AGTA Bans Lab-Grown Diamonds, Gemstones at GemFair

The American Gem Trade Association announced that, starting at Tucson next year, exhibitors will not be allowed to sell lab-grown diamonds or colored gemstones at the AGTA GemFair.

National Jeweler received a news release on AGTA’s decision via email Wednesday morning. The release also was posted on the AGTA website, though it had been removed by Wednesday evening.

AGTA CEO John W. Ford Sr. said the news release was “pulled by error,” and would be reposted today.

According to the release, AGTA’s new rule bans the display of loose gemstones or jewelry “comprising non-natural gemstones, ones that are man-made, synthetic, or lab grown.”

AGTA said its dealers can still sell lab-grown gems if they are disclosed, but only natural gems can be made available for purchase at GemFair.

The association said it enacted the ban to “thwart potential confusion,” confusion it sees happening in the lab-grown diamond industry and fears will affect the colored gemstone industry, even though lab-grown colored stones have been around for more than a century.

When asked what led to the belief that confusion was occurring, or could occur, in the colored gemstone market, Ford said in an email to National Jeweler, “Look no further than the chaos created by synthetics in the diamond industry … Our action is also in response to considerable concerns voiced by AGTA membership in relation to the adverse effects that synthetics could also potentially cause in the colored gemstone industry.”

While the AGTA’s decision has made headlines, it does not seem poised to have a big impact on AGTA GemFair exhibitors, few of whom sell lab-grown gemstones anyway.

In his email, Ford said out of the 260 exhibitors of loose or set gemstones at the 2024 AGTA GemFair Tucson, only two list that they sell synthetic gemstones in the AGTA Source Directory.

“Since sending out over (260) 2025 AGTA GemFair Tucson renewals, we’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response from the vast majority of our exhibitors, greatly outweighing any negative responses,” he said.

Related stories will be right here …

In its news release, AGTA also noted that lab-grown gemstones lack the value inherent to natural gemstones, which are rare and sometimes inimitable.

“AGTA felt that it needed to be crystal clear to buyers that when they attend an AGTA show, they know that they are only shopping mined natural gems from the earth,” said Kimberly Collins, AGTA board president and owner of Kimberly Collins Colored Gems.

“AGTA dealers pride themselves in sourcing superior gems that are rare, beautiful, and natural.”

AGTA also notes that “synthetic gems are not minerals.”

The association said it recognizes two definitions of the word “mineral”—that of the British Geological Survey, defining a mineral as “a naturally occurring substance with distinctive chemical and physical properties, composition, and atomic structure” and that of the U.S. Geological Survey, which defines a mineral as a “naturally occurring inorganic element or compound having an orderly internal structure and characteristic chemical composition, crystal form, and physical properties.”

“The definitions are essentially the same, but the keyword in both that is important is use of the word ‘natural,’” said AGTA board member John Bradshaw.

“It’s important to indicate that synthetic gems are not considered minerals, because minerals are natural, and synthetics are not.”

Source: Nationaljeweler

UK synthetic diamond firm told ads cannot describe diamonds as ‘real’

Ads for synthetic diamond jewellery have been banned after the UK company behind them, Skydiamond, did not make it clear they were not real.

Even though the strapline of the newspaper advert was the “world’s first and only diamond made entirely from the sky” and a social media ad said “love is… a diamond gift made from the sky”, there were complaints from the National Diamond Association.

The advertising regulator upheld the complaints and concluded that the ads were misleading and said they could not appear again in the same form, including on the company’s website without, better explanation.

Skydiamond, the trading name for The Sky Mining Company Ltd, was told by the Advertising Standards Authority not to use the terms “diamonds”, “diamonds made entirely from the sky” and “Skydiamond”, and not to describe its synthetic products “without a clear and prominent qualifier”.

The firm was told by the ASA that it must use terms such as ‘synthetic’, ‘laboratory-grown’ or ‘laboratory-created’, “or another way of clearly and prominently conveying the same meaning to consumers” and were not to use the claim “real diamonds” to describe synthetic diamonds.

Sky Mining said both the ads and extensive information and graphics on its website set out that their diamonds were manufactured in a laboratory, with detailed information on the production process on its website.

