my original diamond (which I kept for sentimentality), too.
Did you do a thread in SMTB on this awesome stone?? :)
 

Karl_K

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@Karl_K If you prediction is right and we are past the point of "Peak Diamond" and there are going to be fewer and fewer mines opened up, is it not possible that higher carat mined diamond prices will actually go up in the future? Sure, demand will be lower than it is today, but supply will be even lower than that.
To early to tell if we have hit a peak but it looks like it.
There have been cycles in the paste where it looked like supply was going to crash but new sources where found. There are known pipes in Canada that will likely never be mined because of environmental concerns already.
Who knows a big pipe may be found in an area it can be exploited and supply goes up for a while.
That would just push the timeline further down the road.
It is a fact that many and likely near all mines operating today are on the downside of the production curve or even played out of diamonds that are economical to extract.

I am not willing to predict prices because there are many different ways it can play out on the road to mmd dominence.
My only comment is that mmd prices have not found their stable market level yet and I do not see selling based on mined prices lasting much longer.
 

diamondlover778

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@Karl_K If you prediction is right and we are past the point of "Peak Diamond" and there are going to be fewer and fewer mines opened up, is it not possible that higher carat mined diamond prices will actually go up in the future? Sure, demand will be lower than it is today, but supply will be even lower than that.
If mined diamonds and lab grown diamonds are seen as interchangeable (aka just diamonds) then natural diamonds would fall to whatever level lab grown diamonds fall. Whether this happens is not entirely clear yet.

In contrast to many here I think that engagement rings will actually go lab grown more than even other purposes. Many millennials feel like they "ought" to buy a diamond ring. It's like a checkbox. An obligation. Something that must be done to keep up appearances. Fulfilling that checkbox with an identical product visually at a far lower price (bonus points for ethical/environmental reasons) just makes sense to them.

A lot of these people are buying rings with fairly low budgets. Cheap natural diamonds look downright bad, minimal sparkle etc.

I'm sure there is some appeal in the mined aspect for some people, but if your budget is 1,800 - 2,000 for a diamond, take a look at what that gets you.



On the even cheaper side, 800 bucks a carat for lightbox, G color, excellent cut. An 800 dollar natural diamond is just going to be terrible by comparison.

This train wreck or a 1.0 carat lightbox diamond? Not a hard choice.



On the higher end:


vs


Looking at >3x the price and a ~11k premium here. The new generation doesn't mind living together before marriage, doesn't mind women earning more than men, doesn't mind lab grown diamonds etc. a lot of old rules are being discarded and the idea that a natural diamond must be bought is going with it imo. We'll see within 5 years. I wouldn't be surprised to see both natural diamonds and lab grown diamonds to continue falling at similar rates to the present (natural diamonds are falling roughly 5-6% and lab ~20%, but make no mistake both are falling) with natural diamonds continuing to take more marketshare.
 
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PreRaphaelite

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But they also don’t care about buying from retail. Many upcoming buyers will be happy to scour flea markets and pawn shops. It is the gamification of diamond shopping.

I think Rap made reference to the surge in demand for Estate. Many millennials prefer vintage over ‘new’ (never mind that to them, vintage can include 1980’s). They will change the industry in lots of ways, and big maul stores will probably lose. Mom & Pop will likely win! (At least I hope so.)
 

Bluery

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I posted a couple of photos of it in the MMD SMTB thread and on the AV thread in there! I didn’t know if posting in the main SMTB is “allowed,” with a lab diamond, plus many people here on PS in general get so up in arms over MMDs, I didn’t want to incur that haha.

Did you do a thread in SMTB on this awesome stone?? :)
 

headlight

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Man Made Diamonds could change natural diamonds for the better.

Cut Quality


The most profound discovery I made at the 2019 Vegas JCK jewellery trade fair was man made round brilliant cut (RBC) diamonds look better than their natural equivalent. Most larger than 1/3rd of a carat diamonds I saw at several booths had fantastic Ideal-Scope images where-as less that 30% of GIA XXX natural diamonds have acceptable Ideal-Scope images. The worst I saw would have had an HCA score of under 3 and most were near HCA 1.0 with a fair number under 1.

