A test case for vertical integration is no more
When talking to Stuller vice president of diamonds and gemstones Stanley Zale about the company’s plan to sell lab-grown diamonds, I learned some equally surprising news: The company is no longer a De Beers sightholder.
In 2005, it was something of a coup when the jewelry manufacturer—located in Lafayette, La., a far cry from Belgium, India, and even New York—received sightholder status. I wrote back then: “The partnership between the DTC and Stuller is being watched as a test case of Supplier of Choice’s model of supplying diamonds to nontraditional ‘downstream’ companies.”
In the decade since, manufacturing has become far less profitable. And as Stuller was, as I wrote, a nontraditional sightholder, it wasn’t bound by the traditional De Beers client mind-set—while it seemed to like being a sightholder, that wasn’t its main selling proposition. When, last year, it found buying from De Beers no longer fit its needs, it walked away.
Stuller will keep manufacturing diamonds, as the need arises, but this little experiment in vertical integration appears to be over.
On a related topic, we received some hostile comments to our story about Stuller selling lab-grown diamonds (which was not related to this other news).
This puzzles me. First, Stuller already sells moissanite and other lab-created gems; this was a logical and not out-of-character move for it. And while I understand why some in the industry fear lab-grown diamonds, they are a legitimate, legal product (provided they are sold legitimately and legally), which are not going away. They are now part of our industry, and may play an even bigger role in the future. I know many have an issue with the way some lab-grown diamond producers market their stones, as they feel their marketing casts aspersions on natural diamonds. But that’s all the more reason why it’s good to have a company like Stuller—which, like many jewelers, has skin in the natural game—selling them responsibly.