Buying Gems on Amazon? Caveat emptor …

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Consumer Alert: Synthetic Diamond Prices Crashing

Consumer Alert: Synthetic Diamond Prices Crashing

Nov 21, 2023

Consumers Beware. Synthetic diamond prices are crashing yet some retailers are pricing them high by comparing them to prices for natural diamonds. Consumers think they are getting a good deal, but they are not. Synthetics trade as low as 98% below the Rapaport Price List for natural diamonds.

Synthetic prices are all over the place. Walmart sells a 3 ct., Round, F-G, VS1-VS2, synthetic diamond solitaire ring for $2,975, while Signet’s Blue Nile sells a similar 3.00 ct., Round, G, VS1 synthetic diamond solitaire ring for $8,190. That’s a 275% difference for the same ring.

Some jewelers are pushing synthetic diamonds because they can make huge profit margins. This won’t last because synthetic diamond prices are crashing to hundreds and even tens of dollars per carat. This is because they are available in unlimited supply.

Whether or not to buy a cheap diamond as an engagement ring is a consumer preference. However, consumers who spend thousands of dollars on synthetic diamonds may be seriously overpaying.

Consumers should be aware that synthetic diamonds are not like natural diamonds which are rare and expensive. Synthetic diamonds are not real diamonds. They do not retain value. are not real diamonds and are not a store of value.

Nov 21, 2023

We demand full disclosure about synthetic diamonds
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The grandeur of ancient Egyptian civilization is evident in 11 sumptuous pieces of jewelry from ancient Egypt

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Jeweler Gives Away Lab Growns

Because he’s convinced they are so WORTHLESS:

The Big Lab Grown Giveaway

Steven Singer is putting his money where his mouth is. He’s so convinced that lab growns are worthless that he’s literally giving them away.

You may have read about the giveaway launched earlier this month at his store in Philadelphia, USA, with 600 customers getting a free one-carat lab grown with any mined diamond engagement ring (starting price $548).

Well that’s only the start. He’s rolling out the giveaway across the USA.

“We’re going to give away $25m or $30m worth of diamonds, or at least that’s what they were worth three years ago,” says Singer.

“We’re going to launch a national giveaway, no purchase required, between now and the end of the year, and certainly through the first quarter of next year to Valentine’s Day.

Singer is outspoken, and no stranger to controversy. He built a marketing campaign for his Steven Singer Jewelry store using “I hate Steven Singer” as the slogan after a customer bought a diamond ring as a 20th wedding anniversary for his wife.

It led, so the story goes, to the unplanned arrival of the couple’s third child, and the customer returning to berate Singer for the sleepless nights he was suffering.

Singer also ran a cheeky “Does Size Matter?” ad featuring three women in a hot tub comparing their, er, diamonds.

And he’s just launched another, Hello Dolly, in which a sad loner proposes to his “not real” girlfriend with a “not real” diamond.

He says he’ll never sell a lab grown, and he says it loud and clear.

“That’s an absolute promise and commitment,” he says. “In the last 10 years, I’ve lost close to $50m by not selling them.

“I’ve never sold them. And I never will. And that’s why we’re giving them away just to prove how worthless they are.”

De Beers sell lab growns, the overwhelming majority of retailers sell lab growns, GIA certifies lab growns, and so does virtually every other lab. But Singer is adamant they’ll cause “the collapse of our industry” and he will never touch them.

If he’d simply argued against lab growns, he’d have been dismissed as bitter, he says.

“The only way I could was by giving them away, several million dollars worth, and proving that they’re worthless.

“Because if they had any value, why would anybody give them just given away? So we’re giving away hundreds if not thousands of carat size and half-carat lab growns for free.”

They may be cheap, but manufacturers aren’t actually giving them away. So how much is this enterprise (he doesn’t like me calling a stunt) costing?

“We signed NDAs with a lot of people when we started this project but I will tell you that we’ve spent at cost, at our cost, several million dollars so far to do this whole promotion.”

The money he’s investing in giving away diamonds is of course, marketing dollars that would otherwise go on TV, radio, podcasts or billboards.

But will he recoup that expenditure in publicity and sales?

“It’s either going to be the greatest thing I’ve ever done in 48 years in the business, or the dumbest thing I’ve ever done. And I don’t know,” he says.

“But I can’t sit by and let the jewelry business collapse because of all these idiots.

“I don’t know that I’m important enough or big enough or have a loud enough voice. I probably don’t.

“But doesn’t mean I’m not going to try to resurrect it and get it back on track.”

He says he didn’t believe anybody would be “stupid enough” to sell lab growns when they first hit the market about 10 years ago.

“The whole romance around diamonds is that they’re real, they’re rare, they’re natural. It’s like beachfront property, God ain’t making any more of it.”

He was wrong, and he readily admits it. Selling engagement rings with mined diamonds is selling a fantasy, he says. Once you can mass-produce the diamond, he says it’s like a magician showing you how they do the trick or a comedian telling you the punchline to a joke.