The company said the very brand was built on the premise that their diamonds did not come from the earth and do not have the negative environmental impacts associated with diamond mining, with all components required sourced from the sky: atmospheric carbon dioxide (as a source of carbon), rainwater (as a source of hydrogen) and renewable energy from solar and wind power.

As explained on the company’s website, Skydiamonds are made from carbon dioxide and hydrogen extracted and produced using proven industrial processes and combined to form methane in a biological process, with methane fed into chemical vapour deposition machines in which diamonds developed at a high temperature over 14 days.

It says for every carat of Skydiamond produced, greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by 99.79% compared to mined diamonds, and that compared to growing diamonds in a laboratory, mined diamonds produce 4,383 times more waste, use 2.14 times the energy and 6.8 times as much water.

The ASA acknowledged that further information on the Sky Mining manufacturing process appeared on About Us pages of the website among other pages.

“However, in the absence of a clearly worded and prominent qualification such as ‘synthetic’, ‘laboratory-created’ or ‘laboratory-grown’, or another way of clearly and prominently communicating the same meaning, we considered it was still ambiguous as to whether the diamonds were synthetic or not,” the regulator said.

Source: proactiveinvestors

Are Lab-grown Diamonds Sustainable?

Human-made diamonds come with an appealing claim: Manufacturers say the stones are produced ethically using renewable energy. But many of the products do not meet that claim or their producers do not confirm the electricity sources they use. And, laboratory diamonds require a lot of electricity to produce.

In the United States, lab-grown diamond sales increased 16 percent in 2023 from 2022, says Edahn Golan, an industry expert. The stones cost much less than natural diamonds.

Bario Neal is a jewelry store in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It uses lab diamonds. All of the stones are either made with renewable energy or neutral use of energy through the carbon credit system. Credits pay for activities like planting trees, which capture carbon.

Social media posts show Millennials and Generation Zs proudly explaining the purchase of their lab-grown diamonds for sustainability and ethical reasons. But the sustainability of production is questionable. A high number of manufacturers are not transparent, or open, about their operations.

Many of the manufacturers are in India, where about 75 percent of electricity comes from burning coal. The companies use words like “sustainable” and “environmentally-friendly” on their websites. But they do not release reports on the environmental effects of their operations.

Cupid Diamonds, for example, says on its website that it produces diamonds in “an environmentally friendly manner.” But it did not answer questions about the sustainability of its operations.

Solar energy is quickly expanding in India and there are some companies, such as Greenlab Diamonds, that use renewables in their manufacturing processes.

China is the other major country producing laboratory diamonds. The largest makers did not return requests for comment. They also did not release details about their electricity source.

More than half of China’s electricity came from coal in 2023.

Paul Zimnisky is a diamond industry expert. He said few companies are honest about their supply chains and their use of renewable energy.

Zimnisky said a lot of companies claim to make an “environmentally-friendly product when they aren’t really doing anything that’s environmentally friendly.”

How it is made

Lab diamonds have been in production around seventy years. Producers treat carbon to high pressure and high temperature. The idea is to copy the natural conditions that form diamonds underground. But, nature spends at least one billion years to make a diamond. Lab diamonds are complete in a few weeks.

In the past, the stones were used mostly in industries like stone cutting, mining and dentistry tools.

Over time the laboratories, or foundries, have gotten better at making stones. Production costs have dropped as technology improves.

Companies now can manufacture as many stones as they want and choose their size and quality.

Diamonds, whether lab-grown or natural, are chemically identical and entirely made out of carbon. Experts can identify between the two using lasers to examine their atomic structures.

Marketing battle

The lab diamond is competing in the same market as natural stones. Worldwide, lab-grown diamonds are now 5 to 6 percent of that market. And, the public battle for customers has begun.

The natural diamond industry and some experts argue that lab-grown diamonds will not hold value over time.

Zimnisky predicts that natural diamonds will continue to sell in the thousands and tens of thousands of dollars for engagement rings.

And the human-made stone?

“Five to ten years into the future, I think there’s going to be very few customers that are willing to spend thousands of dollars for a lab diamond,” he said.

Page Neal said she co-founded Bario Neal in 2008 to “create jewelry of lasting value that would have a positive impact on people and the planet.”

She added: “We want to only work with materials that we feel like our clients would be proud to own.”

