The business of producing and selling diamonds, long known as conservative and insulated from change, is being reshaped by a wide spectrum of forces that include volatile demand, new production technologies, advances in laboratory gem-making and questions about financial transparency. The mining of diamonds is still dominated by a few large companies, such as De Beers and Alrosa. But consumer demand has been stagnant as tastes change and marriage rates fall, especially among the Millennials who make up an increasing share of the market. Lab-produced diamonds are improving in quality and growing in availability. Companies are moving to improve transparency, including the use of blockchain technology to track diamonds and assure customers that the diamonds they buy do not contribute to conflicts or human rights abuses. And online sales of diamonds are rising much faster than sales in brick-and-mortar stores.read full report
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Will lab-grown gems supplant mined stones?
Children work at an illegal diamond dig in Sierra Leone. The Kimberley Process, developed to curb trade in so-called conflict diamonds, does not do enough to address human rights abuses such as this, according to critics. (Ami Vitale/Getty Images)