“I said the industry couldn’t be that stupid. Well, I was wrong. The industry is that stupid. And now 91 per cent of the industry is either selling lab grown exclusively or lab grown and natural.

“And the ones that are selling both, according to my unofficial tally, are a 90/10 in terms of retail units – selling 90 per cent lab and 10 per cent natural.”

He says he never thought the split would go beyond 50/50.

Singer’s store is one of 300 or so jewelry businesses at Jewelers’ Row, Philadelphia, the oldest shopping district in the US, and he has 30ft banners outside, advertising free lab growns.

“If somebody’s walking by my store and they’re going to buy a one-carat lab grown diamond for $3,000 or whatever, they see they can get a free one here,” he says.

“There’s very little chance they’re going to spend any money when they can walk into my store and get it for free.”

Neighboring stores may not be too happy, but Singer says he’s been inundated with calls from De Beers, the Natural Diamond Council, New York Diamond Dealers Club, Diamond Club West Coast, RJO (Retail Jewelers Organization), IJO (Independent Jewelers Organization) and many more.

“Everybody’s calling me, everybody’s thanking me. And on top of that, I had one death threat. So I know I’m doing something right,” he says.

“I had one guy come in (to the store) with a gun, saying it was illegal.”

A picture of the man from the surveillance system has been passed to the police.

Originally published:

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Attached here is an excellent article written by my respected colleagues at GemWorld/GemGuide. You’ll notice that I put “lab-grown” in quotes. That’s because these synthetic gemstones are not grown (they are manufactured) and they aren’t produced in a “lab,” but a factory. Readers are welcome to contact me directly with any questions or concerns. A link to the original article is included at the end. For your interest:

GemGuide Gem Focus
August 2023
Lab-Grown Diamonds: The topic that consumes us
In a very short time, lab-grown diamonds (LGD) went from a small blip in the industry to a major jewelry category. Like many in the industry, I predicted correctly that prices would continue to fall sharply as technology advanced. What I did not predict correctly is that LGD would gain in popularity so much that the category is now estimated to be as much as 50% of retail sales in the U.S.
The product is not without controversy and has consumed the industry. At every conference and trade show I have attended this year, LGD as a topic was featured in lectures, panels, and hands-on workshops. The relevance to our industry has grown so much in the past few years that recently, on July 10, the inaugural Lab-Grown Diamond Symposium was held in Dubai.
A Rapaport podcast featured an interview with Amish Shah, founder of Altr Created Diamonds, who summarized much of the discussion at the symposium. Since the Dubai Diamond Conference in 2017, production of LGD has grown five times. The LGD category grew from about 1% to 2% of market share in 2016 to near 50% today. Early on, every diamond bourse rejected the product, but today some sightholders are now trading LGD.
Shah said De Beers Group’s introduction of Lightbox was an acknowledgment that LGD are diamonds and a valid category. However, at the time of the company’s entry into this market, it was also calling them an inexpensive fashion product. There was much speculation at the time as to what their motive was, and since they undercut most sellers at the time by a lot at only $800 per carat retail, some thought they were purposely doing so to boost the value of natural diamonds. We really don’t know their ultimate plan back then or today, but they seemingly have embraced the LGD category. De Beers’ Lightbox website continues to grow with more offerings, now including engagement rings, for which the marketing line is: “Because great chemistry deserves great chemistry.” They are also now selling up to 2 carats.
Lightbox loose lab-grown diamonds and jewelry.
Image courtesy of Lightbox
Discussions about grading also continue as most of the LGD sold on the market are accompanied by a lab report, with the IGI lab leading the market by volume. By grading these with the same scale they use for natural diamonds, there’s a perception that the same rarity rules apply, hence a price difference between grades. However, there is talk of eventually sorting into just a few quality categories, much like how Lightbox sells now. Initially, Lightbox had one category and all diamonds were $800 per carat retail regardless of size (selling up to 1 carat). Now it has its standard quality, still at $800 per carat retail, and their Finest collection at $1,500 per carat retail.
As prices continue to slide, the price differential from grade to grade is not as significant. Prices are morphing together, and overlapping data is found when we research. GemGuide recently expanded its charts to show individual grades as with natural diamonds, however, many quality categories are close in price. For example, the difference in price on a 1-carat LGD from an F/VVS1 to an H/VS1 is $900 per carat to $700 per carat—only a $200-per-carat spread. In a natural with the same grades, the price difference is from $9,580 per carat to $6,570 per carat—a $3,010 spread.
Shah also discussed profit margins in the podcast. A large manufacturer recently went bankrupt in India, but he said he doesn’t think this will be a trend as most companies still maintain a good margin. The cost of start-up for a growing system is now about 1/3 of what it was a few years back, and the production output for one system has doubled, so it’s easy to see what’s behind the large price slide. Shah said the ROI on production is down, but with current pricing, growers still have healthy margins. As expected, as prices fall, some growers will be weeded out, and stronger ones will remain. Retailers also like selling LGD as their margins are generally more than those of natural diamonds.
Shah also talked about the opportunities with LGD like designing new cuts. The cost of natural diamond rough makes this much more costly and difficult, so LGD allow for creativity.
The lab-grown diamond historical price chart that appeared in the GemGuide July/August 2023 issue.
The biggest topic of controversy remains the way some have been selling lab-grown diamonds, using claims of ethical, sustainable, or environmentally friendly. Shah said conversations are getting much better, and noted the two sides were not throwing dirt at each other at the symposium. But claims need to be backed up with better information.
Yet Another Panel
At the NAJ Summit, a jewelry valuers conference held in Birmingham, U.K. in June, there was a spirited closing panel discussion on LGD. Panelists included Howard Levine, managing director of Diamnet, a U.K. company selling both natural and lab-grown diamonds; Lisa Levinson, head of the U.K. branch of the Natural Diamond Council; Joanna Park-Tonks, president of the International Grown Diamond Association; and Gaetano Cavallieri, president of CIBJO.
After each panelist gave a brief overview of their position, the discussion began, with some debate but a polite exchange considering some of the polar opposite views, and then finally, a few questions from the audience. Joanna Park-Tonks presented her view, trying to convince the audience that LGD are a luxury product, a position that did not go over well with the audience. I asked her a pointed question: If the natural diamond price differential is based on rarity, why are lab-growns also priced that way when there is no difference in rarity for LGD of differing grades? She tried to relate LGD pricing to the cost of paint supplies and artists, but the argument fell short to the audience. There really is no justification I have heard for the differences. Surely, lower quality will be priced different than higher quality, but De Beers has priced with two quality grades lumped together and it works fine for them.
Another audience member challenged the luxury notion. Jonathan Solomons, partner at Solomons & Rose LTD, quoted from a research paper he had written titled “The Great Diamond Debate: Natural vs. Synthetic, Consumer Perception, and Value.” In this extensive, well-researched 40-page paper, he covers a wide range of topics and several surveys of consumers and trade.
Helzberg Diamonds launched a lab-grown diamond collection called Rêve in March.
Image courtesy of Helzberg Diamonds
One topic he brought up was the lack of resale value. Luxury items have resale value. LGD do not. He surveyed three groups of diamond buyers, including online buyers, independent diamond dealers, high street pawnbrokers, and high street jewelers. In total, 24 companies were contacted, asking for offers on a 1.01-carat F/VS1 mined diamond with a GIA report and a 1.01-carat F/VVS2 LGD with an IGI report. While the offers varied on the natural diamond, all companies made an offer. With the LGD diamond, 100% of the companies declined to make an offer of any amount. While there might be some companies that manufacture or sell LGD that might make an offer, it would have to be well below their cost, which is already low. Therefore, his argument was that LGD are not luxury items since they hold no value.
I do not mean any disrespect to Ms. Park-Tonks, as her job is to be the spokesperson for the product. She was passionate about her position and statements. I just disagreed. I have stated before that I am not opposed to LGD and I do think they have a place in the industry. I only hope the industry gets better at disclosure, honesty of product, and a recognition of what it is and is not.
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Useful Article on Homeowner’s Jewelry Insurance – Forbes Magazine

However, DON’T be confused by this ad. Just skip over it:

Here is the link:

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Cremation Diamonds: loving treasure or blatant rip-off ?

Consumer beware. These offerings are, in our opinion, a rip-off. Before you consider “investing” in a cremation diamond, please read the report linked here:

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Update and house-cleaning

I realize that I’ve been a little remiss in posting recently. There is, however, a WEALTH of information here. You can use the search feature to find information on European Gemological Lab’s (EGL) difficulties and issues. Are you planning on a cruise ? Search for it. You NEED to read what I’ve posted here first … especially before you make any purchases. Need to sell an item of jewelry ? Look at the link that is just below the banner on this page. Other than that, I promise to be more regular in coming days.

Meanwhile, here’s a little treat. it’s an oldy that I posted here quite some time back. This is an Edwardian Period piece (1901 – 1915) and the gemstone is a natural and unheated aquamarine, one of the finest that has landed on my work-table; a beauty. The piece is hand-fabricated and engraved.

If you have any questions to do with appraisal science, gems, vintage or contemporary jewelry … or other related issues, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Info is on the contact page. Best to you all. Ken

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Third-party reports can benefit both estate retailers and customers.–06LUontKQTb3gv3HizPefxbCb6qQLs8AhSwtCEac754GJq_1NVozRpWtUNrZzwnXCITq9RddYOkbIzMOrISNARo9WAQ&utm_content=88779555&utm_source=hs_email

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To our esteemed clients and friends: we are still here to serve you. Most appraisal assignements can still be completed safely and with little or no problem. Just contact me with your questions and needs and we’ll go from there. Ken 208-763-3370

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