I’m Dan Novak.

Dan Novak adapted this story for VOA Learning English based on reporting by The Associated Press.

Trade Groups Sign Deal on Lab-Grown Diamonds

The World Jewellery Confederation (CIBJO) and the International Grown Diamond Association (IGDA) have agreed to collaborate to protect consumer confidence around synthetic diamonds.

The organizations have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) calling for the pair to develop standards, operating principles and terminology for lab-grown diamonds, they said Monday. IGDA president Joanna Park-Tonks will sit on CIBJO’s laboratory-grown diamond committee, which has created a “Laboratory-Grown Diamond Guideline” governing standards for trading and handling synthetic stones.

The honest and accurate presentation of sustainability issues is a current focus for CIBJO’s laboratory-grown committee and was an element during the discussions between CIBJO and IGDA, the organizations said.

“We have had open lines of communication for some time already, and IGDA did participate in the public review before we released the ‘Laboratory-Grown Diamond Guidance’ document in 2021,” said CIBJO president Gaetano Cavalieri. “Over the past several years, the laboratory-grown diamonds sector has grown into a large and a prominent part of our industry, and we all have a vested interest in each other’s success.”

The signing took place on Sunday during the National Association of Jewellers (NAJ) Summit in Birmingham, UK.


Lightbox Starts Selling Engagement Rings with Lab-Grown Diamonds

De Beers’ Lightbox lab-grown diamond brand is trialing sales of engagement rings, marking a major shift for the company, which previously insisted synthetic stones were not a product for important milestones.

The retailer is publicizing lab-grown diamond engagement rings on its home page, promising a “stress-free and risk-free” shopping experience. “Our cutting-edge technology ensures each of our lab-grown diamonds are quality guaranteed,” the site reads, with the marketing line: “Because great chemistry deserves great chemistry.”

A link takes viewers to a page listing 16 items featuring regular Lightbox lab-grown diamonds, or stones from the brand’s Finest line, which have higher color and clarity. The standard collection usually sells for $800 per carat plus the cost of the setting, while Finest retails at $1,500 per carat. The selection includes white, pink and blue stones, with prices ranging from $500 for a three-stone ring to $5,000 for 2 carats.

Lightbox was unavailable for comment on Sunday, but told Women’s Wear Daily (WWD) and JCK it was running “a small in-market test of consumer preferences in the lab-grown diamond engagement ring segment.”

When De Beers launched Lightbox in 2018, Bruce Cleaver, the miner’s CEO at the time, presented lab-grown as a product that “may not be forever, but is perfect for right now,” claimed there was “no real emotional value in lab-grown diamonds, because they’re not unique,” and said the stones did not warrant grading. It later debuted the Finest line, introduced stones larger than 1 carat, and started declaring the cut quality, color and clarity of its stones.


IGI Sees Largest a Lab-Grown Diamond

India-based Ethereal Green Diamond has created and sold the largest polished lab-grown diamond in history, according to the International Gemological Institute (IGI), which graded it.

Named Shiphra, the emerald-cut, 50.25-carat, type IIa stone has G color, VS2 clarity, and an “excellent” score for cut, polish and symmetry, IGI said Thursday. It measures 22.95 x 18.45 x 11.57 millimeters. It’s the world’s first polished lab-grown diamond above 50 carats, IGI claimed.

Ethereal grew the 150-carat rough using the chemical vapor deposition (CVD) method over a period of eight months. It cut the stone in Surat, India, and will display the polished at its JCK Las Vegas booth. Swiss brand Shiphra Jewelry has bought it and lent its name to the piece.

“This gemstone is a paradigm-shifting breakthrough, surpassing 50 carats while exemplifying preeminent standards of sophistication and quality,” said Tehmasp Printer, president and managing director of IGI India.

The record comes shortly after IGI graded its largest lab-grown diamond to date: A 35-carat CVD stone that Maitri Lab Grown Diamonds produced. Last month, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) said it had examined a 34.59-carat diamond that Ethereal synthesized using the same method.


Adam O’Grady Becomes Lightbox’s First COO

Adam O’Grady

Lightbox has promoted Adam O’Grady to the newly created role of chief operating officer, effective March 27.

