A PR coup for the laboratory-grown diamond sector: Meghan Markle wearing Kimaï’s drop earrings.
In January 2019, the emerging laboratory-grown diamond industry scored a public relations coup when the American wife of Britain’s Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, was spotted in London on her way to a meeting. She was dressed as most would expect from a member of the British family, but what caught the public’ attention were the drop earrings she was wearing. As it transpired, they were set with diamonds that were not natural, but rather had been grown in a lab. If a princess could wear lab-grown diamonds, the pundits asked, why not ordinary people?
Unsurprisingly, the identity of Meghan Markle’s earrings had been strategically revealed by the company that made them, a firm called Kimaï, based in Antwerp. Owned by Sidney Neuhaus and Jessica Warch, both had grown up in diamond industry families, with Nauhaus’s grandfather actually having worked at once stage for De Beers.
Kimaï later announced that it has raised about € 1.1 million in a seed funding round led by Talis Capital. Investors in the startup include fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff, Facebook manager Fidji Simo, and billionaire businessman Xavier Niel. Among the early adopters of the brand were, of course, Meghan Markle, but also actors Emma Watson and Jessica Alba.
“Our generation represents more than 45 percent of the global luxury goods market, but the industry is still stuck in their old ways,” said 26-year-old Neuhaus.
CONSUMER AND TRADE MARKET RESEARCH REPORT
MVI Marketing , and American market research company specializing in the for the global gem, jewelry and watch industries, recently announced the completion of its 2020 lab-grown diamond consumer and trade market research report entitled Gaining Critical Mass. The report, was the result of comprehensive quantitative online studies and video interviews with consumers, along with one-on-one evaluations of jewelry retailers.
The report was co-sponsored by the International Grown Diamond Association (IGDA) and INSTORE Magazine, builds on data gathered in a major consumer study conducted in September 2018, as well as past research MVI to track the historical progression of the lab-grown diamond category.
Marty Hurwitz, CEO of MVI Marketing, believes independent jewelers and jewelry chains are the retail channels leading in this category. “Lab-grown diamond is a high margin category that consumers are reacting to positively. Now that Signet is in it, other jewelers will have to take a hard look at this category or lose out on it,” Hurwitz says.
As an industry, Hurwitz advocates that jewelers remember they’re in the love and emotions business. “It doesn’t matter what consumers have assigned that emotion to, jewelers have to make a profit on it; that’s the goal.
“Lab-grown diamond is a high margin category that consumers are reacting to positively,” says Marty Hurwitz, CEO of MVI Marketing, which produced the in-depth report.
Hanging on to one product that sells love may not be a good idea. Present consumers with a choice, present both mined and lab-grown diamonds, and make money with the products they value and see as love. Let them choose.”
Zales, one of the largest components of the Signet Group, which has now added laboratory-grown diamonds to its product mix.
NO LONGER A MYSTERY PRODUCT
One of the key finding of the MVI reports is that, from the consumer perspective, lab-grown diamonds are no longer a mystery product, with 80 percent of jewelry consumers in 2020 having heard about them, up from 58 percent in 2018. Furthermore, 69 percent of jewelry consumers in 2020 know of brands using lab-grown diamonds, up from 49 percent in 2018.
Some 62 percent of lab-grown diamond retailers report that between 5 percent and 50 percent of diamond customers ask about lab-grown diamonds, and already 8 percent of the 1,027 jewelry consumers surveyed said that, not only were they aware of lab-grown diamonds, they actually own or have purchased lab-grown diamonds.
The MVI report estimates that 38 percent of independent retailers in the United States are offering lab-grown diamonds in-store and/or online, and it forecasts that the figure could rise to about half by the end of the year.
Almost 95 percent of lab-grown diamond retailers in the survey reported obtaining better margins with the synthetic product, with 78 percent reporting margins of 16 percent to more 40 percent better than with natural diamonds