A debate has erupted over synthetics, ethics, and, of course, Leonardo DiCaprio.
Earlier this month, Martin Rapaport released a typically impassioned jeremiad against synthetic diamond producers—and Silicon Valley startup Diamond Foundry in particular—which has set off a lively debate on various Facebook pages (including mine).
The article, entitled the “Synthetic Diamond Scam,” castigates lab-grown diamond producers for their current marketing:
He also includes a letter to Foundry backer Leonardo DiCaprio—which strikes similar chords to my open letter to DiCaprio in January.
If lab-grown companies tend to hit the ethical note a lot, that may be because the price differential between naturals and lab-growns is still relatively modest. The ethical argument has become their prime selling point.
Even casting aside the arguments pro or con, this poses risks as a marketing gambit. Lab-grown colored stones were rarely billed as ethical alternatives—just nice gems sold at reasonable price points. This won them eventual (if begrudging) trade acceptance. It’s a little puzzling why this model is not followed by the diamond companies, given the trade sensitivity to these issues.