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Consumers Will Determine the Future of Lab-Grown Diamonds, Panelists Say

The comments came during the Jewelers of America National Convention in New York.

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NEW YORK — While the jewelry industry remains polarized on the issue of lab-grown diamonds, Sally Morrison, chief marketing officer for Lightbox Jewelry, says company research has shown that consumers are generally open minded about them, particularly in their role as fashion jewelry.

Morrison spoke as part of a panel discussion during the Jewelers of America National Convention in New York this week on the topic of “Disrupting the Marketplace: Opportunities & Challenges of Selling Lab-Grown Diamonds. She was joined on the panel by Stanley Zale, vice president, diamonds and gemstones procurement at Stuller, and Peter Englehart, director of business development and sales for Atelier Swarovski Fine Jewelry.

De Beers rocked the jewelry industry during the 2018 JCK Las Vegas show by introducing Lightbox, its own lab-grown diamond jewelry for sale at $800 retail for a carat. Lightbox pieces, which are lab-grown diamonds set in accessibly priced fashion jewelry, have been sold since September 2018 online and in pop-up shops.

Morrison acknowledges that the price of this product will slide as the technology improves, comparing it to flat-screen TVs.  “We should expect the technology to get more efficient and therefore cheaper. We pitched our brand at $800 a carat because we thought that was sustainable for a while, not necessarily forever,” she says.

Morrison, responding to a question, said Lightbox did not launch its fashion jewelry collection to disrupt the market for the sake of disruption. “We think at $800 a carat we can build a very robust, profitable business,” she says.

During initial trading in the fourth quarter of 2018, demand exceeded expectations, particularly demand for the blue and pink color options. “It’s going better than we expected,” she says. “Demand is out there, and people want innovation. Lightbox should be a beacon of what lab-grown diamonds should be about – fun and fashion.”

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After Lightbox’s $94 million plant in Gresham, OR, goes online in 2020, the brand will be offered to retailers. Color offerings and setting styles will likely be expanded as well. Morrison says by then, Lightbox will be producing upwards of 200,000 carats of polished lab-grown supply.

Zale says the overall demand for them will likely be closer to 2 million carats.

Lightbox still has no plans to enter the engagement market with lab grown diamonds, she said.

Englehart says Atelier Swarovski has found acceptance across mid-market as well as high-end retailers for loose, lab-grown diamonds curated and sold by Swarovski and bought from a variety of suppliers.

“That business is expanding dramatically,” he says. “It was much more difficult at the beginning. We faced a lot of resistance. But I trust retailers to understand their consumer. Ultimately it’s going to be the consumer who is going to vote on it and it’s up to us whether we want to participate or not.”

Zale says Stuller sees lab-grown diamonds as an opportunity for the industry at large to grow. “We’re there to meet market demand and aren’t going to sit in judgment of how someone chooses to adorn themselves with jewelry, as long as it’s legal and is disclosed. We’re in the jewelry business and we’re not necessarily in the diamond business.”

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Zale says that as far as buying any kind of diamond for investment, natural diamonds are not rising in value, either. “I’m not comfortable with us, as an industry, representing diamonds as an investment,” Zale says. “The paradigm of diamonds increasing in value changed about 10 years ago. There’s no guarantee when you wake up tomorrow morning that they will be worth more than they are today.”

Chuck Kuba, owner of Iowa Diamond in West Des Moines, IA, who attended the presentation, says his younger customers, ages 21-26, are mired in college-loan debt, and as a result, marriage licenses in Iowa are down 14 percent. It’s market demand that will determine what he is able to sell. “Customers control my business,” he says. “I can suggest things but it’s their decision and their money, as long as I’m being honest. It’s going to be a hell of a ride.”

Eileen McClelland is the Managing Editor of INSTORE. She believes that every jewelry store has the power of cool within them.

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Tiffany Rolls Out Men’s Jewelry Collection

The line is ‘centered on craftsmanship as the foundation of our company.’

