De Beers pleased with US directive on marketing laboratory-grown diamonds

Bruce Cleaver, CEO, De Beers

DE Beers, the diamond miner and marketer 85%-owned by Anglo American, said it was pleased with a notice issued by US Federal Trade Commission asking diamond producers to distinguish in advertising if their goods were naturally mined or laboratory grown.

Citing a warning letter issued to eight companies by the commission, Reuters said there were several instances where eight companies advertised diamond jewellery “… without clearly and conspicuously disclosing that the diamonds are laboratory-created”.

De Beers said it was pleased by the move, adding the two kinds of diamonds were “… distinct product categories”. De Beers has responded to the increase in the production of laboratory diamonds by producing a brand of its own, named Lightbox.

Bruce Cleaver, CEO of De Beers, said in February, that prices for laboratory diamonds had declined by as much as 60% after the launch of Lightbox which was evidence that the market was according a premium to naturally mined diamonds, produced under enormous pressures in the earth’s ancient volcanoes.

“We announced Lightbox in June and we sold our first diamond at the end of September; and we’ll only sell 20,000 carats in total by the end of 2019, before our facility in Oregon comes on-stream,” said Cleaver. “Since we started, the Lightbox offering has had a tremendously positive impact on price.

“At the wholesale level, prices [of the competitive product] have come down between 30% and 60% which is extraordinary given how little we’ve sold. So, I think there is already evidence that the positioning of the product as to what it should be – which is not a natural diamond – is already starting to be successful,” he added.

The Diamond Producers Association (DPA), which represents mining companies such as De Beers, Rio Tinto and Alrosa, welcomed the Federal Trade Commission’s insistence that companies distinguish between natural and ‘lab-grown diamonds’.

“The DPA has for several months expressed serious concerns about misleading marketing communication and unsubstantiated eco claims coming from many laboratory grown diamond marketers,” the DPA’s CEO Jean-Marc Lieberherr, said in a statement quoted by Reuters.