Lab-grown diamond producer Scio Diamond said it has achieved a technological breakthrough that could lead it to double its production in years to come.
“We have changed the technology, the gas mix, and we now have a larger growing platform,” says Michael McMahon, CEO of the Greenville, S.C.–based company. As a result, it’s possible that the company’s planned joint venture factory in China could, in a few years time, produce as many as a million carats annually.
“The company continues its trek to mass production of diamonds,” he says.
While Scio produces items for both gemstone and industrial purposes, “a big percentage of that production is going to be gemstone,” he says.
Its current production is mostly G-H in color, as well as VS to VVS and lower in quality, and weights tend to come in below 1 ct., McMahon says.
“We can grow larger but between a half and one carat is our sweet spot,” he says.
As for pricing, McMahon declined to comment, saying that as a wholesaler, it doesn’t know exactly how much its clients charge.
“Right now they are less expensive than the naturals,” he says. “I don’t know if that will change. The people out there say it’s getting closer to parity.”
But overall, he says, “the demand is awesome and continues to be awesome,” with companies asking for more than it’s currently producing.
Scio has no plans to market the stones itself, considering itself a “diamond mine,” McMahon adds.
Recently, some Scio shareholders, representing 14 percent of its holdings, have filed documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission calling for a vote to replace the company’s current board. The group, which calls itself Save Scio, notes the company’s board currently consists of three people—former Apollo head Robert Linares, his son-in-law Eric Adams, and Theodore Strous, a former head of the Antwerp Diamond Bank. It says the company has already generated $13 million in losses and has yet to turn a profit, and yet the directors have awarded themselves bonuses. The shareholders are asking for a new board, which would include McMahon. Some of the same shareholders have also filed lawsuits challenging the company’s purchase of the assets of the former Apollo Diamond.
McMahon declined to comment on the suits and the filing.