Stock - Diamond (Siroya Jewellers)
As good as the 'natural'? A pair of lab grown stones at Siroya Jewellers await shoppers. A handful of retailers are testing likely demand among UAE's consumers for lab grown versions. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Want to buy some less expensive diamond jewellery in the UAE? Then, it’s the right time to choose some ‘lab grown’ options.

A handful of UAE-based jewellers, including Damas and Siroya, have just introduced fully-certified imported lab grown diamond collections at some of their stores. If they can find enough shoppers interested in this option, it could be one of the emerging trends within the wider gold and jewellery market in the UAE. And it could be just what diamond demand needed to make it appealing to a wider consumer base.

With retail prices anywhere between 30-50 per cent lower than natural diamond jewellery sets, the lab grown can appeal to a shopper who still wants her diamonds but is particular about not wanting to pay beyond a limit.

What are these 'lab grown' diamond about?
Also known as 'man-made' diamonds, these are made in controlled laboratory environments using processes that mimic the conditions under which diamonds develop under the Earth. The lab diamonds feature carbon atoms arranged in a typical diamond crystal structure. They exhibit the same optical and chemical properties as the 'real' stones.

“The concept of selling lab grown diamonds has been gaining popularity in America and elsewhere – it was only a matter of time before these came to the UAE,” said Chandu Siroya, owner of Siroya Jewellers. “There was only one retailer selling these in the UAE, and now it has gone up to three. More will follow as consumers are in the mood to try new options.

“It was during last year’s lockdown phase that we thought we should experiment with something new to widen the local shopper numbers for jewellery. A lower cost, fully certified diamond buying experience felt like the right thing to do.”

Stock - Diamonds (Siroya Jewellers)
These lab grown diamonds are 30-50 per cent lower on their retail pricing than the natural ones. Jewellers believe this will appeal to a younger shopper who is not that keen about gold, as well as to a Western consumer base. Pictured here are Chandu Siroya (left) and Rohan Siroya with some of their imported lab grown choices. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Been around a while

Lab grown diamonds have been around for just over a decade, but they now have the backing of fully transparent certification and all other process required to convince shoppers it is worth giving these a try. Especially among a younger generation of shoppers, especially from the West.

“No one will think of buying a lab grown solitaire as their wedding ring – that’s still all about natural diamonds,” said Shaunak Shastree, General Manager of IGI (International Gemological Institute, which does the certification for all types of diamonds. “But for those occasions where it is less about emotional appeal, then lab grown diamond jewellery stand a good chance. At up to 50 per cent lower price points than natural, they do offer a value proposition.”

Currently, diamond sales make up 30-40 per cent of the overall jewellery market in the UAE. In the last 10 years, retailers have tried to steer shoppers here from their fixation with gold. With the help of industry giants such as De Beers, retailers have emphasized that diamonds too are an inherent store of wealth, in the same way that gold is. ‘Polki’ diamonds – which are uncut stones - remain eternal popular with shoppers from the Subcontinent.

Even then, diamond buying remains driven by emotional/sentimental factors than all the calculations that make up a typical gold jewellery purchase. With lab grown diamonds on offer, retailers are hoping they will be able to reach a new set of shoppers who would not have anything to do with buying or wearing gold.

Stock - Diamonds (IGI)
The deep testing that goes on before a diamond is certified. According to Shaunak Shastree of IGI, shoppers will need to ensure whatever lab grown diamond sets they are buying is backed by the right sort of paperwork. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Check the certification

With a handful of retailers launching their collections, the likes of “IGI will be a key midwife for lab grown diamonds to reach their potential,” said Shastree. “All of the collections will be imported, and shoppers need to be doubly sure that they are backed by the proper certifications.”

Siroya Jewellers is sourcing its lab grown collections from a company in India. “There are strict certification protocols for these diamonds, and it’s the duty of retailers to educate shoppers on these,” said Siroya. “Lab grown diamonds are gaining popularity in the West. if consumers in a couple of systemically important jewellery markets such as India follow, the same will happen here.”

On how soon that is likely to happen, Siroya said: “That remains a million dollar question.”