Dubai to host world’s first public sale of synthetic diamonds

Around 50,000 carats of diamonds to be tendered on Dubai Diamond Exchange
Synthetic diamonds at De Beers' Institute of Diamond Grading. Dubai will host the world's first auction of such stones. Reuters
Synthetic diamonds at De Beers' Institute of Diamond Grading. Dubai will host the world's first auction of such stones. Reuters

Dubai is to host the world’s first sale of laboratory-made diamonds held on a public exchange next week, as it looks to increase its activities in the emerging sector.

Approximately 50,000 carats of Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD) lab-grown diamonds in 55 parcels are being tendered on Dubai Diamond Exchange on May 11, 12 and 13.

DDE is the only trading platform in the Middle East to trade in diamonds and coloured stones, and affiliated with the World Federation of Diamond Bourses. The exchange is housed within the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre, the free trading zone where around 1,000 gemstone trading businesses are registered.

The sale is being organised by Hong Kong-based diamond trader Tony’s Auction World. “Lab-grown diamonds offer a different value proposition to natural diamonds and trading them in a regulated and open platform increases the transparency and legitimacy of the sales process,” said the company’s chief executive Rushabh Mehta.

“This is a major milestone and testament to both the growing prominence of lab-grown diamonds and their increasing market appeal.”

The tender will help drive new trade flows through Dubai, Ahmed bin Sulayem, executive chairman and chief executive of DMCC, said this week.

Interest in synthetic diamonds is gathering pace globally as the stones are significantly cheaper than natural diamonds. When one of the world’s best-known jewellers De Beers began selling lab-grown diamonds last May, a one-carat synthetic diamond cost around $4,200, compared to $6,000 for a natural mined gem, according to reports at the time.

Since September, the cost of synthetic diamonds has slipped to around $800 a carat.

Consultancy Bain & Company’s 2018 Global Diamond Industry report noted that the cost could decrease further. “Given the pace of declining production costs and wholesale and retail prices, we expect lab-grown stones to become accessible to a wider consumer audience, potentially increasing demand for diamonds in general,” it said.

In the short to medium term, however, growth of lab-grown diamonds is expected to be limited by manufacturing capacity, access to technology, intellectual property issues and availability of funding, the report added.

In Dubai, the sale of synthetic diamonds is regulated by the same laws governing the trading of natural diamonds. Sellers and buyers participating in the DDE tender are mandated to comply with a robust due diligence process in line with DDE’s code of conduct, DMCC said.

“Ensuring the integrity of the sales process is of paramount importance and that is why lab-grown diamond tenders will only take place on the DDE trading floor when both seller and buyer can clearly evidence that the disclosure, detection and differentiation process has been adhered to,” Mr Sulayem said.


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