At JCK Las Vegas, lab-grown-diamond exhibitors have mushroomed nearly as much as opinions about the stones themselves. To accommodate growing market needs, organizers debuted the Lab-Grown Diamond Neighborhood at the 2018 edition of the trade fair.
“There may have been exhibitors that had lab-grown in the show in earlier years, but they weren’t grouped together in a neighborhood until 2018,” says Sarin Bachmann, event vice president for JCK and Luxury. “Lab-grown diamonds are a growing segment, and it became important for our buyers to have clear delineation of the category.”
This is why the show added a 6,400-square-foot designated section for 29 lab-grown exhibitors to display both loose stones and finished jewelry last year. It’s also why the area increased its footprint by 40% this year, with nearly double the number of participants.
‘They’re not going away’
Proponents of lab-created diamonds see opportunities for the stones to share case space with mined ones, as lab-grown constitutes another way for consumers to spend discretionary dollars on jewelry as opposed to other product categories.
Indeed, lab-created diamonds helped fourth-generation jeweler Pia Aiya’s family business stay afloat during the recession. “Lab-growns came out of need but grew into something more,” says the Aiya Designs director of operations. “They are another avenue or tool.”
Raj Vaidya, owner of six-month-old DiamSpark Lab Grown Diamonds, agrees. “They’re not going away,” says Vaidya, whose parent company has been in the mined-diamond industry for 25 years.
“The affordability of lab-growns has increased the public’s awareness of them,” he adds. “And the industry is actually buying them in large-scale quantities — like 1,000 at a time. They are not on memo.”
Price may be the biggest factor in customers’ purchasing decisions — synthetic diamonds can cost a third of what natural ones do, according to interviewees — while sustainability and transparent sourcing are close behind.