After shocking the market with a decision to start selling jewellery containing synthetic diamonds, Anglo American’s De Beers is planning to let buyers refuse some lower-quality stones.
The unusual move (the world’s No.1 diamond miner is famous for requiring buyers to take what’s offered) says lots about the state of the low-end diamond market. The last time De Beers did something similar, in fact, was two years ago, when India’s move to ban high-value currency notes pushed down demand.
The diamond giant’s new strategy for small stones, paired with its looming entry into the lab-grown stones market, have many in the industry worrying about prices.
A 1-carat synthetic sells for roughly $4,000, about half the price of a natural diamond. De Beers new lab gems, to hit the market this month, will sell for around $800 a carat.
Cheaper diamonds, which are often small and low quality, are selling for a lot less now than five years ago. And when it comes to synthetic stones, De Beers’ entry in the market will create a big price gap between mined and lab diamonds, pressuring rivals that specialize in synthesized stones at the same time.
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. That’s a fifth of the price of existing man-made stones and one-tenth of the cost of buying a similar natural gem.
No wonder competitors are worried. The lab-grown industry has filed a complaint with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, accusing De Beers of price dumping and predatory pricing.
They did so even though the government body recently amended its jewellery guides...