Remix caught up with Sera Lynne from The Diamond Shop to discover more about the ethical and sustainable practice of lab-grown diamonds offered at the Auckland jewellery boutique. Read on to debunk the common myths and misconceptions...
Can you tell us about how The Diamond Shop (TDS) is working towards a more ethical approach to diamonds by providing lab-grown diamonds to clients?
The introduction of lab-grown diamonds and the evolving industry means that we are able to provide our customers with reassurance, traceability and data on how the diamond they're purchasing has been sourced. The research, data and evolving technology in the lab-grown diamond world will only continue to improve this pathway to a much more ethical approach - backed by facts and research. Our lab-grown diamonds always stand out from the rest because the vast majority of what we sell are D-F colour and VS+ clarity. The process in which I go through to source the finest graded diamonds has taken us some time to develop and we will not sell a diamond that we have not thoroughly inspected and would be delighted to purchase ourselves.
What are the myths about lab-grown diamonds that need to be debunked?
The biggest myth is that they are fake/synthetic diamonds - this is absolutely false. Lab-grown diamonds are physically, chemically and optically the same. There is nothing synthetic about them. In fact, even gemologists can’t discern between a mined diamond, and a lab-grown diamond. Bright, light and clear, the only differences are where they are sourced, and their price.
Why are they better for the environment/planet?
There are still many debates about the comparison to mining diamonds and growing them in a lab when it comes to environmental factors, however, what we do know is that mining diamonds means we have to damage the earth immensely, we have fossil fuels, carbon emissions, human lives and the inability to prove the source of mined diamonds. Therefore, if the lab-grown diamonds are coming from 100% recycled/renewable energy we can continue to move forward to ensure that the industry continues to implement processes that ensure a much smaller footprint as well as provide proof of the source. This is something that is ongoing in the lab-grown world as we speak and it will continue to develop as we can get our hands on more research and data.
If two rings were placed right next to each other, could the average person tell the difference between a traditionally mined diamond from lab-grown?
No, absolutely not. No one could with their naked eyes - special machinery is required to test the diamonds and determine which one is mined and which one is grown in a lab. The world's best gemologist cannot tell you with their naked eyes. The only difference is the matter in which they are formed and some minute chemical differences which is what allows gemologists to use the special machinery to tell the two apart.
Is there a price difference? if so, why?
Yes, lab-grown diamonds are up to 60% cheaper than mined diamonds. This is mostly because they're cheaper to make and the mining industry has such large overheads that these are passed through to the customers. It takes up to 12 weeks to make a lab-grown diamond, whereas it takes billions of years and a lot of manpower/machinery to mine diamonds.
Lab-grown diamonds don't mean the quality/value changes though, right?
No, they are graded by the 4C's just as a mined diamond is. The only difference is that the certificate will state "laboratory grown diamond".
Does lab-grown mean clients also have more options to choose from re: size, clarity, design across their budget?
Yes, absolutely! This is what we see every day, customers with a specific budget in mind and a dream ring that may not have been possible if they were purchasing a mined diamond. The difference in price means that most customers can purchase a diamond that is significantly larger and with much better 4C's than an earth mined option.