De Beers’ Lightbox Stops Lab-grown Diamond Engagement Rings Test-run

PARIS De Beers has called time out on its test-run of lab-grown diamond engagement rings, the company said Wednesday.

Going forward, its lab-grown subsidiary Lightbox will continue to focus on its initial offering of fashion jewelry and loose stones, which the company described as “the most promising future opportunities in the sector.”

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At the same time, De Beers unveiled an additional $20 million media investment to promote natural diamonds ahead of the 2023 holiday season in the U.S. and China. This will include the reintroduction of its historic “A Diamond Is Forever” tag line, along with a new take on its “Seize the Day” campaign, which premiered in 2015.

The company had launched in June a limited series of 16 solitaire rings — all priced at $5,000 or less, with the average hovering around $2,500. The designs, ranging from very simple gold bands to more elaborate halo styles with smaller pavé lab-grown stones, were offered with stones from one to two carats.

In a statement, De Beers said this had “reinforced existing insights into the wider LGD sector that indicate the commercial proposition for many LGD engagement ring offers is likely unsustainable.”

In particular, it noted that retailers needed to “double the number of LGD carats sold every two years just to maintain a flat absolute gross profit” and said a consumer survey it had done in China and the U.S. showed consumers continue to rate natural stones higher than their lab-grown counterparts in a number of contexts, including marking important relationship milestones.

De Beers’ move comes as lab-grown diamond prices continue to fall sharply, according to industry reports. Advocates for these stones continue to insist on their environmental, social and cost-effective appeal, while natural gems organizations insist on their billion-year origin story and the positive impact on local communities.

While most traditional jewelry houses remain skeptical, Parisian jeweler Fred unveiled Tuesday a first high jewelry set featuring GIA-certified lab-grown blue diamonds. At the other end of the price spectrum, Danish jewelry behemoth Pandora has recently stepped up its lab-grown diamond offering with the launch of three new collections and a star-studded campaign.

De Beers established Lightbox in 2018 in order to help steer the lab-grown diamond narrative. It set a strict per-carat pricing model for the stones (pro-rated at $800 per carat, regardless of the stone’s size or color) in an attempt to lead the industry’s treatment of lab diamonds.

In June, Lightbox had said its lab-grown stones and their production process were certified fully carbon neutral, with 100 percent of its energy source from renewable wind energy.

Remaining carbon emissions are offset by the company engaging in certified sustainable initiatives, which support the expansion of renewable energy infrastructure, it added.

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