James Allen has launched sales of lab-grown diamonds, marking parent company Signet Jewelers’ entry into the synthetics market.
The e-commerce business, which Signet acquired in 2017, now gives consumers the option of “earth-created” or “lab-created” stones on its retail page. James Allen is offering lab-grown as center stones for engagement rings, promising “up to 30% more size for the same cost.” At press time, the prices of lab-grown on the site ranged from $450 for a radiant, 0.52-carat stone to $48,350 for an emerald-cut, 4.49-carat diamond.
All its lab-grown diamonds will carry grading reports from laboratories such as the International Gemological Institute (IGI) or the Gem Certification & Assurance Lab (GCAL). The colors available on the James Allen site range from D to J, while clarities span from internally flawless to SI2.
Analysts were expecting Signet to move into the lab-grown market, after Gina Drosos, its CEO, said last year it was assessing demand, and would position itself to offer the category if consumers wanted it. It has taken a different approach from De Beers, which launched its Lightbox fashion-jewelry line a year ago with a standard price of $800 per carat and no grading reports.
Mined diamonds are still “the traditional choice,” James Allen notes in the questions-and-answers section of its site. But it emphasizes that its lab-grown stones are chemically identical and look the same as naturals, and that they are graded to the same standards.
Signet views James Allen as an incubator for testing out ideas, Drosos observed in an investor call in December. Late last year, it launched a concept store for the brand in Washington, DC, featuring new retail technology.