By Michelle Graff
This new limited-edition necklace from Lightbox features a 1 1/8-carat lab-grown baguette-cut diamond ($1,000 retail). Lightbox has started shipping to Canada, and the new Element Six facility that will supply its diamonds is set to open in Oregon early next year.
New York—Lightbox, the lab-grown diamond brand launched by De Beers last year, is headed north.

The company said Thursday it will now sell and ship to Canadians in all 10 of the country’s provinces, marking the first time Lightbox has been sold outside the United States.

It said the move was “a direct response to requests from Canadian customers who have expressed an interest in Lightbox since the company launched e-commerce last September.”

De Beers announced plans to get into the business of man-made diamonds in spring 2018, right before the Las Vegas trade shows.
RELATED CONTENT: Consumers Saw Lightbox. Here’s What They Wanted to Know.
News that the diamond miner and marketer would begin selling man-made stones shook up the industry, particularly when De Beers revealed how much it would be charging—$800 per carat plus the cost of the setting.

Currently, Lightbox is sold online direct to consumers only, but Chief Marketing Officer Sally Morrison said during a panel discussion at the JA National Convention last week that it would be announcing the location for a fourth quarter brick-and-mortar test “very soon.”

Why Oregon?
Currently, the diamonds set in Lightbox Jewelry are being grown at the Element Six facility in the United Kingdom. Element Six is a De Beers Group company and has been growing diamonds for industrial uses since 1946.

The stones are cut and polished in India, and the jewelry is made in Thailand.

Early next year, production will begin migrating to the United States when De Beers opens an Element Six manufacturing facility in Gresham, Oregon.

In May, before the Las Vegas jewelry trade shows, executives from Element Six and Lightbox took journalists on a tour of the still-under-construction factory, which sits on a 7 1/2-acre site about 15 miles outside Portland.

During the trip, which also included a stop at the Element Six WeWork office space in Portland, they provided background on how U.K.-based Element Six ended up in the American Pacific Northwest.

20190805 Lightbox PortlandPoster boards set up inside the under-construction Element Six factory in Gresham, Oregon provide a glimpse of how it will look upon completion. The diamond-growing facility is set to begin production in January 2020. (Photo credit: Michelle Graff)

De Beers started planning for Lightbox 2 1/2 years ago.

It originally identified 199 countries that could be a fit for a new diamond-growing facility, then knocked that down to 47, then to 20, then to six: Estonia, Canada, South Korea, Norway, Sweden and the United States.

Among the company’s biggest concerns was having an affordable, steady power supply for the plant—losing power for even a split-second can cost a diamond-grower hundreds of thousands of dollars, Lightbox CEO Steve Coe explained—and being able to attract qualified candidates to work there.

Climate also plays a role, as lower average temperatures make the water cooling of a diamond-growing facility easier.

Ultimately, De Beers chose the U.S. and narrowed it down to two locations—Gresham and a site near Spokane, Washington, 340 miles to the northeast on the Washington-Idaho border.

While both Washington state (where the Diamond Foundry is opening a new diamond-growing facility) and Oregon offer cool climates and affordable hydroelectric power, The Beaver State ultimately won out because of the depth of the talent pool in Portland and Gresham’s proximity to a major airport.

When press visited the site in late May, executives said the factory was about six months from being operational.

Coe said in an email to National Jeweler Thursday that it will come online in January 2020, ramping up to full production by early 2021.

When completed, the Element Six factory will be about 100,000 square feet and look, basically, like a huge, white box; its design is modern and clean, with little signage.

It is one of a number of manufacturing facilities in the Gresham Vista Business Park, a 221-acre industrial site whose tenants include Subaru, with the Portland General Electric McGill substation in the center.

The factory will eventually pump out 700,000-800,000 carats a year in rough diamonds, which will yield about 200,000 carats of polished, Coe said.

Get the Daily News >
National Jeweler

Fine Jewelry Industry News

Since 1906, National Jeweler has been the must-read news source for smart jewelry professionals--jewelry retailers, designers, buyers, manufacturers, and suppliers. From market analysis to emerging jewelry trends, we cover the important industry topics vital to the everyday success of jewelry professionals worldwide. National Jeweler delivers the most urgent jewelry news necessary for running your day-to-day jewelry business here, and via our daily e-newsletter, website and other specialty publications, such as "The State of the Majors." National Jeweler is published by Jewelers of America, the leading nonprofit jewelry association in the United States.