The reason for this is that growers know the width of the stones they will cut from each slab and so they stop the growth as soon as they reach the desired predetermined carat weight. Why grow any deeper? So since depth is the constraint most CVD RBC’s are cut around Hearts and Arrows to slightly shallow proportions.

I predict that when choosing between a natural and a CVD diamond the wonderful sparkle and larger apparent size of the man made diamond will surprise the pundits and the larger CVD diamonds will take a bigger chunk of the engagement ring market than others are expecting.

In a perfect world this may encourage diamond cutters to improve their cut quality.

Secondly, diamond cuts that favour larger spreads, like marquise, pear shapes and ovals, should also share this fortunate CVD trait. However Emerald cuts, asscher and cushions require greater depth and I saw very few attractive stones in these cuts.

Finally, since the rough material is not rare, nor expensive, I imagine creative cut designs will flourish in the CVD domain.Infact if anyone reading this wants to participate in a man made diamond cut design competition, my Cut Group associates and I would love to talk to you.

So how can the above change natural diamonds for the better?

The industry needs a good kick up the rear. Shape up or die out is the message. Investors are pulling funds from prospectors (speaking from experience as an investor in a great prospect in the Simpson Desert Australia). Banks are backing away from supporting manufacturers as natural prices are falling.

Innovate or die ye dinosaurs, living on the back of a single cut design that turned 100 just a few days ago!

Grading

As technology improves, dial a colour and clarity is becoming reality. De Beers probably have the very best CVD technology and Light Box claim they do not need to do HPHT treatment to enhance / remove brown colour. Light Box diamonds are not given a grade as they are apparently +G and +VS2. As a consistently manufactured product De Beers claim there is no need for grading as the stones are all relatively colourless and eye clean. ‘Fit for purpose’.

Taking out the grading is huge cost saving. Natural high quality diamond requires third party lab certificate, which is almost $100 / Ct. Added to this is the cost of shipping and insurance to and from the lab, plus capital locked up by the time taken to perform the grading increasing holding costs.

If LGDs are inhouse graded (for less than $5 a stone) and a buyer disagrees with the grade, the consequences would not be a big deal since rarity is not what man made diamonds are about. There would likely be less challenges.

LGDs material transparency has more meaning, although this desperately needed index is not yet available from any lab.


Cost of Manufacture

Because large CVD diamonds have high or high enough clarity, the need to plan around inclusions using expensive equipment and expert engineers, planning the cut is cheaper and faster.

With no strict XXX grading there is less need for the mass market to manufacturers to control polishing quality.

According to Janak Mistry of Lexus Softmac Surat India a CVD polisher is paid $0.1 to remove 0.01 Ct by polishing.

So if a polisher removes 0.25 Ct from a 1.25 Ct automatically blocked of laser preformed stone, he would be paid $2.5.

But to achieve a polished weigh of a natural 1.00 Ct GIA XXX a polisher is paid an incentive of $35.

Janak says: “I know companies who pay $2.1 to finish 0.50 Ct LGD from blocked to finish stage.”

As Symmetry, Junctions, Polish quality and mass recovery is not critical for LGDs, they can be finished on automatic polishing machines, which will reduce cost by 90%.

The Million Dollar Question?

So really Garry? You think this could be good for natural diamonds? Are you dreaming?

Well yes, because the reason these man made diamonds have burst on to the market in larger volumes and with more enthusiasm than anyone expected a few years back is because entrepreneurs and investors smelled huge profits. But good old economics 101 mean supply and demand will result in big and sudden plummeting prices.