The executive will lead all aspects of supply chain and manufacturing activity for the De Beers-owned lab-grown diamond company, it said last week. These include diamond synthesis and jewelry manufacturing, cutting and polishing, and research and development.

O’Grady has been general manager of the Lightbox lab since 2019. In addition to his new responsibilities, he will continue to oversee operations and engineering at the company’s advanced manufacturing lab in Gresham, Oregon, where he is based.

“He is a transformational leader with deep knowledge of the lab-grown diamond category,” said Lightbox CEO Antoine Borde.

Prior to joining Lightbox, O’Grady spent his two-decade professional career at Element Six, De Beers’ industrial super-materials and synthetic-diamond business. He served in a series of general management and senior project roles in South Africa, China and the UK. In 2019, he oversaw the design and construction of Lightbox’s $94 million manufacturing lab in Gresham, which opened in October 2020.


Will Laboratory grown diamonds take over the market ?

As of 2021 the laboratory-grown diamond trade market was estimated to be worth around $1.9 billion, according to a report by Frost & Sullivan.

This market is expected to grow significantly in the coming years, with some estimates suggesting that it could reach a value of over $15 billion by 2035.

laboratory-grown diamond trade has been growing steadily in recent years. There are several factors driving this growth.

Price: Laboratory-grown diamonds are typically less expensive than natural diamonds, which makes them an attractive option for consumers who are looking for high-quality jewelry at a more affordable price.

Ethical concerns: Some consumers are hesitant to purchase natural diamonds due to concerns about ethical issues such as conflict diamonds. Laboratory-grown diamonds are considered to be a more ethical alternative, as they are produced in a controlled environment and do not have the same potential ethical issues as natural diamonds.

Environmental concerns: The process of mining natural diamonds can have a significant environmental impact. Laboratory-grown diamonds are generally considered to be more environmentally friendly, as they do not require mining.

Advancements in technology: The technology used to produce laboratory-grown diamonds has improved significantly in recent years, making it easier and more cost-effective to produce high-quality diamonds.
All of these factors have contributed to the growth of the laboratory-grown diamond trade, and it is expected to continue to grow in the coming years.

The answer is not yet: It is worth noting that natural diamonds still hold a significant share of the diamond market, and it remains to be seen how much of an impact laboratory-grown diamonds will have on the industry as a whole over the next decade.

Source: Michael Cohen DCLA

What is the difference between a natural mined diamond and a laboratory grown diamond?

Laboratory grown rough diamond type 2A carbon crystal.

The main difference between a natural mined diamond and a laboratory grown diamond is their origin. Natural diamonds are formed deep within the Earth’s mantle under extreme heat and pressure over millions of years, while laboratory grown diamonds are created in a controlled environment in a laboratory setting.
Some other differences between natural mined diamonds and laboratory grown diamonds include:

  1. Cost: Laboratory grown diamonds are generally less expensive than natural mined diamonds, as they don’t require expensive mining and extraction processes.
  2. Clarity: Laboratory grown diamonds are generally more consistent in terms of their clarity, as they are grown under controlled conditions. Natural mined diamonds can have inclusions or blemishes, which can affect their clarity and value.
  3. Size and Colour: Laboratory grown diamonds can be grown to larger sizes and in a wider range of colours, which may not be as easily available in natural mined diamonds.
  4. Environmental impact: The environmental impact of laboratory grown diamonds is generally considered to be lower than that of natural mined diamonds, as mining can have a significant impact on the environment.
  5. Rarity and Value: Natural mined diamonds are still considered more rare and valuable than laboratory grown diamonds, due to their long history and cultural significance.
    Ultimately, whether someone chooses a natural mined diamond or a laboratory grown diamond may depend on their personal preferences and priorities, such as environmental concerns, budget, or the desire for a natural, unique stone.

It is worth noting that both natural mined diamonds and laboratory grown diamonds are chemically and physically identical, and both can be certified and graded by independent gemmological laboratories based on the same criteria.

Source: Roy Cohen DCLA

Industry-Insider Rapaport Lashes Out Against Lab-Grown Diamonds To No Avail

Lab-Grown Diamonds

Martin Rapaport recently released an incendiary memo to the diamond and jewelry industry calling on them to stop doing business in lab-grown diamonds (LGD), which he characterized as “synthetic” and “fraudulent.”

