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“Lab-Grown Diamonds is probably the biggest scam this industry has ever seen,”: Leibish Polnauer, Founder-President, Leibish & Co.

24 june 2019

leibish_polnauer_xx.pngAn interesting story from the Leibish & Co takes you way back to the year 1979 when young Leibish Polnauer, then a diamond polisher, was travelling to London, having just found out that the factory at which he worked had been shut down. He found an advertisement from the royal crown jeweler Garrard‘s seeking a 6-carat pear-shaped diamond. Next, Leibish made the phone call that would change his life forever. Garrard’s needed 80 pear-shaped diamonds in two weeks, and Leibish said that he would provide them though he did not have any stock of his own. Leibish Polnauer kept his promise to Garrad’s … so much for Leibish Polnauer’s entrepreneurship! And the rest, as they say, is history.

Now, about four decades later, Leibish Polnauer- Founder- President still steers Leibish & Co, which strives to be a premier supplier of natural Fancy Color diamonds in all colors, sizes, and price ranges.

Here, in an interview with Rough & Polished, Leibish Polnauer tells us his story, but also puts forth his views candidly about the industry… especially on lab-grown diamonds.

Some excerpts:

For the benefit of our readers, please elaborate on the company’s activities/products from inception to date. How did this business come about? Is it a family business or your own initiative?

Leibish & Co has been in business for about 40 years, now. I started as a polisher, then a factory manager. After that, I started my own business.

excl_17062019_1.pngToday, it is a family business, which I run with my wife and my five children. We have over 40 employees, worldwide.

Leibish & Co. specializes in natural fancy color diamonds and gemstones. We have offices in New York, Hong Kong and Tel Aviv. As an e-commerce company, the vast majority of our business is conducted through our website www.leibish.com. As the first online supplier of fancy color diamonds, we have been online for more than 20 years.

What is your company’s signature style? Can a jewellery connoisseur recognize a ‘Leibish piece’ by its unique characteristics? Do you also customize for your exclusive clients? Tell us more about your company’s cut/design that has made a mark for its exclusivity.

Leibish specializes in fine jewelry and manufacture the majority of our jewelry in-house. Each piece is handmade according to the customer's specification. We also have a collection of original Leibish Designs available online, including both preset jewelry and settings, which are customized to fit the center stone chosen. We have a returning customer rate of over 70% and have been serving both private individuals and members of the trade for more than 40 years. 

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Given that your company deals in mostly high-end white and color diamonds, from where do you source them? Which lab/s services do you use to certify your stones? Also, how important is legitimate sourcing for your company?

Leibish & Co. is committed to selling ethically sourced diamonds and complies with all regulations set by the Kimberly Process. All of our diamonds are guaranteed 100% natural and not treated or enhanced in any way. The majority of our pink diamonds are acquired from the Argyle Mine of Western Australia, while other colors are sourced from all over the world. In order to ensure that we offer our clients the highest quality, and rarest stones, our in-house GIA graduate gemologist, Shmulik Polnauer examines and handpicks every single stone that enters our inventory. Most of our diamonds are GIA certified, though some are certified by smaller, reputable labs as well. Of course, Argyle diamonds come with the Argyle certificate as well.

How do your clients perceive your rare color diamonds and jewelry collections…as an investment or pieces to be enjoyed? What are your marketing strategies?

We have a strong brand and internet presence.

Natural Fancy Color Diamonds have been performing well over the years, and are considered to be great for long-term investment. Aside from their investment potential, however, most of our clientele actually purchases our diamonds and jewelry, to wear and enjoy! A large percentage of our clients purchase diamonds for engagement rings and special anniversaries.

It's important to keep in mind that when looking for an investment grade diamond, not every stone is suitable. When it comes to investing, it's best to consult with our team of experts who are available to help you choose the right stone. You can also read a bit more about investing in pink diamonds here

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If you are dealing in entry-level diamond jewelry as well, what transformations have you seen of late in customers’ choice… in terms of diamond content, gold content, design, etc?

At Leibish, our primary focus is on quality and craftsmanship. We will never compromise on materials or workmanship.

What is the current demand situation globally for high-end white & color diamonds given that prices come with a premium? Analysts indicate that color is winning over white diamonds as an investment vehicle. Your take?

Color diamonds are rare and valuable and the supply is limited. The demand for pink diamonds, and Argyles, in particular, is very strong. With the Argyle mine scheduled to close in a year, we expect these goods to skyrocket in price.

LGDs are becoming popular by the day and with the sector promoting their produce as non-intrusive on the earth, pro-environmental etc., do you think the future of natural/mined diamonds is at stake?

excl_17062019_4.pngLab-Grown Diamonds is probably the biggest scam this industry has ever seen. I have written extensively about this topic, and my articles are available on our website. Once the diamond industry picks up once again, LGD will be history. As our clientele is selective and high-end, we have not encountered any problem or competition with regards to LGD at all.

Finally, according to industry observers, the diamond industry’s future is in trouble as no new diamond mines have been discovered of late. Also, with some mines at the closing stage, what will be the position of the global diamond industry going forward?

Diamonds are Forever- but currently undervalued. The moment prices will start to go up once again, the mood of the industry will improve dramatically.

Aruna Gaitonde, Editor in Chief of the Asian Bureau, Rough & Polished