Last week, at the urging of a commenter, I looked into Kay’s and Jared’s policy for lab-grown diamond upgrades and trade-ins, now that both of those chains are selling them. Suffice it to say, it’s not the same as for naturals. Here’s Jared’s:
“Our diamond trade-in and upgrade services allow you to take any diamond jewelry (excluding lab-created diamonds) you no longer wear and trade it in for a brand new one.”
Kay’s site has similar language. And so does one of the biggest lab-grown diamond sellers online, Brilliant Earth.
Lab-grown manufacturer Diamond Foundry has traditionally touted its “forever 100% value guarantee”, which “guarantee[s] the value of your diamond forever” with a “free lifetime upgrade.” At press time, JCK could not find the guarantee still listed on its site. The company did not respond to requests for comment about the guarantee’s current status. (UPDATE: After this piece was posted, Diamond Foundry emailed it’s “still offering” the guarantee but the site “is focusing more on B2B sales right now so it is not currently listed.”)
This is a thorny issue for the lab-grown diamond world. Given that technology cheapens over time, and created-diamond production isn’t limited by nature, most believe that synthetic prices will drop. In fact, that process has already started, with prices falling over the last year despite a clear spike in demand. (Natural diamond prices have fallen recently, too, though not as much.) Last December, Diamond Foundry announced that it was setting its diamonds at 55% below the Rapaport list. A vendor just approached me on LinkedIn, promising prices 78%–89% below Rap.
Retail prices are falling, too. Analyst Paul Zimnisky estimates they have dropped an average of 20%–30% since the beginning of the year. In January, a 2.01 ct. J SI2 very good–cut lab-grown with an IGI report sold for $6,800 on Brilliant Earth. You can now see lab-growns with similar specs on the site in the $4,000 range.
Which may explain why some sellers are skittish about trade-ins. Though not all are.
Both Ada Diamonds and MiaDonna offer lab-grown upgrades, though they require the purchaser spend a certain price on the new stone—one and one-half times the original in Ada’s case and two times in MiaDonna’s. That isn’t unusual; many traditional sellers have similar policies.
And while it seems an exception, Wisconsin chain Kesslers Diamonds offers the same trade-in policy for lab-growns as it does for naturals—with no minimums.
If the approaches here seem all over the map, they point to a larger issue: Do lab-grown diamonds have resale value? Many in the mined world maintain they don’t.