Noah Brier | March 25, 2019

Why is this interesting? - Monday, March 25

A deep dive into synthetic diamonds (and a bonus cactus)

The diamond industry is basically one big marketing case study. There’s the “Diamond is Forever” campaign, as well as the notion that people should spend two months salary on a ring, lest they be seen as a cheapskate. Hell, the entire idea of an engagement ring came from De Beers, the largest diamond company. It would make sense, then, that the entire industry is in a bit of turmoil with the rise of synthetic diamonds.

Traditional diamonds are formed from millions of years of geological pressure, and are extracted from mines deep in the earth, often by slave labor. This, according to the Times, “along with tight industry manipulation and marketing that leads to a perception of rarity and mystique, drives their prices.”

With so-called lab grown diamonds:

A hydrocarbon gas mixture is ionized by microwaves or lasers in a vessel at temperatures of about 800 degrees Celsius. This breaks the molecular bonds of the gases, spurring carbon atoms to be deposited on a diamond seed, growing into a crystal, layer by layer over days and weeks.

As Reuters reports, “A poll of 2,000 female millennials by Berenberg Research found that 53 percent would happily accept a lab-grown diamond engagement ring - with acceptance ranging from 62 percent in Japan to 56 percent in the United States and 40 percent in China.”

Lab-grown still only represents a small portion of the $87 billion diamond jewelry market, but it is estimated to grow to $14.9 billion by 2035.

Why is this interesting?

Turns out that the tide is so strong that De Beers,the industry’s iron fist, has started a synthetic sub-brand called Lightbox.

Also, for the modern consumer who looks a bit under the hood before buying, the labor practices and marketing games seem distinctly old world. What could be better than something more transparent, driven by technology and innovation?

Go deeper with the Economist’s video on the topic. (CJN)

Ad of the Day:

I really like this KFC ad from the UK along with this write up on the likely strategy behind it from Northern Planner. (NRB)

Cactus of the Day:

From yesterday’s visit to the Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech, adjacent the YSL museum. It’s the dark heart of fashion Instagram bait, but the beautiful cacti are worth the visit. (CJN)

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Thanks for reading,

Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN)

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