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Lightbox Jewelry To Be Rolled Out to Retailers Within Next Two Years

The consumer launch was more successful than anticipated.

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LAS VEGAS — A year after De Beers rocked the JCK Las Vegas show by introducing Lightbox, its own lab-grown diamond jewelry, Lightbox managing director Steve Coe returned to the show with the news that the consumer launch was more successful than anticipated.

Lightbox pieces, which are lab-grown diamonds set in accessibly priced fashion jewelry, have been sold since September online and in pop-up shops.

Coe announced that he expects to begin market testing the brand in retail stores later this year. After the company’s $94 million plant in Gresham, OR goes online in 2020, production will increase and the brand will be offered to a broad range of retailers by 2021. Color offerings and jewelry-design styles will likely be expanded as well.

Coe says extensive consumer research has backed up the De Beers belief that laboratory-grown diamonds are best suited as fashion accessories for everyday wear, and not for significant occasions, such as engagement, for which consumers say they prefer natural diamonds.

In keeping with this philosophy, Lightbox does not plan to manufacture lab-grown diamonds that are larger than 1 carat. Lightbox jewelry will continue to be priced from $200 to $1,000 with a set price of $800 per carat. Settings are an additional $100 for sterling silver or $200 for 10K gold. De Beers currently offers Lightbox lab-grown diamonds in light pink and blue as well as in white. Although consumers surveyed by De Beers do initially seem confused when asked about lab-grown diamonds, continuing research has found they also are open-minded about purchasing them.

Lightbox surveys indicate that 98 percent of women are satisfied with the purchase once they own them. Young women are open to lab-grown diamonds, but are willing to pay more of a premium price for natural diamonds. The purchase of Lightbox jewelry is considered to be in the same category as a handbag or a premium pair of sneakers, Coe says.

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Email has been the best driver of sales; it tends to hasten conversion and lead to repeat purchases. Ten percent of shoppers who make a purchase have returned to make a second. Consumer conversion to purchase has been very rapid and more like the speed at which shoppers choose to purchase cosmetics and accessories than fine jewelry.

Currently, the biggest sellers are 1 carat solitaire earrings.

Coe also addressed general industry concerns on the topic of laboratory-grown diamonds.

TRANSPARENCY: De Beers laser inscribes each of its lab-grown diamonds of .2 carat size and larger, and would encourage other manufacturers to do the same.

GRADING: De Beers does not grade lab-grown gems because, Coe says, each manufactured diamond is of the same consistently high quality. He compared them to cars that come off a production line. Why would one be considered “better” than another if all of them are built under the same conditions?

TREATMENT: Although Lightbox lab-created diamonds are not treated beyond the process it takes to make them, De Beers takes the position that if a lab-grown diamond is treated to enhance its color, that treatment does not need to be disclosed. “This is nonsense,” he says. “This is a manufactured product. Color treatment is just another stage in the production process.”

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PRICING: Pricing structure is and should be very different than the pricing of natural diamonds, Coe says. Lightbox’s pricing simply reflects the cost of making them. “With natural diamonds, you have to take what nature gives you, so of course, larger stones are much more valuable than smaller,” he says. Among lab grown diamonds, a 1 carat lab grown is not more rare than a half carat. Either can be made to order. But the cost of producing a 1 carat lab grown diamond is roughly twice the cost of producing a half carat lab grown diamond, so that is how Lightbox determined its $800 per carat pricing structure.

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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