LVMH, owner of diamond jeweller Tiffany & Co., has begun showing clients watches and jewellery featuring lab-created diamonds, testing luxury buyers interest in using man-made stones at the very top end of the market.
In private appointments with clients at its Paris flagship on Rue de la Paix in recent weeks, LVMH's Fred label has been showing a new high-end jewellery set built around lab-created diamonds in an unusual blue hue, meant to evoke the sea and reflect founder's nautical roots, surrounding them with natural, white diamonds.
One of the pieces, a 240,000 euro ($255,000) necklace, features the blue created diamond in half a carat, a colour that took years of research to develop, according to the label.
When asked if LVMH could broaden its use of lab-created stones at Tiffany, finance chief Jean-Jacques Guiony said: "Is it a long-term trend that we could develop elsewhere? It's too early to say," noting that the group's bets on man-made stones must be "weighed and assessed carefully".
Within the sprawling luxury empire, Tag Heuer CEO Frederic Arnault, one of five LVMH heirs, made the first moves to use lab-created diamonds, incorporating them in some of the brand's priciest watches, including a $90,000 timepiece with a 1.3-carat pink created diamond as the crown, unveiled earlier this year.
The use of man-made diamonds in luxury products comes as LVMH remains focused on marketing natural diamonds, particularly at Tiffany, where efforts are led by Frederic Arnault's older brother, Alexandre Arnault, head of product and marketing.
The label, which is pushing into China, emphasises the provenance of the American jeweller's diamonds which are sourced from countries such as Australia, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Canada.
Lab-created diamonds have become more accepted in the United States, where cheaper brands like Pandora and Signet have been increasing their offers of man-made stones.