He also claimed those selling LGD were “operating dishonestly and unethically” and trading short-term opportunities at the expense of those that are “certain and sustainable.”

Rapaport is the ultimate industry insider, and there’s no question about which side his bread is buttered on. As chairman of The Rapaport Group, his company is a portal for information about and services to the diamond industry, including the Rapaport Price List, which it claims is the industry’s primary source for diamond price and market information, and an online diamond trading network, RapNet.

In a request for comment, a Rapaport representative shared the memo but added no additional comment.

Rapaport wrote:

“The greatest challenge facing the diamond trade is greed. Our trade is willfully destroying the underlying value of diamonds as a store of value through the marketing, promotion and sale of synthetic diamonds as a replacement for natural diamonds”

And he added, “Essentially, the diamond industry is trading short-term, unsustainable profits for the reputation of diamonds as a store of value.”

Then he went further, “Many – if not most – in our trade are operating dishonestly and unethically by failing to make full disclosure about the value retention of synthetic diamonds.”

And his memo concluded, “The Rapaport Group does not facilitate the sale of synthetic diamonds in any way. We believe they are a fraudulent product because of how they are sold. They are also a threat to the fundamental message of diamonds.”

This memo followed a submission to the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) in December 2021, where he pointed to Zales, James Allen, Jared, Diamond Direct (all Signet brands) and Brilliant Earth as not providing full disclosure about the LGD jewelry they sell. “Consumer expectations are not being managed honestly by unethical retailers,” he claimed.

According to lawyer Milton Springut, partner at Moses Singer, Rapaport’s disparaging and potentially injurious claims against lab-grown diamonds and the parties who do business in them probably don’t violate federal or state liability laws.

But Rapaport’s words are ill-chosen, and his claims are without merit, according to experts I spoke with.

Synthesized But No Less Real
Lab-grown diamonds may be synthetic, as in made by man, but they are just as “real” as a natural diamond, as defined by the FTC. A diamond, no matter its origin is “a mineral consisting essentially of pure carbon crystallized in the isometric system. It is found in many colors. Its hardness is 10; its specific gravity is approximately 3.52; and it has a refractive index of 2.42.”

While lab-growns that meet the above criteria can be labeled as a “diamond,” the FTC also ruled that their man-made origin must be clearly disclosed.

So it requires marketers must precede the word “diamond” with “equal conspicuousness” such words as “‘laboratory-grown,’ ‘laboratory-created,’ ‘[manufacturer name]-created,’ or some other word or phrase of like meaning, so as to disclose clearly the nature of the product and the fact it is not a mined gemstone.”

It took a little while for some involved to find their footing under the new FTC guidelines, but now it seems all companies and retailers trading in lab growns have gotten on board and clearly, responsibly and honestly disclose the man-made, laboratory-grown origins of their stones.

That’s why Rapaport’s word choice of “synthetic” is over the line, implying that lab-grown diamonds are “simulants,” on the order of CZs or moissanite that may have a diamond-look, but are distinctly different in their physical properties and chemical composition.

“It’s an intentionally pejorative term because he is desperately trying to hold on to the tradition of mined diamonds,” said Marty Hurwitz, founder of market-research firm MVI Marketing LLC (THE MVEye) that specializes in the gem, jewelry and watch industries since 1987.

“One could argue using the term ‘synthetic’ may cause harm to lab-grown businesses, but it is clear that people who use the word are using it in a denigrating fashion,” he continued.

Hurwitz also notes the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), a non-profit educational and research organization that is the industry’s primary source for grading stones, doesn’t use the term “synthetic” any longer. It provided a limited grading program for lab-grown diamonds since 2007, then expanded and elevated it in 2020 as LGDs gained more industry and consumer acceptance.

GIA’s chief executive Susan Jacques described its decision as the natural evolution of the diamond market.

“We are responding to consumer demand,” she stated. “We want to make sure that consumers are educated, that we can protect their trust in the gem and jewelry industry as well as the products they are buying. As consumers adopt this new category, it’s important that we evolve with the new consumer.”

Value Is In The Meaning
Rapaport’s rage against lab-grown diamonds seems to hinge on the fact that having an equivalent competing product in the market is causing the price of mined diamonds to fall. That’s the natural economic law of supply and demand.

