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Anglo American’s De Beers shocked the diamond market on Tuesday by announcing it will start selling jewellery containing man-made diamonds rather than precious stones recovered from the ground, for the first time in its 130-year history.

The historic shift for the world’s No.1 diamond producer, which vowed never to sell synthetic stones, will begin in the US in September. There the lab-made gems will be  marketed through Lightbox, a fashion jewellery brand, which will sell them for a fraction of the price of real rocks.

The strategy will create a big price gap between mined and lab diamonds and pressure rivals that specialize in synthesized stones. A 1-carat man-made diamond sells for about $4,000 and a similar natural diamond fetches roughly $8,000. De Beers new lab diamonds will sell for about $800 a carat.

More to come…

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