The former CEO of Dominion Diamond Mines is launching a lab-grown-diamond venture targeting the bridal market, the Financial Times reported.
Patrick Evans’s company will produce synthetic stones at a US location with access to cheap solar power, the report said Sunday. It will sell diamonds above 1 carat, pricing them at a discount of 15% to 20% off natural diamonds.
Evans left Dominion last month after about a year in charge, having previously been CEO of Mountain Province for more than a decade. Based on his mining experience, he expects the supply of natural diamonds to have almost run dry by the middle of the century due to a lack of recent discoveries, the UK newspaper said.
“I’ve explored on four continents — it’s about 1,000 times more difficult to find an economic diamond mine than a gold mine,” he told the Financial Times. “The industry is just not investing in exploration.”
The executive, who refers to synthetics as “cultured diamonds,” is taking a different approach from that of De Beers, which launched a synthetic-diamond brand last year focused on relatively low-cost fashion jewelry. De Beers argues that lab-grown diamonds are fun, colorful products that lack the scarcity of their natural counterparts, and are therefore not what consumers want when buying jewelry to mark special milestones.
Though Evans is aiming for the higher-priced engagement-ring segment, he claimed his venture would not endanger the natural sector.
“I do not see cultured and mined diamonds being in competition,” Evans told Rapaport NewsMonday. “Some people will prefer to buy mined diamonds. Others will be happy to buy cultured.”
His anticipated pricing is also much higher than the norm for synthetics. The price of a 1-carat, G-color, VS-clarity polished lab-grown diamond stood at about 50% of the natural equivalent during the fourth quarter of 2018, Bain & Company said in a report in December.
“We don’t think it’s necessary to discount the product heavily,” the London-based newspaper quoted Evans as saying. “We think that we’ll be able to achieve natural pricing.”
Image: Patrick Evans at the Gahcho Kué mine in Canada while CEO of Mountain Province. (Mountain Province)