Gemesis to sell lab-grown whites to consumers

We publish courtesy of National Jeweler

Author: Michelle Graff

 

 

Gemesis, the lab-grown diamond company known for its production of yellows and pinks, revealed this week that it now has the ability to create lab-grown white diamonds slightly larger than a carat and will begin selling them directly to consumers via a new e-commerce site early next year.

Also joining the new whites on Gemesis.com: larger and higher-quality lab-grown yellows, one of which, an astounding 4.09-carat fancy vivid yellow-orange, already has made headlines. A few weeks ago, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) reported in one of its Gems & Gemology e-Briefs that this stone was the largest lab-grown diamond ever graded by the GIA, was exceptional in clarity and was difficult to detect as a lab-grown diamond (click here to read that article).

Stephen Lux, Gemesis president and CEO, confirmed to National Jeweler that it was Gemesis that submitted this stone to the GIA. “That was the largest polished stone that we’ve ever done. It was unbelievable,” he said.

He said during the downturn, Gemesis, like so many companies, did some internal soul-searching. The company brought new investors on board, poured money and efforts into the research side of the business and decided to focus on selling directly to consumers.

“We obviously did a lot of reflecting during the economic downturn and made some fundamental business decisions,” he said. “We had a business model that was not as successful as we would have liked it to have been.”

Lab-grown white diamonds, which are created using the chemical vapor deposition (CVD) process, have been on the market for a number of years and available from companies such as Boston-based Apollo Diamond. Growers of white diamonds, however, haven’t had much luck creating diamonds that were a carat or larger in size.

The GIA’s first identification of a CVD-grown white that was larger than a carat came just this past May (click here to read that article).  Lux said it wasn’t Gemesis that submitted that stone for grading. Apollo Diamond did not return a call for comment on this story.

At Gemesis, however, they have been able to break the carat barrier, Lux said. While the largest stone Gemesis has been able to produce to date is a 1.11-carat white, he said the bulk of the diamonds Gemesis is growing range between half a carat and three-quarters of a carat, though the company does hope to eventually produce a range up to 1.25 carats.

The diamonds will be mostly VS or VVS clarity—Lux notes that Gemesis has produced very few SI diamonds—with colors ranging from G to J, though most are going to grade H or I. The lab-grown stones will generally be priced at about 20 percent less than the prices similar mined stones go for on Blue Nile.

“The quality of the white stones is really high end. We’re not going to be dabbling in the low-end goods,” he said.

In addition to diving into new territory with lab-grown white diamonds, Gemesis also is changing the way its stones reach the consumer. Lux said previously, Gemesis sold to manufacturers that then set the lab-grown colored diamonds into jewelry, which they sold to Gemesis-carrying retailers.

Now, Gemesis will sell directly to consumers via Gemesis.com and will work directly with retailers, though not as many as the company had at its peak, when between 50 and 100 jewelers carried the stones. Lux said while it’s hard to predict how many retailers Gemesis will work with, it will be a “more select” group than it was.

Lux said the launch of the new Gemesis.com will be sometime in early to mid-January. Also in the plans for the new Gemesis is a social media presence on sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

“That is on the near-term horizon and that will be part of the package going forward,” Lux said.

Gemesis didn’t devote all of its recent research and development funds into growing white diamonds. The company also improved the HPHT growing technique it uses for its lab-grown yellows. Lux said the company is now able to routinely produce vivid yellow stones and can grow a yellow diamond up to three carats in size.

“We have been improving that process tremendously,” he said.

While these yellow diamonds are certainly not inexpensive, Lux said the value is still there for consumers with an interest in colored diamonds. The record-breaking 4-carat yellow was immediately sold to an undisclosed individual in the New York area who wanted it for an engagement ring. The price: between $3,000 and $4,000 a carat, Lux said. It’s no bargain-basement buy, but it’s certainly much less than the price a natural yellow of that size would have commanded, he said.

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