As the saying goes ‘Diamonds Are Forever’, unfortunately so are many of the effects of mining them. We know that the mining process still poses a human rights issue in many locations around the world. We also know that mining diamonds has a huge impact on the environment, it is a fossil fuel intensive act that is environmentally damaging (may I suggest googling diamond mine images), and despite many companies now trying to purchase more ethical diamonds, they are still unable to provide the exact location of where that diamond was mined and who handled it before it got to them. Consumers are becoming more conscious about where their purchases are originating from and where their money is going. They want to know if their fruit is local or imported; were their eggs laid by happy hens or caged hens; and if the people making their clothes were paid fairly and looked after. When it comes to diamonds though, most people are still unaware of the impact their sparkly new stone has had on people and place, and are unable to find out where it originated from in the majority of cases.
So what is the answer here? We still want to be able to have the iconic diamond ring for our engagement or wedding, however as we become more and more aware of the impacts that one little stone on our finger has, we have to find another way. Enter lab grown diamonds.
Laboratory grown diamonds are real diamonds, having the same chemical, optical and physical properties as mined diamonds. They are grown from carbon by replicating the intense pressure and heat from within the earth. They are graded on the 4 C’s, carat, cut, colour and clarity. Carat being the weight of the diamond; Cut refers to the proportion, symmetry and polish of the diamond; Colour is the judgement of the transparency of classic diamonds and the intensity of coloured stones; Clarity measures a diamonds imperfections, known as inclusions which can negatively affect a diamonds natural tendency to reflect and scatter light, or sparkle. It is important to note that Lab Grown Diamonds are not cubic zirconia, moissanite or any other inferior material, they are identical to mined diamonds without the ethical or environmental damage. Lab diamonds are able to be checked using independent certification, where the diamonds are identified and graded by the world’s foremost authorities on diamonds like the European Gemological Laboratory (EGL), the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), or the International Gemological Institute (IGI).
So, are people actually purchasing lab grown diamonds over mined diamonds? A recent article on the analysis of the diamond industry by Paul Zimnisky showed that the lab grown diamond market is “At an estimated $1.9 billion dollars today, the lab-grown diamond jewellery market is forecasted to grow at 22% annually to $5.2 billion by 2023 and to $14.9 billion by 2035”. Forbes recently shared that “when given a choice between a 1.9-carat lab-grown diamond and a 1.4-carat mined diamond at the same price, nearly two-thirds (63%) of consumers selected the man-made alternative, according to the IGDA survey among nearly 2,000 recent jewellery purchasers conducted by the research firm MVI. Further more millennials (66%) who were actively shopping for an engagement ring said they would consider a lab-grown diamond and 23% said they would definitely buy a ring with a lab-grown center stone”.
On a local front at Heart In Diamond Australia we have noted a dramatic increase in enquiries for lab grown diamonds. People are looking for something that has meaning, that is personal and has a smaller carbon footprint than the orginal. We know that the need for ethical and environmentally sustainable diamonds is increasing and we are ready to support those looking for this next generation in diamonds. At Heart In Diamond we know exactly where your diamond has come from and who has dealt with it throughout the process. When purchasing diamonds we should all be thinking about human rights, environmental impact and finding out exactly where that diamond has come from. In addition to this, we also want something unique, personal and quite frankly gorgeous, and that is what we provide.
What is particularly interesting in this field of lab grown diamonds is that the source of carbon that starts the growing process off can be chosen by the individual purchasing the diamond. The technology exists to extract the carbon from things with a meaning for the purchaser such as the hair of two people to be married, flowers, ashes of a loved one who has passed, wine corks, fur from a beloved pet, wedding invitations, photos, wood etc. This carbon is then used in the growing process to create a one of a kind diamond grown atom by atom from your life, your love, your memories.
As we move into the future at a rapid rate we need to continue to look at the way we do things, no longer accepting that the old way was the best. As technology advances so too does our understanding of the world, the choices we make and what is available to us. Maybe it is time to consider laboratory grown diamonds with meaning, instead of mined diamonds of unknown origin.
Written by Sarah Ellis (Heart In Diamond Australia)