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Business Observer Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013 7 years ago

Company navigates rough road for sales

A unique local company with the technology and equipment to manufacture diamonds is dealing with some internal turmoil.

A unique local company with the technology and equipment to manufacture diamonds is dealing with some internal turmoil.

The firm, Gemesis Diamond Co., remains in business. But it's doing it out of a new office, still in east Manatee County. Plus, CEO Stephen Lux, who ran the company since November 2006, resigned just before Christmas.

Martin DeRoy, vice president of marketing at Gemesis, deferred questions to the firm's marketing company, Raleigh, N.C.-based French/West/Vaughan. DeRoy declined to comment on who the new top executive is at Gemesis or any change in the company's ownership structure. Lux, through Jan. 29, was still listed as a top officer/director for Gemesis on the Florida Department of State Division of Corporations website.

Officials with French/West/Vaughan didn't respond to written questions or phone calls for comment. DeRoy, in a statement released by French/West/Vaughan when Lux resigned Dec. 20, says “2012 has been a very exciting year of growth and learning for Gemesis. We have aligned our operations and increased marketing following a wonderful response from consumers for lab-grown diamonds.”

The company's website, further, alludes to what potentially could be a big departure from the past, when it focused sales efforts on wholesalers in the diamond industry. The new approach is retail and consumer centric, with a bridal portal and an online wish list.
The promise of Gemesis has nonetheless long outweighed sales.

The company once operated out of a 60,000-square-foot facility in Lakewood Ranch. That's where its machines replicate the conditions under which diamonds are created in nature. The machines apply about 850,000 pounds of pressure per square inch and extreme heat to a tiny synthetic or diamond.

That location is also where, in 2007, Gemesis held a much-celebrated groundbreaking. The reason: It planned to build a 31,000-square-foot expansion to meet expected increased demand.

Then, in summer 2011, the company left that building and moved into another one nearby with less than 25,000 square feet. Lux, at the time, said the new location was “more adequately sized for our business.”

Gemesis, which hasn't disclosed sales figures, has taken more hits of late.

For one, in a December article in JCK Magazine, a jewelry industry trade publication, Lux says he left the company partially because of internal distractions. The Business Observer couldn't reach Lux for comment.

The same publication, formally called Jewelers' Circular Keystone, also reported that diamond entrepreneur Jatin Mehta bought out most of the Gemesis shareholders in October. Metha was an official with Mumbai-based Winsome Diamonds through last November, according to public filings.

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