Global Diamond producer, De Beers Group, a company which operates and mines one of the most valuable diamonds deposits in the world including Botswana’s major pits, on Tuesday announced a watershed entrance into the synthetic diamonds market.
Synthetic diamonds are basically man made gems produced through an artificial process, as opposed to natural diamonds, which occur on geological mineralization processes. De Beers which is 15% and 85% owned by Government of Botswana and Anglo American respectively will enter this market under the operation of a new subsidiary called LightBox Jewelry.
To support Lightbox, De Beers Group is investing a total of US$94 million over four years in a new Element Six production facility near Portland, Oregon, US, adding to Element Six’s existing UK-based facilities. Once fully operational, the plant will be capable of producing upwards of 500,000 rough carats of lab-grown diamonds a year.
According to the leading diamond producer the LightBox Jewelry line will bring something new and innovative to the jewelry sector, featuring pink, blue and white laboratory grown diamonds in a selection of accessibly-priced earrings and necklace designs. Commencing this September, the new retail brand will offer consumers high-quality fashion jewelry designs at lower prices than existing lab-grown diamond offerings. Lightbox lab-grown diamonds will retail from US$200 for a quarter-carat stone to US$800 for a one-carat stone.
“Lightbox will transform the lab-grown diamond sector by offering consumers a lab-grown product they have told us they want but aren’t getting: affordable fashion jewelry that may not be forever, but is perfect for right now,” Bruce Cleaver, CEO, De Beers Group was quoted as saying in international media.
Cleaver says his company makes this move informed by an extensive research that signals consumers regard lab-grown diamonds as a fun, pretty product that shouldn’t cost that much. “We see an opportunity here that’s been missed by lab-grown diamond producers. Lab-grown diamonds are a product of technology, and as we’ve seen with synthetic sapphires, rubies and emeralds, as the technology advances, products become more affordable,” he said.
The move is a historic shift for the company which vowed for years that it wouldn’t sell stones created in laboratories. The strategy is designed to undercut rival lab-diamond makers, who having been trying to make inroads into the $80 billion gem industry. The biggest diamond miner reported on Tuesday that the move followed decades of investment into extensive Research & Development. “While it will be a small business compared with our core diamond business, we think the Lightbox brand will resonate well with consumers at the same time provide a new, complementary commercial opportunity for De Beers Group,” observed the Group CEO.
The General Manager of the new company, Steve Coe highlighted that Lightbox Jewelry will offer consumers something new, sparkle and colors, at a very accessible price. He said in addition to a deep understanding of what consumers want, Lightbox brings innovation and a commitment to transparency to the lab-grown diamond sector.
“We’ve learned from our research that there is a lot of confusion about lab-grown diamonds – what they are, how they differ from diamonds, and how they are valued. Lightbox will be clear with consumers about what lab-grown diamonds are and will offer straightforward pricing that is consistent with the true cost of production.” Coe added that his company will introduce more designs and colours as the range evolves, and the technological efficiency of the proprietary production process.
Lightbox will launch in the US and will initially be available to US-based consumers through the Lightbox e-commerce website, with retail partnerships to be announced in due course. As subsidiary of De Beers Group, Lightbox will be the only jewelry brand to source lab-grown diamonds from De Beers Group’s Element Six business,
Any Lightbox lab-grown diamonds of 0.2 carats or above will carry a permanent Lightbox logo inside the stone invisible to the naked eye but easily identified under magnification. The logo will clearly identify the stone as lab-grown and also serve as a mark of quality and assurance that it was produced by Element Six.
THE SYNTHESIS OF LAB GROWN DIAMONDS
Unlike imitation gems such as cubic zirconia, diamonds grown in labs have the same physical characteristics and chemical makeup as mined stones. They’re made from a carbon seed placed in a microwave chamber and superheated into a glowing plasma ball. The process creates particles that can eventually crystallize into diamonds in weeks. The technology is so advanced that experts need a machine to distinguish between synthesized and mined gems.
This week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka approached parliament seeking lawmakers approval of Government’s intention to increase bond program ceiling from the current P15 Billion to P30 billion.
“I stand to request this honorable house to authorize increase in bond issuance program from the current P15 billion to P30 billion,” Dr Matsheka said. He explained that due to the halt in economic growth occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic government had to revisit options for funding the national budget, particularly for the second half of the National Development Plan (NDP) 11.
Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) has this week revealed a gloomy picture of diamond mining newcomer, Lucara, with its stock devaluated and its entire business affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A BSE survey for a period between 1st January to 31st August 2020 — recording the second half of the year, the third quarter of the year and five months of coronavirus in Botswana — shows that the Domestic Company Index (DCI) depreciated by 5.9 percent.
Botswana Diamond PLC, a diamond exploration company trading on both London Stock Exchange Alternative Investment Market (AIM) and Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) on Monday unlocked value from its shares to raise capital for its ongoing exploration works in Botswana and South Africa.
A statement from the company this week reveals that the placing was with existing and new investors to raise £300,000 via the issue of 50,000,000 new ordinary shares at a placing price of 0.6p per Placing Share.
Each Placing Share, according to Botswana Diamond Executives has one warrant attached with the right to subscribe for one new ordinary share at 0.6p per new ordinary share for a period of two years from, 7th September 2020, being the date of the Placing Warrants issue.
In a statement Chairman of Botswana Diamonds, John Teeling explained that the funds raised will be used to fund ongoing exploration activities during the current year in Botswana and South Africa, and to provide additional working capital for the Company.
The company is currently drilling kimberlite M8 on the Marsfontein licence in South Africa and has generated further kimberlite targets which will be drilled on the adjacent Thorny River concession.
In Botswana, the funds will be focused on commercializing the KX36 project following the recent acquisition of Sekaka Diamonds from Petra Diamonds. This will include finalizing a work programme to upgrade the grades and diamond value of the kimberlite pipe as well as investigating innovative mining options.
Drilling is planned for the adjacent Sunland Minerals property and following further assessment of the comprehensive Sekaka database more drilling targets are likely. “This is a very active and exciting time for Botswana Diamonds. We are drilling the very promising M8 kimberlite at Marsfontein and further drilling is likely on targets identified on the adjacent Thorny River ground,” he said.
The company Board Chair further noted, “We have a number of active projects. The recently acquired KX36 diamond resource in the Kalahari offers great potential. While awaiting final approvals from the Botswana authorities some of the funds raised will be used to detail the works we will do to refine grade, size distribution and value per carat.”
In addition BOD said the Placing Shares will rank pari passu with the Company’s existing ordinary shares. Application will be made for the Placing Shares to be admitted to trading on AIM and it is expected that such admission will become effective on or around 23 September 2020.
Last month Botswana Diamond announced that it has entered into agreement with global miner Petra Diamonds to acquire the latter’s exploration assets in Botswana. Key to these assets, housed under Sekaka Diamonds, 100 % subsidiary of Petra is the KX36 Diamond discovery, a high grade ore Kimberlite pipe located in the CKGR, considered Botswana’s next diamond glory after the magnificent Orapa and prolific Jwaneng Mines.
The acquisition entailed two adjacent Prospecting Licences and a diamond processing plant. Sekaka has been Petra’s exploration vehicle in Botswana for year and holds three Prospecting Licenses in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (Kalahari) PL169/2019, PL058/2007 and PL224/2007, which includes the high grade KX36 kimberlite pipe.