Pricing man made diamonds relative to natural diamonds is tantamount to theft. Natural diamonds are rare and finding new mines is getting harder and harder and existing mines are getting older and deeper. Natural diamond prices quadruple with doubling of carat weight. Man made CVD diamonds double in price as carat weight doubles. When supply exceeds demand and reality bites man made diamond prices will fall. When Light Box’s new Portland factory adds 200,000 carats a year to the market, at retail $800 / Ct (irrespective of carat weight) then for perhaps the first time in De Beers history, they will improve the transparency of the diamond industry.

Expect prices to be divided by numbers, not percentages. Pity anyone playing musical chairs with large inventories. Bankruptcies from retailers will domino into the mid market. Borrowers are doomed. Investors will run away.

(There are other big structural problems in the natural diamond world too, but this is enough for one night).

Investors ploughing millions into marketing man made diamonds facing reducing margins and returns will pull back at about the same time as the old dinosaurs of the natural world finally learn they must promote and innovate or die.

So in the end, the natural mined diamond industry will have had a huge wake up call. We may even see a flurry of new designs of cuts with real beauty designed using modern computer and AI tools such as some of those from my old Cut Group associates from OctoNus and Lexus, who contributed some insights to this ramble.
@Garry H (Cut Nut) thank you for stating that natural diamonds ARE rare, finding new mines harder and harder, and existing mines getting older and deeper (i.e., depleted... as is the case of the Argyle mine).
Also, I thought the "blood diamond" issue had been eradicated via the Kimberley Process???
While I don't think the desire for natural diamonds will ever go away, I do think that the increased interest in MMD will force the "natural" industry to be more accountable, as you've stated, and I think that is a great thing.
I have met 1 person who wanted a synthetic over a natural diamond, however I do not know the reasons for that preference. The people I have known that could not afford a natural diamond have opted for a colored stone set in a mounting accented with natural diamonds (especially in a halo design) or have gone with an eternity band ring containing natural diamonds.
I am in my 50s so maybe I am just "old school" with regard to feeling an engagement diamond should be a natural diamond. I do know a group of mid-to-late 30-somethings who all have natural diamonds of impressive sizes, however they are in L.A. and all entertainment industry execs.
I cannot see my currently mid-twenties sons proposing some day (not any time soon) with anything but a natural diamond, but maybe that is because I am their mother!
 

Whisper89

Rough_Rock
Joined
Nov 26, 2018
Messages
94
I'm in my early 30s and have the typical millennial issues regarding low income, high house prices, etc. I'm not normally an emotional, lovey-dovey person. I like science. But when it comes to diamonds, particuarly engagement diamonds, I want the romantic notion of a gem that has been formed in the earth, over many years, a natural process. I do not want the idea of someone in a white coat and safety goggles 'creating' a synthetic version in a cold, sterile lab. Whether those images are accurate or not (and I'm guessing not) - that's how I see it, and as far as I know all my friends/acquaintances agree. I've seen 5 or 6 friends get engaged over the last year or so, all received the typical solitaire with a natural diamond.
 

Texas Leaguer

Ideal_Rock
Trade
Joined
Jul 27, 2009
Messages
3,122
I don't think it is particularly enlightening to think of "millenials" as some sort of monolith. Yes, there are trends and new preferences and sensibilities - there are with every new generation. But the cohort is complex and diverse and they are always influenced greatly by an older generation. So change in appetites will be somewhat slow and uneven.

The appeal of a cheaper alternative is certainly a factor for many, but millenials are not unlike other generations in wanting value for their important purchases. Because synthetic prices are falling and can be expected to continue to do so, it is hard for anyone to see value when there is no secondary market and there is virtual certainty that prices will be lower for synthetics if you wait till next year to buy, and even cheaper the year after that, etc.

Just as the new generation is not a monolith, neither is the jewelry industry. Synthetics will make inroads in some areas (fashion jewelry in particular) but will be much slower to be adopted in bridal for instance. There is not only a price component at play, but an emotional one as well that can't be overlooked.

In all the debate around this issue, I have not heard anyone offer a persuasive argument as to why synthetic diamonds will not follow a similar trajectory to that of synthetic rubies, sapphires,and other true synthetic gemstones with the same optical and chemical properties of the natural. All those alternatives have found a separate niche in the jewelry trade, at the same time that their natural mined counterparts continue to increase in price. Why should diamond be different in that regard?
 

