Well Played De Beers, Well Played

Article by
Anna-Mieke Anderson

It is no secret that the traditional diamond industry is resisting to accept lab-created diamonds. For years mining companies have been trying to slow the popularity of this new earth-mined alternative. As a leader of the lab-created diamond movement, it's important to predict the diamond industry’s next move. And, like a game of chess, timing is essential.

It is known that De Beers has their own lab, where they create the diamond called "Element Six." They’ve insisted that the research they have been doing was only for industrial purposes, but it’s easy to see through that cover up. In the past, I predicted that De Beers was most likely stockpiling lab-created diamonds, as they have been known to do with earth mined diamonds. Starting in the 1880s, Cecil Rhodes, then chairman of De Beers Consolidated Mines, bought up all the diamond mines he could. De Beers then proceeded to stockpile rough (uncut) diamonds. Stockpiling and controlling the supply that arrives at market creates artificial scarcity, which drives up prices. De Beers diamond stockpile is estimated to be between $3.9 billion to $2.5 billion.

Well, this week's "chess move" by De Beers has been very interesting. The De Beers’ company began patent infringement litigation against a well-known gem grade lab-created manufacturer - IIa Technologies - alleging infringement of its patents concerning "synthetic" diamond material.

Wow, well played De Beers, well played! (insert clapping sound)

Most likely De Beers is still stockpiling diamonds but this is an impressive turn of events and one even I wasn’t able to predict. I believe this case will not go far and could be seen as just another play to gain market control which De Beers has already been in trouble for. In 2008 they were sued for essentially being a monopoly, using their market dominance to wrongfully raise the price of rough diamonds. As a result, De Beers was ordered to pay nearly $300 million back to consumers who purchased De Beers diamonds between September 20, 1997, and March 31, 2006.

The idea of companies being driven by the short-term financial gain at the long-term cost to people and the planet is simply no longer acceptable. The emergence of this new ‘cleaner and greener’ lab-created diamond industry will naturally evolve, because Millennial diamond consumers aren’t their grandparents - it's that simple. History has taught us that if companies or industries are not agile and not able to adapt to new generations, they do not survive. After all, you must make the ‘right moves’ to be victorious.