For Diamonds, It Matters Who De Beers Hooks Up With Next – by Carol Ryan ( Street Journal – June 8, 2024)

Is it more romantic to buy a diamond that formed in the bowels of the earth than one grown in a lab? Young American couples don’t think so.

That is awkward for diamond miner De Beers, especially now that it is looking for a new owner. Mining conglomerate Anglo American, which has been a top shareholder in the world’s best-known diamond producer for almost a century, wants to sell or separately list it as part of a radical breakup plan.

The diamond industry is going through a rough patch, so the timing isn’t great. Jewelry sales boomed in 2022 as consumers splurged on luxury goods, but last year they pulled back. Weak demand has sent diamond prices to 2003 levels, says Liberum analyst Ben Davis.

Moreover, traditional diamonds are increasingly being challenged by lab-grown ones, which cost a fifth of the price. In April, 45% of all engagement rings sold in the U.S. had a synthetic stone, according to Edahn Golan Diamond Research & Data. It is impossible to tell whether a diamond is natural or lab-grown with the naked eye, and they have the same chemical makeup.

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