MelloYello8

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jul 6, 2018
Messages
148
All of my lab diamonds were American made and that was important to me. The lab diamond market is now getting flooded with Chinese made rocks but Tiffany & Co is now able to track for the customer the provenance of their diamonds. Thus the margins of my personal ethical considerations for choosing lab over natural is diminishing quickly.
 

diamondlover778

Rough_Rock
Joined
Oct 28, 2019
Messages
6
Synthetics will make inroads in some areas (fashion jewelry in particular) but will be much slower to be adopted in bridal for instance. There is not only a price component at play, but an emotional one as well that can't be overlooked.

In all the debate around this issue, I have not heard anyone offer a persuasive argument as to why synthetic diamonds will not follow a similar trajectory to that of synthetic rubies, sapphires,and other true synthetic gemstones with the same optical and chemical properties of the natural. All those alternatives have found a separate niche in the jewelry trade, at the same time that their natural mined counterparts continue to increase in price. Why should diamond be different in that regard?
Lab grown diamonds are actually making the most inroads in bridal, contrary to De Beers' wishes. Fashion too, but engagement rings are the bread and butter, just like mined diamonds. And you are right there is an emotional component, and that will help lab grown diamonds as the environmental impact of mined diamonds (as well as the inability to truly guarantee a diamond is conflict free) continues to be an issue. When a good chunk of mined diamonds actually end up being lab diamonds you know they don't have control over their supply chain.

As for why are diamonds different? That's easy. The price of diamonds is a result of incredible demand by laymans. How many joe schmoe people were buying rubies before synthetic rubies came onto the market? I know 0 people with rubies. On the flip side ~80-90% of people I know have diamond rings.

There was never any societal expectation to buy your SO a ruby or emerald or whatever. It has always been a diamond, since the original marketing campaign. Now you have the opportunity to buy a diamond for less than half the price. For the most indebted generation in history, that's appealing. It will be even more appealing when it's 1/4th the price.

How many rubies do you see while shopping at your local grocery store? Now how many diamonds do you see?

Finally as for value of a mined diamond vs lab diamond over time, mined diamonds have been declining in value too.

De Beers just cut prices on the diamonds they offer at their november sale today by 5%. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-11-04/de-beers-cuts-diamond-prices-by-about-5-as-crisis-deepens

Mined diamonds have continued to decline in price, why are we so sure they won't decline further? If I spend 33% of what I would have on a comparable mined diamond, I have 67% capital left if I get 0 dollars for my lab diamond in 5 years (which clearly isn't the case). However in 5 years at 7% return my capital will have grown to 94% of the original purchase price for a comparable diamond. That other diamond? Well, you often lose ~20% reselling a mined diamond, so that already puts them behind. Now factor in that there's a good chance natural diamonds will continue to decline in price and it seems like financial suicide to opt to spend 3x as much money on an asset that also depreciates, even if it depreciates somewhat slower.

Diamonds are just about the crappiest investment you could make. There was a brief mania over diamonds as an investment in the 1980s during a period of significant inflation before the bubble collapsed catastrophically. Diamonds have been a poor investment since then, and seem like an even worse investment today.

If fiscal responsibility is on the forefront of your mind while shopping for an engagement ring (note this generally isn't the case), you are probably going to opt for a lab grown diamond, or a moissanite or even CZ. It's a shiny rock. They're beautiful, yes. But they're not investments. Imo most people buy lab grown diamonds for engagement rings because at the budget most people are at (2,000-4,000 for the diamond itself) there is simply no comparison in quality/appearance. Why accept a yellower, less clear, and smaller diamond with mediocre cut when you could get a larger, whiter (or any color for that matter), clearer diamond with a better cut? If you're spending 100k they'll both look fantastic, but at 2-4k? Mined diamonds don't look that impressive.
 
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