National Jeweler talks to two analysts about market share and where the stones go from here.
Though lab-grown diamonds still make up a small percentage of the overall diamond jewelry market, their share is growing.
The category slowly has been building in market share as production ramps up and more consumers opt for a man-made stone, with the U.S. market being the largest by far for the products.
Both use their own research and analysis to create the data shared below, which is based on their estimates and forecasts.
An upward curve
Looking at the market over the past five years shows an interesting growth curve.
Prior to 2018, lab-grown diamond jewelry sales totaled less than $1 billion, representing less than 1 percent of the total global diamond jewelry market, Zimnisky estimates. (Though these are global figures, Zimnisky noted that the U.S. makes up the majority of the market—more than 90 percent.)
Golan’s estimates for 2018 have lab-grown diamonds accounting for less than 1.5 percent of all diamond sales by specialty retailers in the United States.
By the following year, that had crept up to more than 2 percent, he said, and it’s continued to grow, especially as more producers, like De Beers with its Lightbox brand, have come online.
By 2020, the stones’ market share had increased to about 3.5 percent, and last year it neared 5 percent, indicating continued growth in consumer awareness and acceptance of the product, Golan said.
Overall, Golan said lab-grown diamonds were a $3.9 billion business in the U.S. in 2021.
Zimnisky’s estimates for the market are more bullish.
His research indicates that in 2021, global lab-grown diamond jewelry sales totaled approximately $5.9 billion, representing 7 to 8 percent of the total diamond jewelry market.
According to these two experts, there’s no doubt the lab-grown diamond market will continue to grow, especially as producers ramp up supply and major retailers, like Signet and Pandora, continue to increase their lab-grown diamond inventory.
“All things being equal, a 7 percent share in 2022 is not an unlikely scenario,” Golan said.
Zimnisky, meanwhile, said lab-grown jewelry sales could near $8 billion-plus in 2022, approaching 10 percent of the total diamond jewelry market, and near the $10 billion mark by 2023.
Bridal vs. fashion
One of the biggest conversations around lab-grown diamonds is, what will consumers buy them for, exactly? Bridal or fashion jewelry?
Currently, about 60 percent of lab-grown diamond sales by value at specialty jewelers are bridal, according to Golan, who noted that’s largely because engagement rings generally cost more than fashion pieces.