The rise of lab-grown diamonds
Lab-grown diamonds are on the rise; even diamond giant De Beers is now selling them. Here is a look at the upsurge in interest and what the future holds for these coveted gems.
All that glitters is not gold
The Diamond District of New York is a sight for sore eyes, with row upon row of shops selling diamonds of every shape and size from baguette, oval, princess to crystal and emerald cuts. A haven for diamond engagement rings, this New York district is the gateway to America’s phenomenal $47 billion diamond industry. Times are changing, however. Historically, these retailers were age-old, traditional family-run firms. Today, there are many recent players now joining the scene, selling diamonds that haven’t come from the ground.
Lab-grown diamonds have been around since the 1950s. It is only during the last 10 years that the ability to create quality diamonds has been explored. Grown in high-pressure, high-temperature chambers heated with plasma, a hydrocarbon gas mixture is broken down to create the diamond. They take just weeks to grow in an environment that mimics that of real diamond growth areas. Interestingly, they look the same as real diamonds and are chemically and physically alike.
Lab-grown diamonds are cheaper than mined ones, typically selling for around 30 per cent less. Those on the hunt for the perfect ring tend to research costs by visiting websites such as
https://www.comparethediamond.com to ensure value for money.
With more millennials buying diamonds than ever before, environmental considerations are becoming increasingly important. In fact, reports have shown that a staggering 250 tonnes of earth have to be moved for every single diamond carat. Some mines have grown so vast – such as the Kimberley diamond mine in Australia, one of the world’s largest suppliers of mined diamonds – that they can be viewed from space. Compare this to lab-grown diamond enterprises, who can justifiably say they are 100 per cent carbon neutral.
There are also human rights issues to consider. For example, in Surat, an Indian city where 90 per cent of the world’s diamonds are cut and polished, teenagers work 14-hour shifts shining diamonds, developing what is locally known as “diamond lung” as they inhale the tiny diamond grains, which cause a host of respiratory problems.