Pure Grown, the man-made diamond company formerly known as Gemesis, is selling a 3 ct. K SI stone—which it calls the largest colorless diamond ever produced by nonnatural means.
Lisa Bissell, the Fabrikant veteran recently appointed president and CEO of the company, says that she has every intention of selling the gem, which has a report from the International Gemological Institute. “I don’t run a museum,” she says. She predicts it may fetch $21,000.
With Bissell taking over, the rechristened New York City–based company—owned by Suraj Mehta, son of Indian diamantaire Jatin Mehta—is solely devoted to sales and marketing.
“I am here to produce a brand,” she tells JCK in her first interview since taking the position.
Many of the company’s stones are created by Singapore-based IIa Technologies—headed by Suraj’s brother Vishal—although it also buys from other sources, Bissell says.
Bissell says the diamonds sell for around 25 percent less than comparable naturals. The company plans to continue to sell through its website, but it also hopes to sell to manufacturers and independents and is planning to produce its own jewelry.
Most of the colorless diamonds it sells are in the half-carat range, but it also has in stock some colored diamonds, including yellows and pinks. Noting it is not economical to produce melee, she doesn’t expect her stones will work for fashion pieces and considers them better suited for bridal items. And despite her Fabrikant background, Bissell doesn’t think her product is well suited for the mass market.
“It’s not a low-end product,” she says, “so it doesn’t lend itself to that.”
While she says it is not clear how many carats the company plans to market, she adds supply is pretty steady, and her job is take the company to the next level with proper education and a consistent message for both the trade and consumers.
“You cannot come with a tray of rings and say, ‘Here I am,’ ” Bissell says. “You need a bigger story behind it.”
Along those lines, she plans some form of consumer advertising or outreach but says there are no set plans right now.
She adds her company is committed to disclosure, and all its stones have girdle inscriptions signifying their origin. It also insists sellers be open about their origin, as required by the Federal Trade Commission guidelines.
“I turn down people every day if they don’t agree to disclose,” she says.
And Bissell says the traditional industry should not be afraid of this category, noting that it still represents a small faction of the business.
“We can coexist,” she says. “We are part of the diamond ecosystem. This is just giving customers a choice.”
The product will be pitched to eco-conscious consumers, she adds, who like that these diamonds aren’t produced by mines and can be certified as conflict-free.
“There is a whole group of people that these issues are real important to,” she says.
Like others in her industry, she considers the word synthetic inappropriate for her product.
“The FTC has said that synthetic is confusing to consumers,” she says. “But organizations choose to be confusing with their choice of words. I don’t think that is the proper word—nothing is synthesized. Synthesis is combining elements. Diamond is all carbon.”
As for herself, she says her background makes her a good fit to chart this new course.
“I’m a diamond baby,” she says. “I grew up in the diamond business. I may be one of the few people in the grown biz who is involved in the jewelry business.”
“This is so exciting,” Bissell says, “it’s a new opportunity in a mature industry.”