WDC urges extreme caution when exporting diamonds from CAR

The World Diamond Council (WDC) says the diamond industry should carry out enhanced due diligence when considering the purchase of goods believed to be emanating from the Central African Republic (CAR).

05 march 2021

BlueRock raises £1.5 mln to complete expansion project at Kareevlei

BlueRock Diamonds has raised £1.5 million through an oversubscribed subscription of 3,75 million new ordinary shares for 40 pence per share.

05 march 2021

Hong Kong’s jewellery retail sales dip 31.7% in January 2021

Due to the fourth wave of COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong, jewellery sales in the city dipped by 31.7 per cent in January 2021, but the pace of decline had eased slightly, as per the government data.

05 march 2021

Rio Tinto to see Board changes after forthcoming AGMs

Rio Tinto Chairman Simon Thompson has informed the Board that he will not seek re-election as a non-executive director at the 2022 Annual General Meetings of Rio Tinto plc and Rio Tinto. Sam Laidlaw, a senior independent director of Rio Tinto plc, and...

05 march 2021

RZM Murowa earmarks $450 mln to expand Zim operations

RZM Murowa (formerly Murowa Diamonds), a subsidiary of RioZim is set to invest $450 million to expand its operations in the Midlands Province, Zimbabwe, according to the state media.

04 march 2021

‘By democratizing luxury, lab-grown diamonds are heading towards opening the widest consumer base globally the diamond industry has ever experienced’, asserts Amish Shah, President, ALTR Created Diamonds

22 february 2021

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amish_shah_xx.pngA third-generation diamantaire, Amish Shah, President of ALTR Created Diamonds and pioneer of the lab-grown diamond market has never been afraid to challenge the status quo.

After gaining experience, through his family business in the diamond industry and fine jewelry at an early age, Amish joined R & R Grosbard Inc. in New York in 2001 and helped transform it into an international powerhouse.

Ten years later, Amish took over its operations and led a merger with his family business, conceiving R A Riam Group Inc. in New York, which includes ALTR Created Diamonds. As the only vertically-integrated diamond enterprise that provides a true end-to-end product, ALTR creates the purest form of diamonds --- type-IIa diamonds --- known to man.

Here, in an exclusive Interview with Rough&Polished, Amish Shah tells the Lab-Grown Diamond story with elan…

Some excerpts…

Though Lab-Grown Diamonds (LGDs) have been around for a long time now, the recent spurt in the growth looks like LGDs are here to stay. Your opinion?

Consumer acceptance drives the growth of any technological innovation. While the core of this technology was born in 1951, it took over 6 decades to bring gem-quality lab-grown diamonds to the market. Post their introduction to the consumer in 2016, education became the single most powerful driver that drove the desire for them. This was further accelerated after July 2018 when the Federal Trade Commission in the United States passed a ruling that a diamond grown above the earth and found below the earth are both diamonds. This ruling gave a strong booster to consumer confidence and removal of all skeptics within the trade. While the trade community was slow to accept this innovation, the consumer demand increased faster reaching a market share today of over 2 billion dollars.

Today's consumer is conscious about the products they consume and want experiences that synchronize with their values. Lab-Grown diamonds have risen above the hesitation and cloud that has been in the consumer mind for years regarding the supply chain, working conditions, environmental effect, and a controlled pricing model of Earth Mined Diamonds. Lab-Grown diamonds have enabled a consumer’s right to choose a larger and purer diamond whose pricing model is dynamically driven and has the benefits that will further expand with an economy of scale. By democratizing luxury, Lab Grown diamonds are heading towards opening the widest consumer base globally the diamond industry has ever experienced.

What is the growth potential of the LGD market globally, and what are the growth opportunities that might emerge going forward?

