By Michelle Graff
RapNet members voted “no” to the online trading platform listing or providing prices for lab-grown diamonds, Chairman Martin Rapaport announced during his annual breakfast in Las Vegas.
Las Vegas—RapNet members overwhelmingly rejected the idea of the trading platform listing or providing pricing for lab-grown diamonds, it was revealed Sunday.

The Rapaport Group announced May 21 that it was asking registered RapNet members who login to to vote on providing diamond listing and pricing services for lab-grown diamonds.

Voting opened May 26 and closed Friday, May 31. More than 7,000 votes were cast and the results were announced during the annual Rapaport Breakfast in Las Vegas.

According to the tallies released Sunday, 79 percent (5,934 voters) of RapNet members who voted said “no” to listing synthetics, compared with only 1,607 people, or 21 percent, who said yes, a result that drew a hearty round of applause from the audience.

A similar percentage, 74 percent (5,232 voters), rejected the idea of Rapaport launching a lab-grown diamond price list.

RapNet voters also overwhelmingly (88 percent, or 5,892 voters) said “yes” to requiring disclosure of treatments on man-made diamonds and to the establishment of a “natural diamond organization” (85 percent, or 5,528 voters).

Prior to announcing the results of the voting, Rapaport Group Chairman Martin Rapaport used much of his annual two-hour breakfast to express his views on man-made diamonds, echoing what he wrote in an editorial published May 21, “Synthetics Ethics.”

It’s true that lab-grown diamonds do have benefits, including affording retailers better margins and being less expensive than natural diamonds, which can make them an easier sell, he said.

But there is also a long list of negatives surrounding the man-made stones, including that they are being mixed with natural diamonds in jewelry and that sellers make “false claims” about the diamonds’ ethical benefits while ignoring both the development benefits of natural diamonds and any negative impacts the lab-grown diamonds have when comparing the two, Rapaport said.

He said man-made diamonds are doing “long-term reputational damage” to the natural diamond industry, distorting the value of diamonds while also hurting development initiatives—including among artisanal miners—in Africa.

Rapaport went on to say that lab-grown diamond melee will “dominate” natural melee, but there will be a “battle” for engagement rings, which is really the key issue for the jewelry industry.

“We lose engagement rings, we’re done,” he said.

Editor’s note: This story was updated post-publication to include the vote tallies.

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