Inaugural Lab Grown Diamond Symposium Success
Chatham Gives Keynote Address
The inaugural one-day Lab Grown Diamond Symposium held in Dubai, July 10th, 2023, and organized by the DMCC (Dubai Multi Commodities Centre) gathered industry stakeholders, financial and technological professionals, and others, explored key issues along the entire LGD supply chain.
As promoted in the media leading up to the symposium, “In the last few years, we have seen accelerating changes in technologies, supply chain dynamics, and consumer adoption, triggering both value creation opportunities, but also new growth barriers. This event aims to discuss core industry themes in an interactive format to collaboratively lay the foundations for LGD global sustainable growth and success. It’s about the LGD industry building its own bright future.”
It was a day full of panels and speakers on various topics, all of which can be found here.
“Now, more than ever before, it is important to have this event. The last six months have seen the LGD industry struggle with falling prices across the supply chain and margins that continue to shrink. Some retailers are rumored to be withdrawing from LGD entirely, while others are selling them at highly discounted prices. Many argue that LGD now face a crisis.”
PANEL THREE: REPUTATION AND SUSTAINABILITY
One session that seems to be a repeating theme all across the jewelry industry was one of sustainability.
The question addressed to the panel was, “What can be done to secure the long-term reputational strength of lab-grown diamonds?”
Panelist Nirav Jogani, Director and Vice Chairman, RSM Astute and Lemon Consultech Groups, gave his thoughts in an interview conducted by Editor-In-Chief Sandhya Valecha of Lab Grown Diamonds Magazine.
The BIG Question
“Everyone was looking for an answer to the big question,” noted Jogani. “What does the future hold for the trade?” To address this question were lots of brainstorming conversations throughout this conference. Jogani noted that one key element that came out of all of this revolved around the way in which LGDs are sold, using the mechanism [Rapaport price charts] used in the natural mined diamond sector.
“LGDs have been compared to the natural diamond market, and that is not really the right way to market LGDs,” states Jogani. “There are a lot of differences between the two, LGD and Natural, and so both need different ways for distribution and marketing.” Jogani pointed out that if the sector stays on this track, then it’s a lose-lose situation. “LGD’s will cannibalize the sale of natural diamonds, and then the prices will continue to fall.”
He also spoke with regards to promotion. “Marketing should not be on price alone,” says Jogani. “Yes, they are less expensive, but if they are sold by simply stating that these are cheaper, it will soon destroy the market.”
Of course there were symposium presentations that spoke directly to other applications for LGD, including industrial and technological uses. They see a future that is possible beyond jewelry.
The Story & the Brand
Telling a story is a theme that has carried over from the Harvard State of the Art Jewelry Summit a few weeks back. And Jogani honed in on that.
“There were also discussions that focused on the story behind LGDs, creating your own brand, and telling the story of the manufacturer or the polishers to help create a brand.” He believes that this is imperative, whether you are B to B, B to C, or developing partnerships with retailers to create a new brand. But the story must focus on the brand and not just on the price. It should be something of interest for the consumer.
“For example,” says Jogani, “LGD offers the opportunity to design the shape of the diamond in a way mined diamonds do not. Any kind of shape, the alphabet, or star shapes, etc., and then mounted into a jewelry piece that accentuates the diamond design. There are so many levels of creativity with LGDs that mined diamond doesn’t afford.”
“Mined diamonds are sold as a diamond, as a commodity,” says Jogani. “But LGD needs to be sold as a finished piece of jewelry, without breaking down the cost of the individual pieces. It is the end product that is more important. LGD can be tailor made. All unique designs. And once you have that position, then a lot of story telling is possible. Story telling is also possible on sustainability, ESG, etc. Multiple things are possible, but ultimately it has to belong to a brand.”
Sustainability and the Sustainable Goals of the United Nations
“While companies are very good at following CSR, they are not very good at communicating what they are doing,” notes Jogani. “Some try to communicate what they are NOT doing, claiming beyond what they are actually doing. But they are doing other goals well. They simply need to communicate them properly.”
Chatham Created – The Keynote Address of the Symposium
“It was a bit surreal talking to 285 fellow crystal growers,” says Tom Chatham, Chairman of the board at Chatham Created Gems & Diamonds, Inc., author of a new book Chatham Legacy – an American Story, a name synonymous with lab grown created gems. His family’s history of creating emeralds, fighting with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for allowing the use of the word “created” instead of “synthetic” is the stuff of legends. As the keynote, Chatham felt as if he was given the chore of trying to stop the race to the bottom in Lab Grown Diamond value. And so he gave them history, experience, direction, and words of wisdom.
“First, I explained our history and the FTC fight my father battled for four years in Washington, D.C. If it were not for him, they would all be calling their stones ‘synthetic.’”
The use of the term “synthetic” is gemologically correct, where synthetic gems have exactly the same physical chemical and optical properties of the natural mined gem. But for most common folk, the word “synthetic” means fake. And there’s nothing fake about manmade diamond. “Created” is a much better unambiguous descriptor.
That was history. Chatham now focuses his attention to today’s battle. “It is CIBJO, The World Jewellery Confederation, with their ‘artificial’ label on created gems that we need to change.” But there were a few more urgent matters to discuss first.
Chatham has decades of experience in making and selling created gems, including emerald, ruby, sapphire, and diamond. He has fought the fights, and continues to be the front line defending the Lab Grown market. He makes no apologies for being direct and to the point. Describing his address, Chatham says, “I told them to abandon the Rap crap in their ads. Forget green washing. Forget sustainability. You will never satisfy the FTC in my opinion, and the consumers don’t care anyway.” It’s time to follow the leader. “Develop brands and ignore ‘natural.’ We will never work together.”
The Donkey and the Tiger
At the end of his keynote address, to make his point more memorable, Chatham read a fable called the “Donkey and the Tiger.” As Chatham noted, you can think of the donkey representing the Natural Diamond Council, Rapaport, and CIBJO, and “we crystal growers” are the Tiger. (The lion, of course, is the FTC.)
The donkey told the tiger:
—The grass is blue!
The tiger replied:
— No, the grass is green!
The discussion became heated, and the two decided to submit the issue to arbitration, and to do so they approached the lion. Before reaching the clearing in the forest where the lion was sitting on his throne, the donkey started screaming:
— Your Highness, isn’t it true that the grass is blue?
The lion replied:
— True, the grass is blue!
The donkey rushed forward and continued:
— ′The tiger disagrees with me and contradicts me and annoys me. Please punish him!
The king then declared:
— The tiger will be punished with 5 years of silence!
The donkey jumped with joy and went on his way, content and repeating:
— The grass is blue! The grass is blue!
The tiger accepted his punishment, but he asked the lion:
— Your Majesty, why have you punished me, after all, the grass is green?
The lion replied:
— In fact, the grass is green!
The tiger asked:
— So why do you punish me?
The lion replied:
— That has nothing to do with whether the grass is blue or green. The punishment is because it is not possible for a brave, intelligent creature like yourself to waste time arguing with a donkey, and on top of that to come and bother me with that question!
The moral to the story….
Are you tired of wasting precious time and energy on pointless discussions? Do you find yourself constantly getting caught up in arguments with those who refuse to see reason? It’s time to learn when to walk away from these types of conversations and focus on what truly matters. Don’t ever debate or argue with donkeys. Never waste time on discussions that make no sense.