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Tiffany & Co. announced the launch of its Tiffany Men’s collections, including jewelry, watches and home and accessories products.

Tiffany Men’s includes two collections: Tiffany 1837 Makers and Diamond Point.

These pieces are from the Tiffany & Co.’s men’s collection. Photo: Roe Etheridge

“Tiffany Men’s is centered on craftsmanship as the foundation of our company,” said Reed Krakoff, chief artistic officer for Tiffany. “Tiffany 1837 Makers is a nod to the workmanship and time-honored techniques used in creating jewelry — the idea that there’s a person behind each object.”

According to a press release:

Embodying Tiffany’s craftsmanship heritage, the Tiffany 1837 Makers collection is inspired by the jeweler’s hollowware workshop and its tradition of handcrafting sports trophies. Designers experimented with concave and convex forms, flat edges and motifs evocative of utilitarian hardware when creating jewelry, barware and more. Stamped with symbols like “T & CO MAKERS,” “NY” and “AG925,” Tiffany 1837 Makers honors Tiffany’s silversmithing legacy and the fact that the luxury house set the U.S. standard for sterling silver (925 per 1,000 parts silver). The made-to-order Tiffany 1837 Makers trophy ring honors Tiffany’s 160-history of making sports trophies by hand and makes a bold statement and adds edge to any outfit.

Diamond Point, on the other hand, “represents the elevated, classic end of the style spectrum with a strong, graphic pattern.”

The company states:

This motif appears as a subtle accent or a prominent overlay on jewelry and Home & Accessories pieces like the Diamond Point rectangle pendant in sterling silver, cuff in sterling silver and cocktail mixer in lead crystal and sterling silver. Most of the Diamond Point jewelry designs are die struck and hand polished to achieve the distinctive textured motif.

Diamond Point takes a more modern and graphic approach, utilizing a pattern inspired by a diamond’s culet that ties back to our diamond authority.

The New York Post reports that the launch is “part of the Tiffany’s strategy to attract younger shoppers and pump up sales.”

In all, Tiffany Men’s includes about 100 pieces. Jewelry rices range from $200 to $15,000.

Among the accessories items on offer are ice tongs and cocktail shakers.

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Jeweler Sentenced for Theft, Ordered to Pay $85,000 in Restitution

He’ll have to serve 4 years of probation.

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A Colorado jeweler who was accused with stealing gold, jewelry and money from customers has been ordered to pay restitution and serve a probationary sentence.

David Kushnir, who operated D & D Jewelers in Thornton, pleaded guilty to theft, KMGH-TV reports. He was accused of stealing from nine customers, according to the news outlet.

The court ordered Kushnir to pay about $85,000 in restitution and serve four years of economic crime supervised probation.

In January, authorities accused Kushnir of defrauding customers after they brought their diamonds, watches and other jewelry to him for repair or consignment sale at his business. It was also alleged that he sold fake diamonds to three victims.

The Sentinel newspaper reported in January that in one case, he was accused of removing a movement piece worth $40,000 from a Rolex watch he was asked to repair and then substituting “a Chinese piece.”

Read more at KMGH-TV

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Pandora to Buy Back $75M in Jewelry from Retailers

The effort is part of a broader restructuring program.

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Pandora plans to buy back about $75 million in jewelry from retailers.

The idea is to help retailers avoid holding onto stock for too long, Rapaport News reports.

The repurchased inventory will be smelted, with new jewelry to be made from the material.

Rapaport reports that the program will be rolled out in “select global markets.”

The effort is part of a broader Pandora restructuring program expected to cost the company over $224 million.

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The plan comes as Pandora prepares for a brand relaunch that will kick off Aug. 28 in Los Angeles.

At the event, the company “will reveal its new company purpose, brand expression and visual identity, and show the Autumn 2019 collection.”

Read more at Rapaport News

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