De Beers Gets Into the Lab Business

So the big news in the De Beers Group’s latest release on the Forevermark is it will be starting a lab.

Yes, a lab. Just like GIA, and IGI, and all the others …. 

The plan is to have two grading labs, one based in Antwerp, the other in the company’s research facility in Maidenhead.

Is this competition for GIA and company? Well, Ellie Goss, head of global public relations for De Beers Group marketing, notes that, while the other labs view grading as a business in itself, the grading here is only a feature to back up the Forevermark. In addition, the lab will only grade Forevermark diamonds (which have to be 18 points, J, SI2, “good” cut, and above).

Here are more details, thanks to Goss:

– The company has hired a group of gemologists for the lab with over “600 years total” of experience. No names yet.

– “The certificates are meant to be something that consumers will keep and cherish, not just file away with insurance documents,” Goss says.

– Regarding the always thorny issue of cut grading, Goss says that De Beers will first use the GIA’s system, then possibly evolve its own.

– The Forevermark’s business model has changed. While in the past, De Beers charged diamantaires to get their diamonds “marked,” now retailers that will install Forevermark boutiques in their stores and then pay a royalty to De Beers. “The reason for this is we found most of the profits were at the retail end, so it makes sense that’s where we charged the royalty,” Goss says.

– The Forevermark will now take up virtually all of De Beers Group’s marketing budget, except in America, where it’s “business as usual,” Goss says.  

Thank you, Ellie. The other big issue here is that labs are meant to give independent opinions. But the Forevermark lab will grade diamonds supplied by its business partners, which certainly leaves it open to being compromised. Goss says that, “De Beers has a reputation and won’t do anything to damage that.” And certainly some would argue that Tiffany has been grading its own diamonds for years.

Forevermark is currently being offered in Hong Kong, China, Japan, Taiwan and India. There is more info on what the Forevermark stands for here.

JCK News Director