The Lab-Grown Diamond market is on track for a multifold growth in a stagnant industry who has been struggling to connect with its consumers for the last decade. The market share of Lab-grown diamonds is forecasted to grow over 5 billion dollars by 2023 and over 15 billion in the next decade. The clear shift of choice between the twins (Earth Mined diamonds & Lab Grown diamonds) is happening as consumers get more educated and their acceptance rate gets higher. Major fashion retailers as well as the engagement category globally are offering the Lab-grown diamond choice to the consumer. Various luxury brands are diving into the space as they see the opportunity to create a product that caters to a socially responsible and environmentally-conscious consumer.

The lab-grown diamond global market is also unlocking the potential of the aspirational consumers who are entering the market for fine diamond jewelry. While the luxury industry saw a drop in spending, jewelry retained its place as the top four desired gifts. Jewelry has always been symbolic to people bonding over life’s special moments. We have all survived through a pandemic together and jewelry bounced back faster than most of the other luxury products. The growth of the Lab-Grown diamond category was over 100% during this period over the previous year as consumers looked to make value-driven purchases without compromising on their desire for larger diamonds. This value was backed with the authenticity of the supply chain and transparency of information that enabled them to make the purchase confidently. This consumer conversion from Earth Mined to Lab-grown diamonds is permanent. Once a Lab-Grown consumer, always a Lab-Grown consumer.

Please run us through your company ALTR Created Diamonds history from the time of inception to date for the benefit of our readers. Also, give details of your products, market/s ALTR caters etc. Do ALTR Diamonds produce colored LGDs as well? Which of your product segment in terms of size has captured a high market share?

In 2006, we unveiled the world's first lab-grown diamond jewelry line (Firefly Collection) at the JCK Las Vegas Trade show. However, after being laughed upon by the trade, we went back to work to improve our product as well as an understanding that the trade community was not prepared for a disruption and that this needed to be communicated to the consumer. We officially re-introduced ourselves as ALTR Created Diamonds at the JCK Las Vegas trade show in 2016. We were clear about our goal to educate the consumer about their choice and our first retail partner was Borsheim’s Fine Jewelry (A Berkshire Hathway Company). As the only vertically aligned (Grow, Cut & Polish, Design and manufacture Jewelry) Created Diamond House in the world, we focused on bringing transparency and authenticity to the consumer with education. We unveiled the world’s only authentic lab-grown diamond film that educated the viewer on how an ALTR diamond is created. As flag bearers to this disruption, the House of ALTR has dedicated its resources not only to grow its brand footprint by opening global markets but also developing the world of Lab-grown diamonds to the consumer and the diamond industry.

We have been devoted to growing the purest diamond crystal found on earth identified as Type IIa which constitutes to less than 2% of the worlds purest diamonds. With 8 decades of industry experience, 48 diamond cut patents and automated robotic polishing, we have worked to ensure that ALTR Created Diamonds are cut to precision for the finest cuts in various shapes and the highest brilliance. These beautiful ALTR Created Diamonds are used in Fine Jewelry crafted with US (United States) Certified Recycled Gold ensuring that we are doing our part to contribute towards a low carbon footprint. We focused on our efforts of authenticity by grading our lab-grown diamonds with GCAL (Gem Certification and Assurance Lab) the only laboratory that guarantees the grade of a diamond and introducing the concept of E-Certs in the category. As a modern brand, we investigated every aspect of the process and worked to improve it.

The House of ALTR is focused toward growing the Lab-Grown Diamond category with a distribution model that services the mid-stream segment of wholesalers, distributors, manufacturers of jewelry and retailers through our global offices along with its our own brand.

ALTR focused on the concept of Larger and more beautiful diamonds through its Shine Brighter campaign that became an industry-standard after its launch. ALTR Created Diamonds from 0.50 ct to 5 ct focused and captured the larger dollar share in the engagement category that is now a standard offering in major retailers in USA, Australia, Europe, Canada, India, South Korea.

ALTR offers a range from fine cut white diamonds to beautiful shades of pink, blue and yellow colors. Our strength of diamond cutting in precision-based traditional round and fancy shapes allows the jewelry designer to think beyond the limitation they have been tied to for the last few decades.

