Ann Glynn, President/CEO Southern Jewelers Guild, discusses lab grown diamonds with Terry Chandler, President of the Diamond Council of America.
“No gold digging for me; I take diamonds. We may be off the gold standard one day.” – Mae West
Twice a year, I am lucky enough to attend the Atlanta Jewelry Show. The show, in its 66th year, is run by a team of magnificent women, headed by Carol Young, Executive Director of the Southern Jewelry Travelers Association, the official sponsor and producer of the show. There are many reasons why I love attending this show, but one of the top reasons is because I really enjoy the “Engagements” Panels that are moderated by my friend Kathy Beall.
During the Spring, 2016 Atlanta Jewelry Show, Kathy put together an “Engagements” panel that focused on suppliers and services, and featured panelists including David Rocha of Jewelers for Children; Tim Roark of TR Imports; Terry Chandler, of the Diamond Council of America; Robert Loving of Time Delay; and Matthew Tratner of Jewelers of America.
I especially enjoyed this panel because it addressed the challenges of lab grown diamonds from several different aspects, including handling, marketing and selling them in a retail environment. No matter where you stand on this issue, I encourage you to take some time to become better acquainted with the facts.
As a participant on the “Engagements” panel, Terry Chandler, President of the Diamond Council of America, had a lot of great advice for retailers during the session, and shared some additional thoughts with me afterward. According to Terry, It’s an accepted reality that the lab grown (synthetic) diamond “train” has left the station. This product category is real and here to stay. Jewelers who don’t embrace lab grown diamonds will miss out in years to come on sales and margin.
When I asked him if he felt lab grown diamonds would be a huge disrupter to the industry, he said: “The lab grown diamond category is no different from lab grown color. When Krementz began growing color many jewelers said it would destroy the natural color business. These many years later… fine color is selling for more per carat, in many cases, than diamond and Krementz thrives.”
As far as the question of Millennials embracing the lab grown diamond product, Terry said: “Lab grown diamonds especially appeal to a large segment of Millennials. They are pleased that the Earth wasn’t disturbed, trees weren’t harmed, and there were no ‘dangerous’ mines dug. They will expect jewelry retailers to offer this category.”
I asked him what he is hearing from retailers across the U.S. on the subject and he told me: “The fear expressed by many independent jewelers of putting lab grown diamond in their store is misplaced. The consumer who wants to own a lab grown diamond will buy a lab grown diamond from someone. And, natural diamond will always be the most desired by the majority of consumers.”
Terry closed out our conversation by adding some sage advice for retailers to consider. “The retail jeweler will regret not embracing the lab grown diamond category. It is going to be a significant part of the business in years to come. The jewelers responsibility is to take advantage of training on this product, and have well versed associates behind the counter who can explain it effectively.”
While the advice from Terry deals with the consumer/sales side of the issue, I wanted to hear from someone on the manufacturing/buying side of the issue as well. For this, I turned to Vipul Sutariya, Director of Marketing for Dharmanandan Diamonds Pvt. Ltd. Based in India, with offices scattered throughout the globe, Dharm, as they are known in the trade, has been recognized by its peers for professional integrity, manufacturing philosophy, excellent human resource management and innovative use of technology that raises overall efficiency, yield and polished quality in production.
Vipul began our conversation by reminding me that the cost of production for lab grown diamonds is still very high. Therefore, a consumer shopping strictly on price could easily be persuaded towards the natural diamond, based on the unique, symbolistic and emotional value attached to such a purchase.
We then discussed what Vipul feels is the most important aspect on the issues with lab grown diamonds – diligence.
There can be no doubt that a big challenge retail jewelers face on the buying side comes from the threat that unreported and uncertified lab grown diamonds may continue to enter into the diamond supply chain, causing the potential for massive liability. Currently there are no comprehensive industry or federal guidelines for documenting and reporting lab grown diamonds. Therefore, according to Vipul, the risk is high that consumer confidence could be shaken if lab grown diamonds were allowed to penetrate the supply chain. In order to closely monitor this at a retail level, Vipul urges retailers to carefully choose their diamond suppliers, and work with companies that have a reputation for excellence, customer service and product consistency.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Would you consider stocking and selling lab grown diamonds, or is it a product that you would never include in your merchandising mix? Let me know!
Have questions about the Southern Jewelers Guild or want more information about membership? E-mail me at Ann@SouthernJewelersGuild.com or call (504) 615-1191.