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“Our goal is to bring clarity to the offering of Lab Grown Diamonds”, asserts Chris Casey, President, Lab Grown Diamond Council

08 july 2019

chris_casey_xx.pngChris Casey is a 15-year veteran of the diamond and jewelry industry. Chris also has extensive experience in market research as Founding Managing Director of the NPD Diamond and Diamond Jewelry Service where his responsibility included the development of a retail panel of 4,000 doors contributing total transactional history used to drive detailed sell-in and sell-through analytics for the domestic US diamond market.

Prior to NPD, Chris was Vice President of the Nielsen Jewelry Group heading National Jeweler and Europa Star media properties as well as the Couture and JA New York Trade Shows. Prior to joining the jewelry industry, Chris managed trade media and research properties in the apparel and construction industries.

In an interview here with Rough & Polished, besides explaining the goals of the newly formed LGDC, Chris Casey believes clarity will help grow the LGD market and also benefit all players involved in Lab Grown Diamonds.

Some excerpts:

Can you educate our readers briefly about LGDs, to begin with… And what’s the reason for establishing Lab Grown Diamond Council (LGDC) now when lab-grown diamonds have been around for years?

Lab-Grown Diamonds are at their turning point in the market. For years, the market has been driven by continuous improvement on two fronts. The first was entrepreneurial efforts to grow higher quality goods. The second was a grass root effort to grow consumer awareness and acceptance of the goods. The market has now embraced Lab Grown Diamonds. This is evidenced by both the diversity of companies entering the supply side as well as the retailers, both large and small, now offering Lab Grown Diamonds. The time is now to capitalize on this momentum.

Again, for the benefit of the readers, tell us all about LGDC’s agenda, planned activities, its aim and future plans.

The LGDC agenda has been driven by the input of our Advisory Committee. We will focus on several key areas. The first is Education. This consists of both creating a common vocabulary for Lab Grown Diamonds as well as developing tools to disseminate accurate information regarding Lab Grown Diamonds to both the retail channel as well as consumers. The second is Research designed to measure actual retail sales performance of Lab Grown Diamonds as well as consumers attitudes about them. We are also pleased to announce a new initiative that focuses on the creation of a Sustainability Standard for Lab Grown Diamonds. We have retained SCS Global Services, an internationally recognized third-party certifier and standards developer, to create A Sustainability Mark. This consumer-focused mark will be geared toward point-of-sale messaging and advertising.

How many members have joined the council till today? Will the members include the whole pipeline… like producers, traders, wholesalers, retailers, etc.? Also, will the Council be confined just to the USA or will it be a global organization?

Membership to LGDC is open to the entire channel, from growers to retailers. As a new organization, our membership recruitment begins with the upcoming Las Vegas Shows.

Our intent is to serve the international market. Our development plan calls for the creation of a local presence in key markets in order to reflect the individual needs of those markets.

As President of LGDC, what will be the primary issue that you will be addressing to start with? With Diamond Exchanges in China, Dubai, etc., intending to begin trading in LGDs, will your promotional activities for LGDs pick up impetus too? What’s the plan?

Our goal is to bring clarity to the offering of Lab Grown Diamonds. This clarity begins with creating messaging regarding Lab Grown Diamonds that is concise and transparent. Our Sustainability Standard is an example. We believe it is this clarity that will help grow the market and benefit all players involved in Lab Grown Diamonds.

What is LGDC’s agenda for the long term? Will the Council work independently, as the International Grown Diamond Association (IGDA) is in the fray already? How will it play out eventually… in terms of promotional educational activities for the overall growth of LGDs?

We are clear on the mission of the LGDC. As a new organization, we will be establishing our working relationship with other organizations in the market.

What is LGDC’s reaction to FTC’s initial guidelines; and the subsequent amendments with regards to LGDs? So, is everything clear and settled regarding the issues with the natural diamond sector? Or are there more parameters to sort out for smooth running of both the sectors?

The Lab Grown Diamond Market is undergoing significant growth. One of the by-products of this growth is the need to address issues that arise as we grow. An example would be the clarification of grading expectations. Are “treatments” part of the growing process or are they post-production modifications? We are pulling together a committee of all market segments to discuss and create a position.

With renewed interest in LGDs by the consumers, particularly by the millennials world-over, do you feel that the LGD sector is here to stay? Where do you see the future of LGDs, going forward?

Lab Grown Diamonds are here to stay. They will continue to be a force in the market in two key areas:

a. They will continue to grow as an alternative to mined diamonds

b. They will create new quality/value jewellery categories that are set to expand the entire diamond market.

Do you see a future scenario where the LGDs as well as natural diamonds enjoying separate and distinct markets for themselves; and both the sectors survive and flourish without any clashes? Your thoughts?

There is a place for both mined and Lab Grown Diamonds in the market. Our mission is to maximize the place of Lab Grown Diamonds.

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