To carry, or not to carry

EditorsJun 06, 2014

To carry, or not to carry

I personally attended two panels in Las Vegas where the topic of lab-grown diamonds, also called synthetics, came up; the first covered synthetic diamond disclosure and the second was on five forces shaping the future of the industry. No. 1 of those five was lab-grown diamonds.

Whenever the topic of synthetic diamonds arises, the discussion that generally follows centers on non-disclosure of synthetics, and the dishonest people and companies who try to pass off lab-grown diamonds, particularly melee, as natural.

The most egregious case documented so far has been the 145 undisclosed synthetics that surfaced in the spring of 2012 at the International Gemological Institute’s Antwerp lab.

A number of other smaller incidents of non-disclosure have occurred since then. While this is obviously a situation the industry needs to address, I think the issue of non-disclosure, at times, overshadows a larger question surrounding lab-grown diamonds that nobody is really asking, even as production ramps up around the globe.

And that is this: Retailers, would you carry a line of lab-grown diamond jewelry in your store? How much actual demand do you see for this product?

There are, after all, legitimate, ethical designers and companies selling synthetics.

Lita Asscher, one of the panelists for the five forces shaping the industry talk mentioned above, is the president of Royal Asscher of America. Her family’s company, which has a rich history in the natural diamond business, sells a line of lab-grown colored fashion diamond jewelry called Rebel Chique online. It’s a great way for people to own yellow, pink or blue diamond jewelry, pieces that would be monetarily out of reach for the vast majority of consumers if set with natural stones.

Just before the Las Vegas shows, Toronto-based designer Reena Ahluwalia, who has created pieces for Royal Asscher, among others, introduced a line intended for wholesale distribution, Nuture by Reena, the “world’s first lab-grown diamond designer jewelry brand.”

When I first saw Reena’s news release, I was intrigued. What would make a designer who has worked exclusively with natural stones decide to create a line using lab-grown diamonds? And how was the response from retailers at JCK Las Vegas, where she exhibited the line for the first time?

Reena told me that for her, the choice to design with lab-grown diamonds was a personal and artistic one that sprouted from her own interest in nature vs. nurture. To her, lab-grown diamonds are an example of human innovation and our ability to take inspiration from nature and create something through nurture.

She said at the show, response to her first Nuture line, The Moments Collection, was very positive because the retailers are looking for something different.

Nuture by Reena, I should mention, is a line of lab-grown diamond jewelry that comes with a wearable technology twist. The pieces have a QR code that connects them with an app specifically designed for the Moments collection. The app allows users to share the story behind the “moment” when the jewelry was exchanged.

In the end, Reena said, today’s consumers are looking for a choice, and that is all she trying to give them: a choice to buy lab-grown diamond jewelry if they want it, with clear education and total transparency.

“The question I would ask is, what can we do to make sure that lab-grown diamonds find their rightful place and are given the ability to present themselves fairly?” Reena said. “History has shown that with acceptance comes peace, harmony and real growth.”

So, retailers, the question comes down to you: to carry, or not to carry, jewelry set with lab-grown diamonds in your store?
Michelle Graffis the editor-in-chief at National Jeweler, directing the publication’s coverage both online and in print.

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