ALTR has been honored with key accomplishments for unveiling the world's largest created pink diamond at the time as well as with Jewelry design award that helps uplift the category of lab-grown diamonds.

Can you update us briefly about your/ family business in India? What inspired you to enter the LGD sector? Do you have your LGD producing / manufacturing/trading presence in India as well? If not, any plans on the horizon?

My inspiration for entering the lab-grown diamond industry was my overwhelming passion for technology. I was born into a diamond business family and knew that was going to be my path. My grandfather who started the business in 1933 created Jewels for the Royals in India. My interest in technology drove me to marry my two passions, which is how I ended up focusing on the lab-grown side of the industry as a pioneer. After 88 years in the business, I get to be the generation that is taking the history of diamonds and fusing it with technology.

Our Lab-Grown diamonds are produced & polished in India with distribution in 20 countries including the United States, EU, Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, China, India, Canada, Thailand, South Korea, Israel, and South Africa but we are always looking to expand our consumer base even further.

We have offices to support the trading into the wholesale market in India, Hong Kong, USA & Australia.

Besides facing competition from the Natural Diamond industry, what other challenges do you think the LGD industry may have to face in the future? Color-gems are capturing the imagination of jewelry connoisseurs of late. Your thoughts?

The competition between Earth Mined and Lab Grown diamonds is healthy and advantageous for the long-term growth of the diamond industry. The challenges that the Earth Mined diamond industry faces are an opportunity for the Lab-grown category. Authenticity, transparency, environmental consciousness, and social responsibility are points that they can capitalize on with focused marketing towards today’s consumer.

The biggest challenge that I foresee for the lab-grown diamond community is the closing window of creating value by marketing and branding. The value generated by technology depreciates over a period as it improves over time. The economy of scale takes over the value generated when the technology was born. Any industry has a period between innovation and the product becoming a mass item to create perception and desire with marketing that allows it to build long term value in the consumer mind. The diamond industry is not used to building value by marketing and I see that as a risk for the disappearing mid-stream segment over time.

Colored diamonds have always been desirable and more than ever they are now taking a front seat. With Lab Grown diamonds, this category is waiting to explode.

Also, as the competitive landscape in the LGD sector is already evident, what upcoming trends can new entrants invest in, given that product differentiation is not many to play around? What is ALTR Diamonds’ USP?

The opportunity for a new entrepreneur in the lab-grown category is immense. They need to focus on building value in the eyes of the consumer through design, branding and marketing. This is the space that is not occupied by the traditional diamond trade. Using various tools of technology to offer finer 3D printed jewelry, omnichannel consumer experience, made to order jewelry, try on options, new startups in the category should focus on a Direct-to-consumer approach that allows them to educate the consumer who is looking for a modern Jeweler that they can trust. They should base their brands on values that consumers connect with today.

ALTR is focused on growing the Lab Grown diamond category by amplifying its current strengths. Our USP’s vary depending on the client we are working with but as the world's only vertically integrated created diamond house we’re focused on educating consumers not only on the quality of created diamonds, but also how to shop for one.

As per reports, the US market especially has taken to LGDs quite enthusiastically with sales of LGD diamond-studded jewelry growing by the day. Which other global consumer market/s do you think is showing or may show high demand in the future?

The US market dominates the major share of over 80% consumption of Lab Grown diamonds today. This share is slowing being reduced with growth from Australia, Europe, India, and China. While India and China are just opening as markets, their aspirational consumer base is very wide which will lead to a major growth in the next 5 years.

The natural diamond Indian industry is gradually accepting the LGDs as part of the industry. What is your opinion; and how do you think this trend will span out in the years to come? Is it possible for both the sectors to co-exist without friction as they grow in the coming years?

The consumer determines the fate of any industry. The future of the diamond industry is a combination of Earth Mined and Lab Grown. While it took a long time for the traditional trade to open their minds, there is no stopping it anymore. The future of diamonds is noticeably clear and the balance between the twins will be determined by the consumer.

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