The biggest challenge for lab-grown diamond producers is finding and hiring enough skilled scientists and technicians to make them quickly and reliably enough in quality and quantity to meet orders
Earlier this year, Frédéric Arnault, the lanky twentysomething head of LVMH’s Tag Heuer brand and potential heir to the Paris-based luxury empire, presented a novelty at the Watches and Wonders fair in Geneva that would have been previously unthinkable for a company dealing in the real and rare: a 350,000-Swiss-franc ($470,000) timepiece featuring diamonds grown in a laboratory.
The glitzy little number, named the Carrera Plasma, is the most expensive product in the 160-year history of Swiss-based Tag Heuer. It boasts a 44-millimetre sandblasted aluminum case set with 48 diamonds and a rhodium-plated brass base dial covered with a single block of polycrystalline diamond.
Topping it off is a crown made from a 2.5-carat diamond at the side. And all these diamonds are lab grown – that is, produced by people in a factory through a controlled technological process, not created naturally by geology and pulled out of the earth.
“We thought, ‘We want to be the first to come with a true, ambitious, innovative vision using lab-grown diamonds,’” Mr. Arnault told an interviewer at the fair. “This is a showpiece of savoir-faire and technology.”
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