Patrick Evans, who left Canada’s Dominion Diamond in December, will pick a location in the US with access to cheap solar power to produce lab-grown diamonds targeting the bridal market.
The development comes after a decision by the world’s largest diamond miner De Beers to start selling lab-grown diamond jewellery in September for the first time in its 130-year history. The miner is spending $94m on a plant in Oregon to produce the diamonds using cheap hydropower, but is targeting the fashion jewellery market rather than engagement diamonds.
The move has accelerated a fall in the price of lab-grown diamonds compared with natural stones. The average discount for a 1-carat lab-grown stone compared with a natural diamond has increased from 29 per cent in January 2018 to 43 per cent, according to Paul Zimnisky, a diamond analyst in New York.
But Mr Evans, a 22-year veteran of the diamond industry, said that his company would sell gem-quality diamonds larger than one carat for the engagement market. It hopes to achieve pricing at a discount of only 15 to 20 per cent off the cost of natural diamonds.