Lightbox, De Beers’ lab-grown diamond subsidiary, is expanding is operations. The company today reveals the opening of an Oregon manufacturing facility, which will ultimately grow its diamond-producing capacity by about 10 times.
The new $94 million facility is located just outside Portland in Gresham, Ore., and will employ about 60 engineers and other staff. With this new space, Lightbox will produce about 200,000 carats of polished diamonds a year.
Currently Lightbox diamonds are set at the flat rate of $800 per carat, and come in white, pink and blue color tones. Diamonds are guaranteed at VS quality and nearly colorless and are available from 0.10 up to one carat. The company is currently in the research and development phase to produce larger stones, and says that a one carat lab diamond takes between two and three weeks to grow.
“The new facility opening is so exciting for us because it dramatically increases our availability of product. We are making continuous improvements. One of the great things about this Oregon space is having a state-of-the-art facility gives us a robust platform to improve year-over-year with larger size stones and lower costs — which gives us flexibility to lower our pricing in the future and reduce our environmental impact,” said Steve Coe, Lightbox chief executive officer.
Since Lightbox launched in 2018, consumer awareness around lab-grown stones has grown. “I think what we are seeing what lab-grown brings is low pricing and greater accessibility,” said Coe. “It’s no longer something you give for special events, it’s potentially something you could have every birthday. For some consumers, it makes it more of a regular gifting opportunity and for other consumers it opens a door to the spark of diamond,” said Coe, who noted that the company has observed a high level of repeat purchases, at a rate that is uncommon of natural stones.
Flush with a new supply of stones, Lightbox has signed on its first major third-party retailer. The company has teamed with Blue Nile on a special collection of holiday jewelry, with 60 pieces priced from $700 to $1,200 on average. Blue Nile’s ceo Sean Kell said that these pieces, set in 14 karat yellow or white gold, would be “outrageously expensive” if made with natural diamonds.
“We have been thinking pretty hard about [lab diamonds], talking to consumers about how they could or would fit into our brand and our merchandise strategy,” said Kell. “We decided that the trend is not going away — these are beautiful stones and the quality and availability of stones has improved dramatically, even over the last year or so. It made sense to us to dip our toe into market.”