The creation and marketing of lab-grown Diamonds have evolved to become a multibillion-dollar industry, and this number is only on the rise.
In all but one sense of the word, natural and lab-grown Diamonds are the same. However, they differ in both their origins and how they are created – and this is what drastically affects their value.
Here, we’re delving into the depths of the debate between natural and lab-grown Diamonds, and exploring the real truth behind these man-made sparklers.
SO, WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
When it comes to the difference between natural and lab-grown Diamonds, it may seem like an obvious question – but there are more differences between the two than simply the environment in which they are formed.
We're not going to stand up and declare that lab-grown Diamonds aren’t Diamonds – because gemologically and chemically speaking, they are. Both are created from pure carbon, and their internal characteristics are the same (including their overall quality and durability). However, despite sharing the same properties and structure, a lab-grown Diamond will physically display its structure in a different way. This is how grading labs are able to tell the two apart, as these differences are invisible to the naked eye.
READ MORE ABOUT HOW NATURAL DIAMONDS ARE GRADED
WHY ARE LAB-GROWN DIAMONDS SO DIFFERENT IN PRICE?
When you consider all the similarities between natural and lab-grown Diamonds, it begs the question of why a lab-grown Diamond is so much cheaper.
Realistically, the answer lies in its environment. Natural Diamonds form over billions of years – not to mention the time and cost it takes to acquire them – whereas one laboratory can create a lab-grown Diamond in a matter of weeks. Plus, once the initial investment has been made into a Diamond lab and its equipment, it can produce an endless supply of Diamonds if needed, unlike a natural Diamond mine which will need more land to explore after it’s been exhausted.
READ MORE ABOUT HOW NATURAL DIAMONDS ARE PRICED
In terms of cost, timescales and workforce, it’s true that Diamond mining is nowhere near as efficient as lab-grown Diamond production. Granted, this makes lab-grown Diamonds much more affordable, but this doesn’t mean they are without their own financial or environmental implications.
THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF LAB-GROWN DIAMONDS
It may seem hard to believe in comparison with natural Diamond mining, but lab-grown Diamonds are not created in the most sustainable way.
In order to create authentic-looking Diamonds with the same chemical structure, laboratories work to artificially mimic the environment in which natural Diamonds form. Most (if not all) lab-grown Diamonds undergo a HPHT – high pressure, high temperature – process to emulate the way a natural Diamond forms in the earth. Before it evolves into a fully-fledged Diamond, it is placed into a chamber and pelted with high levels of carbon gas.
Most Diamond labs require at least 250 kilowatt hours (kWh) to produce a Diamond. Compare this with the 242kWh of energy the average UK household uses per month, and you have yourself an unfair conception that lab-grown Diamonds are ‘eco-friendly’.
This is not to say that natural Diamond mining is more sustainable. However, we must reiterate that mining practices are becoming more environmentally friendly in recent years, particularly in Canada where Diamonds are mined from the ice just below the Arctic Circle (see image above). This allows for the land to be returned to its original condition, therefore reducing the environmental impact on a monumental scale. Plus, many mining companies are prioritising ways to offset their carbon emissions to work towards maintaining sustainable work practices.
READ MORE ABOUT GEMPORIA’S SUSTAINABILITY EFFORTS
In short, both Diamond production methods have their downfalls, and it is unreasonable to market lab-grown Diamonds as more sustainable simply due to the lack of visual impact on the environment.
THE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF LAB-GROWN DIAMONDS
It's true that they are cheaper for consumers, but lab-grown Diamonds have a detrimental effect on both the value of the Diamond industry and the economies of countries where natural Diamonds are sourced.
Diamonds are acquired from all over the world from nations big and small, and some countries are dependent on Diamond mining to keep its economy balanced. To use Africa as an example, countries such as South Africa, Botswana and the Democratic Republic of the Congo all contribute to the world’s Diamond market. Botswana accounts for around 21% of the global supply, and its economy is almost entirely Diamond dependent; for many civilians living in Botswana, their livelihoods rely on the mining industry as their primary source of income.
Currently, the vast majority (around 80%) of the profits from Diamond mining stays in Botswana. This has allowed the country to secure its economic future, and shape it from being one of the poorest countries in Africa. This income also supports Botswana’s people through the likes of sufficient healthcare and free education, not to mention the career options within the mining industry and support for those living in communities affected by it.
So, where do lab-grown Diamonds come in?
We’ve reiterated that Botswana’s economic stability is dependent on the natural Diamond industry. So, when lab-grown Diamonds begin to muscle their way into the natural Diamond market, they feed into Botswana’s income.
As well as this, the dramatic rise in lab-grown Diamonds can encourage the exploitation of natural Diamonds, and could lead to many large Diamond corporations to stop adhering to ethical mining practices such as the Kimberley Process (a commitment to remove conflict Diamonds from the global market).
So, on paper, lab-grown Diamonds are seen to be efficient, cost-effective and an accessible way to own a real Diamond. However, the environmental and economic repercussions of maintaining the industry are immense.
WILL A LAB-GROWN DIAMOND HOLD ITS VALUE?
We've briefly talked about the reasons why lab-grown Diamonds are more affordable than natural Diamonds, but regardless of which Diamond you choose to buy, it’s important to know how much your purchase will be worth over time.
The reality is that the price of lab-grown Diamonds is dramatically falling, and historically this is likely to continue. Plus, based on existing trends and the way the lab-grown Diamond industry is currently moving, prices will fall as supplies rise.
Of course, this fact may only be of importance to you if you plan on selling your lab-grown Diamonds in the future. Because if so, it is highly unlikely that you will get close to what you originally paid for it. The value may drop significantly in just a few years, which drastically lessens the appeal of them to some collectors.
According to the findings of Diamond analyst Paul Zimnisky, the price of a one-carat lab-grown Diamond dropped by 70% over a five-year period, and only continues to fall. However, the value of a one-carat natural Diamond, despite a few spikes and dips, has maintained a steady price over the same amount of time – and this is why we make the daily decision to never source or sell lab-grown Diamonds.
WHY GEMPORIA DOES NOT OFFER LAB-GROWN DIAMONDS
At Gemporia, one of our core values has always been to make genuine gemstone jewellery affordable and accessible for all. We are keen to prioritise people over profit, and are very proud of our pledge to support mining communities in a world where huge margins are being made from lab-grown Diamond production.
We understand the reasons for the lab-grown Diamond industry, and are aware of the positive aspects that come with offering them to customers. They are much cheaper to create, cheaper to buy and the supply is limitless and reliable. However, when looking at the time and effort that goes into the exploration and sourcing of natural Diamonds, and considering the rare, natural marvel that Mother Nature has gifted to us, we believe the cost is worth it.
Alongside our Gemporia website, we are the only TV channel in the world to only sell genuine, natural Diamonds. All of our gemstones are completely authentic, and your purchases come with an authenticity card to prove it.
It is easy to side with companies that exclusively sell either lab-grown or natural Diamonds, as they are likely to have one-sided views that influence their audience. However, we always strive to be authentic in both products and practice, and we do this by using our expert knowledge to educate audiences on all topics regarding gemstones and jewellery, regardless of which side of the fence we choose to sit on.
Ultimately, the decision of whether to buy a natural or a lab-grown Diamond is yours – and we hope we have provided you with the clarity you need to make it.
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