India's Lab Grown Gift to the USJune 28, 23
The world's biggest diamond manufacturing country presented the world's biggest diamond buying nation with a gift last week. A lab grown diamond.
First Lady Jill Biden, wife of the US President Joe Biden, was, by all accounts, delighted to receive the 7.5-ct F / VVS2 gem from India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Gifts formally exchanged between heads of state are highly symbolic. The fact that India selected a diamond that was grown in a lab, rather than one mined from the ground, sends a clear and very sustainable message.
It was, said Greenlab, the Mumbai-based company that grew the diamond, a "remarkable moment" that signified a groundbreaking shift in the diamond industry, embracing innovative technologies and sustainable practices.
India's Ministry of External Affairs was so excited about the gem's environmental credentials that it described the white gem (somewhat confusingly) as a "green diamond".
Miraj Patel, chief sales officer at Greenlab, told us: "It gives me pride that the government is supporting and promoting the more eco-friendly choice, which reflects their commitment to the people and the planet."
The company, previously known as M Kantilal Exports, switched from natural diamonds - which it had been manufacturing and exporting for 45 years - to producing its own CVD stones.
It now relies entirely on its own home-grown stones and describes itself as the largest cultivator of lab grown diamonds in the world.
"Five years ago we started with 30 machines, now we're at 1,300 machines," said Patel. "We're producing 200,000 carats a month from minus two (0.90mm to 1.25mm) all the way up to 35 carats, mainly EFG and VS+.
Production is powered entirely by a 25 megawatt solar plant - with panels across 90 acres - and a 15 megawatt windmill plant.
"I think we're the only growers in India right now that are 100 per cent running on renewable energy, not a single unit of electricity that is not non-renewable energy. That's why the government chose us."
It took 38 to 40 days to grow the 17-carat rough stone, he said, and 20 to 24 days to process and certify it, including a treatment to improve it from G color to F.
"From the growing stage to the final stage, it would easily have passed through 100 pairs of hands," said Patel.
Greenlab has 3,500 employees, working 24/7. Polishers prefer working with lab growns, says Patel, because they're paid a fixed amount per carat and get to polish a lot more lab growns because the per carat price is so much lower.
"A polisher takes three or four days to polish one stone. With lab growns they can do it in one-and-a-half to two days, because that pressure is not on that they can't even lose five cents.
"The polishers working with mined diamonds want to leave and go to lab run companies to polish stones because there's a constant supply of stones for them to polish."
The market for lab growns in India is growing exponentially, he says. "All the younger generation really understand the product.
"They know what it is, they have no stigma against it. And it's more affordable. You're getting the same thing for a 10th of the price."
And market prices are falling, although he believes they may have hit their low point.
"You could say that the bottom has come because there are so many growers who can't afford to grow at the prices that the market has reached."
Have a fabulous weekend.