In April, Clive Hill, the president of WD Lab Grown Diamonds, spoke to JCK at the company’s headquarters in Maryland. Here, the former CEO of U.K. retailer Fraser Hart discusses patent issues, why he’s not concerned if lab-grown prices go down, and what he would say to those worried about the product.
You have alleged that other growers are infringing on the patents WD licensed from the Carnegie Institute for growing diamonds with the chemical vapor deposition (CVD) method, as well as for post-growth treatment. They deny this. Will you act on that?
We have sent a number of letters in the past. We will be moving to a rather more significant level. Within a very short period of time, we will start action with some retailers [that sell allegedly infringing products]. If we have to end up in court, we will end up there.
Hopefully we can pick one or two [retailers to work with] and people will cooperate with us a bit better. We want to work with people. That is our modus operandi. But we want it to be fair.
In some cases, the prices of lab-grown diamonds have been falling. Do you see that as an issue?
I always feel that question is a little bit back to front. What is really happening, as I see it, is consumers are getting more for their dollar. They look at us and they say, “This is a technology business; I expect to get a little bit more than I did last year.”
What do you see as the future of the lab-grown sector?
Lab-grown will take market share from mined stones. That’s inevitable; that is not preventable. I have been a retailer. I understand how frightening this change must be to a lot of the traditional retailers. Someone who has been in a relatively slow-moving business their whole life is suddenly faced with this thing changing—it has got to be scary. They have got to be worried. But they have to do what consumers want. The reality is, this genie is not going back in the bottle.
Top: A 9.04 ct. round brilliant diamond, grown with WD Lab Grown Diamonds’ CVD process