By Lenore Fedow
Former Shinola president Jacques Panis is now heading New World Diamond, a lab-grown diamond company based in Troy, Michigan.
Troy, Mich.—Jacques Panis, former president of Detroit-based watch brand Shinola, has taken the reigns at New World Diamonds, a lab-grown diamond start-up.

His LinkedIn profile shows he started as New World Diamonds’ CEO in July. He brought along Chris Quezada, Shinola’s former digital art director, to fill the role of creative director.

New World Diamonds did not respond to request for comment Thursday, but Panis told Crain’s Detroit Business in an interview published Sunday that it wasn’t just his experience in the world of watches and jewelry that secured him the job with New World Diamonds, but also his “experience in building brands, marketing and driving the growth of a business."

Troy, Mich.-based Combine International Inc., a privately-held jewelry manufacturer started by Shrikant Mehta in the 1970s, is the parent company of New World Diamonds, and Mehta reached out to Panis to help establish the new company, Crain’s reported.

Combine also could not be reached for comment Thursday, but Michigan jeweler Randy Cole of the Diamond Vault of Troy has known Mehta for decades and told National Jeweler that he has always been “ahead of the curve,” so his move into lab-grown diamonds isn’t a surprise.

According to its website, New World Diamonds is catering to changing tastes as customers look for more cost-effective options; its site promises “minor price tag, major sparkle” and offers a price-match guarantee on any competitor’s diamond.

New World Diamonds also touts its lab-grown stones as an environmentally-friendly option, claiming to be both “ethical” and “conflict-free”.

The company’s mission statement is to “reshape” the way society thinks about diamonds, as well as when and how they should be given.

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