Lab-grown diamonds are shaking up an industry that’s been ruled by mined diamonds for centuries. But while many jewelers and jewelry brands are picking one or the other — Pandora sells exclusively lab-grown diamonds, for example — DTC jewelry brand Mejuri sees a place for both.
On Monday, after selling jewelry made with mined diamonds since it was founded in 2015, Mejuri is launching lab-grown diamonds for the first time. It’s kicking off the category with a selection of classic Mejuri diamond styles recreated with lab-grown diamonds in larger sizes and available only to members of Mejuri’s loyalty program.
It took two years of development to get to this point, according to Nicole Tapscott, CMO of Mejuri, and Holly McHugh, Mejuri’s vp of sustainability. According to McHugh, because there’s a wide variety of lab-grown diamond options on the market, with varying levels of quality, it took time to sort through them. Ultimately, Mejuri decided to buy lab-grown diamonds strictly from companies that have been certified by SCS Global Services. The organization certifies lab-grown diamonds that are fully traceable and climate-neutral.
“Diamonds have been a huge component of our growth, historically,” Tapscott said. Jewelry featuring diamonds makes up 35% of Mejuri’s sales, and the category is growing 30% year-over-year. Mejuri has raised over $100 million in total since it was founded and has built a loyal fanbase. More than 50% of its purchases come from repeat customers.
“We’ve always used mined diamonds, but our customers are asking for more options. They’re excited by the sustainable aspect of lab-grown [diamonds] and that they can get bigger styles at similar price points.”
That’s been confirmed based on the activity of Mejuri’s loyalty members, who join through the Mejuri+ mobile app. Despite only launching in September, the app already has 1.3 million users. Many have been lured by the promise of exclusive products like the first wave of lab-grown diamonds, Tapscott said.
More lab-grown diamond product drops will come soon. They’ll include existing Mejuri diamond jewelry styles remade with lab-grown diamonds, as well as new styles that are only available as lab-grown diamond exclusives. Tapscott said the plan is not to differentiate too heavily between the lab-grown diamond and mined diamond styles, with prices being the most obvious differentiator. Tapscott said the same product that comes with a 0.5-carat mined diamond can be bought with a one-carat lab-grown diamond for the same price. The operations for both, including the timelines for receiving required materials and designing styles, are quite similar, McHugh said.
While both will also be marketed in similar ways, “the consumers who want lab-grown diamonds are looking for the lab-grown diamond story,” McHugh said. She added, “They want the assurance that comes with knowing exactly where this product came from.”
Initial marketing plans for the category will focus on Mejuri’s loyalty members before branching out to the rest of the customer base through social channels.
Mejuri launched lab-grown sapphires last month, and its audience has already embraced them. In the first week, Mejuri made 202% of its revenue goal for the collection. Across the industry, the lab-grown diamond market is blowing up. Sales in the category have increased from under $1 billion in 2016 to just under $12 billion in 2022, according to industry analyst Paul Zimnisky.
Relations between companies that specialize in lab-grown and organizations that support mined diamonds like the Natural Diamond Council haven’t always been friendly. Mined diamond companies have spent millions of dollars on campaigns to disparage lab-grown diamonds.
But Tapscott said she doesn’t see any reason the two should be opposed.
“We’re going all in on this,” she said.