The lab-grown diamond industry has had a relatively idyllic existence in recent years. Demand continued to rise, especially in the United States, as the industry benefitted from increased consumer acceptability and all of the factors that bolstered the sector during the COVID-19 epidemic. Yes, lab-grown prices continued to decline, but in some cases, manufacturing costs also fell, and because total demand was higher, most participants still profited. As a result, an increasing number of people entered the industry.
Even as the US economy begins to slow, it appears that demand is continuing to rise. Breitling and Blue Nile have recently embraced lab-grown, and Swarovski and Pandora have expanded their fashion-oriented lab-grown lines. There is evidence that lab-grown diamonds are stealing market share from natural diamonds, a sector with its own issues.
Even in a market where price cuts are usual, the lab-grown discounts this year have been extremely severe, especially when one prominent manufacturer reduced their preliminary costs. It's increasingly typical to hear merchants, particularly those dealing in "tinged" items, promote diamonds for 95% or 96% off the Rapaport list. (At the same time, rap prices are plummeting.) One exhibitor at JCK Las Vegas even marketed 1 carat lab-growns for 100% off Rap (free), stating he would profit on the mounting.
While wholesale price declines have exceeded retail price drops, retail prices are also falling. Price competition from internet merchants, which has harmed the natural diamond market for small stores, is now beginning to harm the lab sector as well. Lightbox, the one major lab-grown merchant that has not decreased its costs, has remained committed to its $800-per-carat pricing plan, which was first criticised as being too low. There is a broad agreement that there are far too many individuals in the lab-grown diamond sector, both growing and trading, and that this must change.
"We're witnessing big industry shakeouts," says Lindsay Reinsmith, cofounder and sales director at Ada Diamonds, a lab-grown store that recently closed a Series A fundraising round. "Many farmers who entered the space in the previous 18 months have ran out of money and are fire selling to get out." The panic selling is out of control, but perhaps this implies that many producers are getting out." According to Ben Hakman, an industry expert and creator of Fire Diamonds, although the established companies will be "fine," some of the newbies may be on their way out.
"It takes time to fine-tune your output." The majority of CVD on the market is of poor quality. The stones are grey, brownish, and pink in colour. Retailers lost faith in the product, and the entire industry has devolved into a memo business." According to Hakman, some new dealers are also suffering. "Companies like Quality Gold and Green Rocks have over ten years of industry contacts," he explains. "However, many of the new players lack that." So they entered the game, purchased goods, and the price has decreased since they purchased them. They're making a loss."
According to Stanley Wong, a Hong Kong-based lab diamond consultant, "with the cloud hovering over the US economy and Rapaport prices decreasing, the lab industry has turned into tulip-mania." "I get lists of diamonds, and they become longer and longer, and the prices go cheaper and cheaper." Demand is not increasing at the same rate as farmers are increasing capacity." Wong feels a gentle landing is conceivable, but the lab industry's perspective must be reconsidered. "Lab diamonds are not a luxury item," he claims. "The very idea of affordable luxury is an oxymoron." Continuing to ride on the coattails of natural business does not work. The value proposition of lab-grown will never be the same.
"What the lab-grown business needs is some cohesiveness," adds Wong. "An ecosystem is required to support the lab-grown firm, which views itself as a global corporation with its own distinctive selling offer and story." You wish to discuss happiness and delight. Because lab-grown diamonds are less costly, there is greater space for design and cutting innovation." Wong, on the other hand, claims that the company is currently on autopilot. That is risky. "Growers act as if they own a bakery, and they can't stop producing." However, they are not producing of high quality. You are not a master baker simply because you own an oven. And no one wants their bread.”