The seminar on Synthetic Diamonds, hosted as part of the Inspiration Series, a knowledge platform hosted by Palanpur Online and Palanpur Samaj Kendra, was perhaps a first-of-its-kind event in India, where manufacturers of both natural diamonds and synthetic diamonds shared their viewpoints from the same stage. Held on September 20, 2018 at the MCA Club, BKC, Mumbai, it understandably attracted a large and very attentive audience.
Setting the context for the seminar, Pranay Narvekar, well known diamond industry analyst and moderator of the seminar, stressed that the De Beers’ announcement regarding the launch of Lightbox Jewelry, a fashion jewellery brand studded with lab grown diamonds, had to some extent fast-tracked the process of altering the business dynamics of both the natural and the synthetic diamond industries.
Speakers, Moderator and Organising Committee
In a lively presentation that was both thought-provoking and interactive, Narvekar looked at some basic statistics of the two sectors and likely growth scenarios, as well as the possible impact that the entry of De Beers would have for each of these segments. He concluded by outlining some of the issues that he felt needed to be discussed by the different panelists in the sessions that followed.
The first panel, comprising Shreyance Shah, President, Flawless Allure Grown Diamonds (LGD manufacturer and distributor) and Ritesh Shah, CEO, Remy Diamonds Pvt. Ltd.; ALTR Created Diamonds (Integrated LGD Producer & Marketeer) had both the panellists stressing that the lab-grown diamond sector faced as many challenges as any other business. One of the primary concerns was that it being a relatively new product category, the lab-grown diamond sector had to not only build awareness and shape consumer perceptions, but also create an entirely new eco-system virtually from scratch. Both felt that, contrary to what many assume, the legitimate lab-grown diamond business also required hard work, multiple skill sets and did not yield huge, or ‘supernornal’ profits.
An attentive audience
Focus shifted to the dynamics of the US market in the session that followed. The panel, comprising Tejas Shah, CEO, Kiran Group USA (Jewellery Manufacturer and Distributor) and Stuart Lee, Former EVP/CMO of Signet Group, USA (Retailer) spoke about the impact of synthetics were having on the world’s largest market for diamond jewellery. Both of them pointed out that while there had been much discussion within the trade, mainly at the B2B level, awareness among consumers about the new product segment still remained limited. In fact, they opined, the diamond it they faced from synthetics. Strong generic marketing campaigns that brought diamond jewellery into focus once more could help both the natural diamond and synthetic sectors to increase their share of the consumer wallet.
Participating in the discussions on the natural diamond business, panelists in the third session, Rajiv P. Mehta, CEO, Dimexon Diamonds Ltd. and Ghanshyam Dholakia, Founder and Managing Director, Hari Krishna Exports Pvt. Ltd. stated strongly that diamantaires needed to not only be concerned about the impact of synthetics, but that they should also focus on the challenges arising out of the internal dynamics of the industry. While Mehta emphasised the need for self-discipline and introspection and highlighted the willingness of many diamantaires to pay unrealistically high prices for rough as a key area of concern, he also concurred with Dholakia, who stressed that the industry needed to be confident about its product and promote it aggressively to safeguard its market share and also grow.
In the concluding session, all six panelists responded to queries from the moderator as well as the audience on themes such as the impact of De Beers’ decision to enter the lab-grown diamond jewellery business, the possible impact of the Lightbox pricing strategy on diamonds that cost below US$ 800 per carat (Narvekar pointed out that this covered 95% of total supply in terms of pieces), questions related to nomenclature for lab-grown / synthetics and the implications of the new FTC guidelines, among others.
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