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Lab-grown diamonds reshaping the global market, putting natural gems market under pressure

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Man-made gems are reshaping the global diamond jewellery market, especially in the west Indian city of Surat where 90% of the world’s diamonds are cut and polished

Mumbai: Man-made gems are reshaping the $89 billion global diamond jewellery market, especially in the west Indian city of Surat where 90% of the world’s diamonds are cut and polished.

In Smit Patel’s lab, technicians drop crystal diamond “seed” slices into reactors mimicking the extreme pressure far underground.

“Once the customer sees it for themself, they are sold. I believe this is the future,” said Patel, Director of Greenlab Diamonds and the third generation of his family to deal in diamonds.

From seed to ring-ready jewels, his team takes less than eight weeks to produce a diamond virtually indistinguishable from a mined gem.

“It’s the same product, it’s the same chemical, the same optical properties,” Patel said.

Lab-grown diamond exports from India tripled in value between 2019 and 2022, while export volumes rose by 25% between April and October 2023, up from 15% in the same period a year earlier, according to the latest industry data.

“We’ve grown at 400% year-on-year in volume,” Patel told AFP.

In February 2023, 17% of diamond engagement rings sold in the United States — the world’s biggest consumer of natural stones — used lab-grown gems, according to industry analyst Edahn Golan.

By Golan’s assessment, it is now 36%. This has partly been made possible by hundreds of companies in China and India, both among the largest producers of man-made stones.

Indian lab diamond makers exported 4.04 million carats between April and October 2023, a 42% year-on-year increase, according to India’s Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC).

“We had to press the reset button,” Mehta said. “Otherwise people would panic.”

At least five Indian sightholders told AFP that the De Beers Group had cut prices by between 10 and 25% for different categories of diamonds at the first sale of its year when buyers restock after the US holiday season.

Courtesy: khaleejtimes.com

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