Former Shinola president looks for success in lab-grown diamond business


Jacques Panis, Shinola’s former president, has joined a lab-grown diamond start-up called New World Diamonds.

Appointed to take the company in the same direction as he did with Shinola, and become a popular luxury brand across the US, Panis told Crain’s Detroit Business he does not believe it is his watch or jewellery expertise that got him the job.


He said: “I would argue watches and jewellery have very similar product development paths from sketches all the way to the finished product. It was more about my experience in building brands, marketing and driving the growth of a business, I’m an entrepreneur.”

According to Crain’s Detroit Business, he joined New World Diamonds in July as its CEO and appointed Chris Quezada, former digital art director at Shinola, as creative director.

The duo then went on to put together the branding for the start-up and launched the company’s website in mid-November.

The business seems to be heading in the right direction and, if an opinion piece on WatchPro’s sister publication Professional Jeweller has anything to go by, Panis is onto something.

Alan Frampton, jewelry director at Cred, described how he believes lab grown diamonds are here to stay.

He wrote: “According to a study by Princetown University the carbon footprint of a lab grown is 18-22% of a mined diamond. Some manufacturers are now carbon neutral.

“In 2008 it cost $4000 to produce 1ct of lab grown – now its $300-500.

Adding: “In the USA, in 2016 39% of consumers were willing to purchase an engagement ring with a lab grown diamond – in 2018 its 70%.”

This growth points to potential success for Panis’ new firm.

Frampton concluded: “At an average of 30% cheaper at retail you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work out what will happen.”

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