The war of words between Rapaport and Diamond Foundry

Rob Bates

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:

It is highly unethical to claim that synthetic diamonds are more ethical than natural diamonds so that you can make more money, while destroying the lives of the poorest and neediest people in the world. Synthetic diamonds are definitely not more ethical than natural fair trade or development diamonds. Those that issue blanket statements and marketing initiatives that claim synthetic diamonds are more ethical than natural diamonds are liars.”

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.

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Source JCK Online