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Interview

Indian-American bringing lab-grown diamonds to the market

Meet Amish Shah, 49, the first person in the world to launch lab-grown diamond jewellery in a retail marketplace as News Arena India talks with him during his visit to his home state as a speaker at the 10th Vibrant Gujarat.

News Arena Network - Ahmedabad - UPDATED: January 9, 2024, 06:59 AM - 6 mins read

India, Vibrant Gujarat Summit,

Indian-American bringing lab-grown diamonds to the market

Amish Shah. Images via special arrangement.


What are lab-grown diamonds?

 

Very few people still know about lab-grown diamonds. Diamonds that were not born as diamonds, that are not found under the ground, but are created above the land. Made with carbon-neutral material and recycled metals, lab-grown diamonds, are more sustainable and environmentally friendly. 

 

Also, these diamonds are available at 30-70% less cost as compared to mined diamonds. Right now 50% of engagement rings in the United States have lab-grown diamonds. A human eye can't identify between lab-grown and mined diamonds. They can only be identified by using a spectrophotometer. 

 

So tell us about your roots in India.

 

My family has been in the jewellery business for three generations and used to manufacture jewellery for the kings and queens of India. Living with my family in Gujarat’s Surat, I started my journey as a student amazed by science. I had my first job at the age of 12 as a part-time computer teacher. 

 

The attractive remuneration for the job was that it allowed me a few hours inside the computer labs, which was rare at that time, with only two computer labs present in my city. Despite having a scientific mind and a deep interest in computers, I had to finally opt for a commerce degree and join the family business.

 

Born and brought up in India, at 26 I found that things were not working out, I took permission from elders and set out for a life on my own and went to the USA. 

 

I come from a traditional Indian family that has lived in the joint family format. Currently, my family is based out of NY. However, I make it a point to visit India every month to be with my extended family and also because an important part of our business is in India now.

 

How did you get into lab-grown diamonds?

 

After a few years, I was introduced to HPHT technology through my Russian acquaintances, which was used in creating lab-grown diamonds. My scientific mind instantly connected with it, and I started working on the technology.

 

Amish, how did you become the first person to hit the retail market with lab-grown gems?

 

I had my own set of huge challenges and struggles. I was laughed at by Jewelry experts and traders and made fun of during many exhibitions. 

 

However, the turning point came when after exhibiting at Las Vegas, we got a call from Helzberg which is a Warren Buffet company and one of the prestigious jewelry retail brands in the US at that time. Helzberg became the world's first company to display the lab-grown diamonds in the showroom and after that, there was no looking back. 

 

Another turning point came when I had the honour of being a speaker at Dubai’s Lab-grown Diamond Symposium. My speech convinced global diamond experts that lab-grown diamonds are here to stay and lead. I started getting interviewed by global media companies like BBC and CNBC.

 

How much do lab-grown diamonds cost?

Lab-grown diamonds are available at a price as low as 150 GBP per stone. Amish’s brand J’evar has also sold single diamonds worth 100,000 GBP.

 

What is your current business scenario?

Currently, my company J'EVAR holds 48 patents, and our jewelry brands have multi-million-dollar businesses across the US, Europe, Australia and the Middle East. My companies are based out of the US. All the production is done in the Surat in-house facility.

 

How is it beneficial to work from India?

 

The current Indian government has provided the impetus it needs for the growth of this industry. In the previous budget, the government granted GBP 24m for the study of lab-grown diamonds and put it under a high employment segment. Amish was recently invited to speak at the prestigious 10th Vibrant Gujarat Summit which is among the biggest business events worldwide.

 

How does it feel to be invited as a speaker at the prestigious 10th Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2024?

 

I was a panellist for the session “Lab-Grown Diamonds: A Visionary Journey for Gujarat’s Next Quarter Century.” at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit. It was a matter of great pride for me to be speaking at this mega event, especially since it was in my home state, where I grew up as an ordinary human being and struggled through my life. The session participants engaged in a profound exploration of challenges associated with short supply chains, focusing on early movers who laid the foundation for successful brands. 

 

Their discussions provided valuable perspectives on navigating challenges and ensuring sustained growth. The inherent opportunity within lab-grown diamonds lies in their capacity to enhance the allure of these gems, offering consumers a distinctive value proposition. Beyond the ethical and sustainable advantages, consumers can seize the opportunity to acquire larger diamond sizes, superior colour, and clarity.

 

 This not only presents a more cost-effective alternative to traditional diamonds but also provides individuals with the privilege of enjoying heightened quality and aesthetic appeal. Stressing the importance of value creation through branding, design, and marketing I said "The diamond industry needs to transition from a component cost model to value creation. The true value lies in what is created with the component, not just the component itself."

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