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Las Vegas lowdown: Cautious buying and high hopes for a turnaround

Lab-grown diamond producer, Pure Grown Diamonds, showcased several large man-made stones at its booth. Company director Suraj Mehta said consumers are becoming more aware of lab-growns as an alternative to naturals, in part due to their traceability, but also when it comes to price and appearance. The show came just days after the company announced its Pure Value Guarantee Program, which works to provide assurance lab-grown diamonds offer the same value proposition as a mined diamond. Through the program, retailers can offer their clients returns or trade-ups, helping to ensure the stone’s intrinsic value, which is a point of contention among natural diamonds producers who say lab-growns don’t hold their value because they aren’t rare. (Pure Grown says it will charge a 15 per cent restocking fee on stones returned six months after purchase.)

Mehta disagrees, pointing out the resources required to create a diamond have value. “Growing diamonds is an extremely difficult process,” he said. “It takes a tremendous amount of effort to make lab-growns from the investment side, technology, and intellectual understanding point of view. The costs are quite high to do this and we don’t see the value diminishing.”

The news from the watch aisles seemed cautiously optimistic, though not without concern for how the rest of the year would play out. The Swiss watch industry took a major hit in 2015 on the weakness of the Asian market; 2016 appears to be facing similar struggles, making it critical to attract watch aficionados to counters.

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