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De Beers' Lightbox Lab-Grown Diamonds To Be Sold at Physical Stores of Bloomingdale's & Reeds Jewelers

A lot of jewelry collectors may be familiar with De Beers, as the primary mining giant in the world of natural diamonds. Last May, the company shocked the world with its announcement of a direct-to-consumer subsidiary called 'Lightbox', which would sell laboratory-grown diamonds to consumers. This controversial move by the natural diamond trade's number one supplier, added to the concern of traders and buyers alike.

(Photography Credit: Lightbox Laboratory Grown Diamonds)

Now, De Beers is said to be partnering with retailers like Bloomingdale's, in an initiative to finally have its lab-grown counterpart; Lightbox, participate in brick-and-mortar jewelry showcases. This new move also comes with some uneasy reactions from the jewelry trade, which has already seen the natural diamond market flounder a bit this year, due to several factors including the trend of man-made diamonds rising to historical highs.

De Beers markets its Lightbox lab-grown diamonds as alternatives for less-formal purchasing reasons, such as gifts for sweet-sixteen birthday celebrants, debutantes, or even for everyday wear by teenagers and youngsters. This might be an effort to help the public understand the difference in current value between this class of product and natural mined diamonds. Chemically speaking, lab-grown diamonds are still diamonds with essentially the same chemical composition (carbon) and crystal structure (cubic) as natural counterparts. This makes most diamond testers that rely on older technology (like thermal testers or electric conductivity testers) virtually useless in separating the two. Advanced photoluminescence spectrometry, and other laboratory tests are needed for the verification of natural diamonds today. One might wonder if this new foray by De Beers is going to further affect the mindset of buyers into accepting lab-grown diamonds as potential jewelry gifts for their loved ones.

Lightbox's prices for its lab-grown diamonds are modest enough to say the least. An earring pair we've seen on their website shows a price of 1000 USD for a total carat weight of 1ct., which basically means two LG diamonds weighing about 0.50ct each. The company's message in pricing is clearly heard- lab-grown diamonds are cheaper, because they're a different class of product. They are still diamonds though, and therefore maintain price ranges well above any diamond imitation used today- such as cubic zirconia or moissanite.

While some people are learning to love lab-grown diamonds, especially in the Western countries, it's really up to the personal taste of a jewelry buyer as to whether or not this product is something that he or she would consider purchasing in place of a natural earth-mined gemstone.

In the following years to come, De Beers is said to have plans for a manufacturing facility located in Oregon that would be able to produce about 200,000 polished carats annually, which calculates to around $200 million worth of merchandise for selling. The complex may be estimated to cost about $94 million. Where will the diamond industry take it from here?
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