It appears that De Beers has spotted the writing on the wall in an increasingly crowded lab-grown diamond market.
The diamond behemoth has begun testing engagement rings under its lab-grown subsidiary, Lightbox, after years of avoiding the category. It is understood that the company had long tried to maintain natural diamonds’ position as engagement ring stones, while attempting to silo lab-grown diamonds as fashion jewelry.
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De Beers established Lightbox in 2018 in order to help steer the lab-grown diamond narrative. It set a strict per-carat pricing model for the stones (pro-rated at $800 per carat, regardless of the stone’s size or color) in an attempt to lead the industry’s treatment of lab diamonds.
As newly instated Lightbox chief executive officer Antoine Borde told WWD earlier this month, the company is focused on designs intended for self-purchasing and personal expression.
“We are pursuing the positioning of the brand around fashion, freedom, fun — it’s a good dynamic that we are seeing this happen,” Borde said.
Since its launch Lightbox had sold loose lab-grown stones that could be set as engagement rings, but the company had never sold ready-made engagement rings as part of its own distribution.
Now as more and more players enter the lab-grown arena, it appears that De Beers and Lightbox had little choice but to test the engagement category.
The company’s website has launched a limited series of 16 solitaire rings — all priced at $5,000 or less, with the average hovering around $2,500. They are offered with stones from one to two carats and come in settings that range from very simple gold bands to more elaborate halo styles, set alongside smaller pavé lab-grown stones.
Borde said in a statement: “As part of Lightbox’s promise to bring transparency to lab-grown diamonds, we are running a small in-market test of consumer preferences in the lab-grown diamond engagement ring segment. Throughout the test the Lightbox proposition will remain consistent to what it has always been — a high-quality product that is accessibly priced, with clear information that supports consumer confidence.
“We are undertaking the test now to better understand more about consumer interest in lab-grown diamond engagement rings, and to better understand how Lightbox’s offering of clear information and accessible prices resonates in this segment. Once the test is complete, we will analyze the learnings before deciding on next steps.”
Earlier this month, Lightbox revealed that its stones — including their production process — were certified carbon neutral.
At the time, Borde said: “We are not in the comparison of natural versus lab-grown stones. We are seeing the market evolve because consumers are more educated on lab grown and more aware and conscious of quality and the nature of the product. Lightbox has the position of very competitive and transparent pricing for high-quality stones that are now made with 100 percent renewable energy.”
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