Looking for a diamond ring for your engagement? But are they too expensive? This is where 'lab-grown' diamonds may make a difference, and it is just this method that Dubai jeweller Damas is employing to woo clients.
"Lab-grown diamonds are gradually gaining customer acceptability, particularly among younger and fresher diamond purchasers," stated Luc Perramond, Chairman and CEO of Damas Jewellery. "If they have a lesser budget but still want a 1-carat diamond for their engagement, they may have one if they pick a lab-developed solitaire rather a mined one."
"Because they can acquire it for less than Dh10,000 from the collection we introduced last month, as opposed to Dh30,000 or Dh40,000 on a natural." In the last two years, a few UAE jewellers have been testing customer demand for precious stones created to a remarkably high grade previously solely associated with mined stones. Damas has been a pioneer in this area, with a specialised collection centred on what can be supplied from the lab.
Perramond has been key in Damas' decision to pursue this alternative since assuming the top posts little over two years ago. He recognises that gaining a sizable buyer base in the UAE and other Gulf countries, where the term "precious" is inextricably linked to gold and natural diamonds, will be difficult. "Lab-grown diamonds are highly developed in the United States, and while the Middle East shopper is still at an early level of acceptability, we are willing to wait the 5- or 10-year wait," he added.
"Lab-grown diamonds are highly developed in the United States, and while the Middle East shopper is still at an early level of acceptability, we are willing to wait the 5- or 10-year wait," he added. "I, for one, am convinced that this will grow into a significant category, that it will be a huge disruptor, and that we will continue to have two major collection releases per year."
Damas began their collection by establishing sourcing agreements with a few labs in California. The sourcing was then moved to India. "We will source from here in the UAE next year, with a handful of laboratories commencing operations," the CEO added. "We will not delve into the procedure on our own; it is better left to the specialists."
"The processes are quite particular, difficult, and include a large number of rejections." It takes 4-8 hours on average to make the 'rough' in the lab, with additional time spent on getting the cut correct and polishing. 3-4 months in total. We're not talking about mass production here.
The younger customer, who is less bound by history in their choices, would be drawn to lab created stones. Is it more harder to get through to certain customer demographics? "In fact, we are seeing acceptance across all client categories - there is extremely significant demand from South Asians to complement the enthusiasm from Arabs," he added. "With Western clientele, the procedure may be easier since they have been exposed to it." The most popular size is 1-2 carats, and they must have a lot of shine. The Damas collection of lab-grown stones has values that exceed Dh500,000.