And given that the prices of lab-grown diamonds are steadily falling, it is putting downward pricing pressure on mined diamonds too, reports diamond industry analyst Edahn Golan, though mined diamonds are experiencing a more moderate decline.

Then Rapaport goes one step further to claim that a mined diamond is a repository or “store of value” and that retaining, even increasing, its monetary value over time is part of the promise with purchase. This is patently false, both Hurwitz and Golan affirm.

“There is limited to no investment value in diamonds,” Hurwitz said. “Some categories of mined diamonds are investment grade and go up in value, but most diamonds depreciate faster than a car leaving the showroom. The average consumer has been fed a marketing myth, the greatest marketing story ever told. Most consumers never find out the truth because they don’t resell their diamonds.”

Golan added that jewelers have perpetuated the myth by offering a trade-in, so a purchaser of a $2,000 diamond ring can get that back in credit if they return to purchase a bigger, more expensive stone.

“I’m hearing the big trend in America now is for people who want to upgrade their engagement ring decide to keep their original stone and have it made into something else, like a pendant,” he said.

People hold onto their stone because of its sentimental, symbolic value, which is where the actual value lies, as Warren Buffett said, “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”

DeBeers tried to equate the two with its rule that a man should pay two-to-three months’ salary on an engagement ring. But ironically, that’s turned back on the industry because, with a lab grown, he can buy a bigger, more impressive stone that speaks even louder of his love for her when he pops the question.

Nothing Unethical, Fraudulent Or Dishonest Selling Lab Growns
Rapaport goes too far when he suggests that there is something unethical, fraudulent or dishonest in selling lab-grown diamonds.

“The idea that diamonds are a store of value is a fundamental component of diamond demand. Consumers are being misled by retailers who sell man-made diamonds without full disclosure. The default assumption among consumers is that man-made diamonds will appreciate over time, even though the opposite is true,” he stated in his RJC filing.

One could argue that what is unethical, fraudulent and dishonest is suggesting that a mined diamond retains, even grows in monetary value.

“Rapaport is thinking like a diamond trader. Trading prices move up and down with the market. When they go up, it’s good; when they go down, it’s bad,” Golan said, noting that the increasing availability and consumer demand for lab growns is moving the needle for mined diamonds in the wrong direction.

Unlike traders, retailers think about cash flow, margins and turns. And this is where lab-grown diamonds have the edge.

“Jewelry stores hold loose diamonds on hand and the margins on loose natural diamonds is around 36%, while the margin for LGD was 54% at the end of December. And if it takes a retailer a year to sell a mined stone, but it only averages seven months to sell a lab-grown, a retailer will make more money at the end of the year,” Golan explained.

Hurwitz rhetorically asks, “Should we tell the consumers who are walking into our stores asking for lab-growns to go away? Should we say, ‘We don’t want to sell you this product that means incredibly high margins and profits for us and incredibly high value to you?’”

Retailers that trade in lab-growns are transparent and honest about the origin of their stones. The FTC requires it. There is nothing unethical, fraudulent or dishonest for a retailer to sell a customer what they want at the price they want to pay and to make money in the process.

“Half the diamonds are sold in the United States, and 50% of the business in the United States is bridal. The natural diamond industry is losing a chunk of that ‘Holy Grail’ to lab growns. The industry has to adapt to the changing world. It’s a combination of a cultural and business change that are driving each other,” Golan shared.

Can’t Turn Back The Clock
“Rapaport has a tremendous self-interest in seeing the mined diamond business continue to thrive,” observed Hurwitz. “He’s trying to ensure that things never change. He wants to hold onto the tradition, but that’s futile.”

While Rapaport may be trying to valiantly to save the mined diamond industry, he may be doing more harm than good.

“The good news for the lab-grown diamond industry is that he appears to be going off the rails in his attacks, and as a result, fewer and fewer people are listening to him,” Hurwitz said.

“There is a consumer revolution happening because of lab-grown diamonds. As an industry, we must embrace the change and give consumers a choice.” he continued.

“Rapaport just wants to tell everybody that this product is good and that is bad. But the only voice that matters is the consumer. And the consumer is organically and very virally embracing this new product.”

Source: Pamela N. Danziger