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Hot opinion

DeBeers stabs the diamond industry!

By John Pollard | Jun 11, 2018

De shock. De outrage! ~ Et tu, DeBrute?


For 50 years DeBeers condemned synthetic diamonds in jewelry. Now they will produce, market and sell synthetic diamonds in jewelry. And some leaders in the natural diamond world are losing their minds.


But wait a minute. Should we be surprised? This is a biblical move. It's 100% DeBeers. It’s the scorpion and frog parable. It’s their nature.

In fact Forbes used that scorpion parable in a 2015 article about modern capitalism, right around the same time JCK's Rob Bates was predicting to CCTV that DeBeers might consider jumping into the synthetic market.

DeBeers has a subsidiary that makes synthetic diamonds… If this becomes a big market they could eventually jump into it. - Rob Bates 2015

This is what DeBeers does. And they're great at it.

Come on, man. This is The Syndicate. The CSO. The DTC. Forevermark. The DeBeers' rose, by other name, constantly blooms in the direction of evolution. They recognize patterns. They adapt. Nobody does it better.

They monopolized supply of rough diamonds for a century. By the time the monopoly was broken they had cleverly diversified to demand areas including marketing, services and even retail sales. This plan to deploy Element Six at precisely the right moment in history has been decades in the making. It's a calculated diversification into another sector, again. This announcement implies they will have a supply monopoly, again, and also disrupts a rising threat to their natural business by framing and pricing all synthetics as nothing more than fun fashion. It's elegant.


So where does this leave the natural diamond business?

Better off, perhaps. Consider how DeBeers frames all of this on their Lightbox website.

Nature created diamonds over a billion years ago. The larger a natural diamond, the rarer it becomes. Each one is unique, like a snowflake. So they are priced individually, often with certificates to describe their character and qualities.

But we can make laboratory-grown diamonds every day of the week. Among the finest you can find. In the color or size we choose. So our pricing is easy, as transparent as our stones. - DeBeers


So the DeBeers Scorpion isn’t stinging the natural frog (well, maybe a little bit) as much as he’s goring the proverbial Ox of every modern laboratory-grown diamond maker on the planet.

Can you imagine how that feels?

Image courtesy of FOX

Let’s say you work tirelessly to replicate a Gordon Ramsay mushroom risotto. After decades of investment and improvement your little kitchen produces an identical (and I mean identical) risotto, except yours comes box-frozen. It tastes perfect once heated (wow!) but the frozen thing is off-putting, criticized and seen by many as non-authentic.

That’s ok because Ramsay’s risotto retails for $50. You introduce your yummy frozen version for $25 and eventually work your way down to $20... You’re gathering momentum. You’re getting your first taste of market penetration. You’re going to make it…

And suddenly Chef Ramsay himself appears on every channel proclaiming “oh, that’s easy to do,” and launches his own brand of frozen-risottos in three delicious flavors for just $5 a box. Delivered.


Come to think of it, natural diamond sellers, you might want to thank DeBeers.

They just loudly and officially clarified, for all time, that what you sell is special. What you sell is valuable. What you sell cannot possibly be replaced, even by DeBeers themselves, because what you sell is … (wait for it) … Forever.

Now what?

Is DeBeers also preparing to de-mystify and disclose origins for natural diamonds? There’s a lot of buzz about DeBeers and Blockchain, which seems like a step in that very direction. But let’s not forget the scorpion parable and the nature of DeBeers. There’s more to that story, which I'll save for another opinion piece.

Meanwhile, let's all be careful as we make our way across the river.


John Pollard

John Pollard

John is the Unites States Director for Crafted by Infinity diamonds. A consultant for manufacturers, grading laboratories and showrooms on three continents, he has lectured for JCK Las Vegas, the American Gem Society in Washington D.C., International Gemological Institute in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Europe, the GIA Alumni Association and Polygon symposiums across the nation.


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