LVMH Luxury Ventures, the conglomerate’s investment arm, has taken a stake in Lusix, the lab-grown diamond company headed and owned by Israeli billionaire Benny Landa.
LVMH Luxury Ventures was the “most prominent,” though not necessarily the largest, investor in a $90 million funding round, Landa said during a press conference at the JCK Las Vegas show.
Two Israeli funds, Ragnar Crossover Fund and More Investments, also participated.
LVMH-owned watch brand TAG Heuer has used Lusix diamonds to create a limited-edition watch.
Landa declined to discuss whether any other LVMH brands will use its lab-grown diamonds in the future, or if TAG Heuer will produce other watches with lab-grown diamonds.
“I cannot speak on behalf of LVMH,” he said. “Clearly, they have made a financial investment. But I would ask myself, ‘Why would a luxury brand make a financial investment?’ There’s obviously very good reasons.”
Executives at LVMH Luxury Ventures and LVMH’s press contacts did not return requests for comment. The LinkedIn profile of LVMH Luxury Ventures CEO, Julie Bercovy—who is now a Lusix board member—said, “The companies in which LVMH Luxury Ventures invests will be managed independently in order to reinforce their entrepreneurial spirit and are not intended to be acquired by the LVMH Group.”
Other businesses LVMH Luxury Ventures has invested in include watch publication and e-tailer Hodinkee and fashion brands Gabriela Hearst and Aimé Leon Dore.
Lusix also unveiled a new tagline for its diamonds: “sun-grown,” as it uses solar power to create its diamonds.
“Some companies say, ‘well, we use solar power,’ ” Landa said. “They put a few panels on their roof.… Growing diamonds is a very energy-intensive process. It takes a lot of power. And so you need to have a massive investment in solar farms. [W]e have a 30-megawatt solar farm that powers our factory, which produces more power than we consume.”
He said his company is able to grow pyramid-size diamonds—maximizing weight retention—as well as customizable shapes.
“We are the cutting-edge in this industry,” he said. “I don’t want to sound arrogant, but we think that the gap between us and the next nearest player is going to be significant.”
He noted that one-third of Lusix’s employees work in research and development.
“We have the world’s most advanced, fully automated, fully computerized, operation,” he said. “Our technology is 100% developed at home. We have developed our own reactors, we build our own reactors, we don’t provide them to anybody else. We are completely vertically integrated, from the theoretical modeling that we do to the research and development to growing the diamonds.”
Despite its sunshiny new tagline, Lusix isn’t planning any consumer outreach.
“We sell to retailers and to wholesalers. But our objective is for consumers to identify Lusix as being the standard for sustainable, high-quality diamonds. Just as Intel does not produce computers, but every quality computer says ‘Intel Inside.’… We want the ultimate consumers to say ‘I want jewelry with a Lusix diamond.’ ”
Getting that message across will be a “process,” Landa said.
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