Natural diamonds are extremely rare and despite being a pricey stone, the demand for diamonds is not flagging down anytime in near future. In this blog, we will understand how lab-grown diamonds better serve the needs of environment-conscious luxury customers.
After struggling with demand due to the pandemic, the revenue of the diamond industry recovered faster than expected and exceeded pre-Covid 19 levels, says the Global Diamond Report published by Bain.
The report observed that a huge part of this demand is getting diverted to lab-grown diamonds (also called laboratory-grown, sustainable, eco-friendly, environmentally conscious, laboratory-created, man-made, artisan-created, or cultured diamonds).
The global lab-grown diamonds market size was valued at $19.3 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach $49.9 billion by 2030, registering a CAGR of 9.4% from 2021 to 2030.
With lab-grown diamonds becoming the new rage, many luxury brands are now exclusively dealing in these sustainable diamond jewellery only.
These sustainable alternatives are disrupting the natural-mined diamond industry. The sale of rough diamonds had fallen by 25% by the end of 2019. And this trend has been projected to continue over the years.
Let’s understand why lab-grown diamonds are set to give natural diamonds tough competition.
1. Lab Grown Diamonds are Real Diamonds
“The revised guidelines have excluded ‘synthetic’, a clearly misleading term from the prescribed qualifiers,” stated International Grown Diamond Association (IGDA) Secretary General, Richard Garard.
These guidelines by the international authorities signify the wide acceptance of lab-grown diamonds as real diamonds.
Moreover, lab-created diamonds have identical properties to mined diamonds and are known to pass all diamond tests. The only way to determine whether a diamond is lab-made or mined is to send it to a gemological laboratory.
2. Lab Grown Diamonds have Better Quality than Mined Diamonds
The diamonds that are created in the lab are completely pure. They are classified as Type IIa, which is the most prized and collectable type of diamond. They are void of any chemical impurity and the entire diamond crystal is made of pure carbon, enhancing its characteristics.
These visual characteristics such as colour zoning, metallic inclusions, weak strain patterns, and colours of ultraviolet fluorescence make these better diamonds than the mined ones.
Only 5% of mined diamonds can compare to this brilliant quality. FTC explains that the vast majority of natural diamonds contain trace amounts of other substances, particularly nitrogen, which gives them a yellow colour or (rarely) boron, which imparts a blue colour.
In addition, they usually contain inclusions, tiny bits of foreign material that were trapped in the still-forming diamond millions of years ago.
3. Lab Grown Diamonds are Ethically Sourced
From exploration, mining, ore processing, cleaning, industrial sorting, and packaging to sales of rough diamonds which are then cut and polished, there is a long way diamond has to travel to adore your diamond collection.
Unfortunately, Diamond mining has proven to harm not only nature but also lead to the exploitation of people involved in their mining. While populations are displaced and harmed through the mining process, there have been cases of miners being enslaved.
Sometimes, these enslaved miners include underage children, families and even whole communities. Besides the human cost, the impact of mining on earth is devastating.
The process of mining includes an enormous amount of Earth to be cut open and dug out. As a rough estimate of the scale of mining, a 1 carat of gem-quality diamond requires the digging up of 250 tonnes of dirt/ore. Blowing up and digging up mountains worth of earth to find a single diamond result in massive destruction of habitable land.
As concerns are rising over food and water security, soil erosion, rising water levels due to silting, carbon emissions, and toxic air, whole communities and ecosystems are being wiped out.
On the other hand, the diamonds grown in laboratories not only have lesser channels but are cutting down on energy usage. Also, labs manufacturing diamonds are increasingly shifting to renewable energy sources further cutting down carbon footprint on mother Earth.
4. Lab Cultured Diamonds Cost you ~40% less
The long and tedious supply chain is a major reason for the massive price tag of mined diamonds. These channels add up to the diamond's cost without adding that much value to its quality or brilliance.
All the gem-quality diamonds ever mined would fit in one double-decker bus. This rarity and complexity of diamonds and diamond mining respectively add to their cost.
Eco-friendly diamonds continue to diverge into a separate, more affordable jewelry category. They are witnessing continued demand growth and price decreases relative to the natural-mined diamonds.
The average polished lab-grown retail price has decreased by 30% with the average wholesale price dropping to 14% of the natural ones in 2020.
When the diamonds are grown in a laboratory within a controlled environment, the pure carbon adheres to the diamond seed and crystallizes, forming a diamond with the exact same scintillation, flash, fire and brilliance as a mined diamond. This makes it hard to justify paying higher prices for mined diamonds.
5. Lab Grown Diamonds are driving Sustainable Luxury
Now more than ever, luxury customers are looking for sustainable alternatives without compromising their lifestyles. They are skimming for brands that offer transparency in production processes and are conscious of their carbon footprint.
With environmental and social guidelines appearing on agendas of global executives and world leaders, these eco-diamonds are here to stay.
As people have become aware of the dark side of the mining industry, the demand and acceptance of lab-grown alternatives are increasing year by year. With multiple brands investing heavily in innovation to drive sustainability, there are plenty of design options for customers to choose from.
All these factors are helping the rising popularity of lab-grown diamonds.