De Beers’ Lightbox chief reveals 2019 plans

Joshua Freedman

With the synthetics brand now a reality, Lightbox managing director Steve Coe talks about what’s next for the project.

De Beers shocked the industry in May by announcing it would launch a line of fashion jewelry featuring laboratory-grown diamonds. Lightbox Jewelry started selling the products online in September, and it’s now looking at expansion options.

The main opportunity to develop the business will come once the miner has finished building a $94 million synthetic-diamond facility in Oregon in 2020. That center will grow about 500,000 carats of rough per year, providing Lightbox with the bulk of its supply and complementing existing production from its facility in Ascot, UK.

Partners in shine

The company is currently only selling the jewelry on its own website, but plans to enter into partnerships with retailers for online and in-store sales.

A number of retailers have already expressed an interest in stocking the product, according to Lightbox managing director Steve Coe, who spoke with Rapaport Magazine earlier this year.

We’ve started to have some very preliminary discussions with a few, but as we’ve made clear from the start, our first step is going to be to sell this product [through] e-commerce,” he says. “Our hope would be that we could add a few retailers during 2019. To be honest, it’s going to be somewhat limited in 2019, because it’s not until our new manufacturing plant in Portland, Oregon, comes online in 2020 that we’re really going to have substantial volumes that we could roll out to a wider retailer base.”

Lightbox will probably partner with fewer than 10 retailers in the next year, though those companies will span many more individual stores, he continues. In the long term, he expects the jewelry to appear at retailers ranging from one-shop independents to national chains.

Colorful future

Lightbox’s initial focus is the US market, as it has the biggest consumer base. The brand could expand farther afield once supply has increased post-2020, Coe points out.

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Source Rapaport