One of the biggest talking points in the jewellery industry right now is lab-grown diamonds. Will they take off? Where will they sit in the market? What impact will they have on the diamond industry? There are lots of questions flying around, and for many in the industry the question is not if but when.
Earrings set with lab-grown diamonds by The Promise of Created Excellence
Gold bangles set with lab-grown diamonds by The Promise of Created Excellence
A major concern for many in the industry is transparency and whether these lab-grown diamonds will be passed off for mined diamonds. This is a valid worry, but here let’s focus not on the ethics of lab-grown diamonds but the potential for these stones to become a jewellery trend.
Primrose ring set with lab-grown diamonds from Nurture by Reena
There is a general admission within the diamond industry that it has failed to engage with Millennials, and many companies are now reassessing strategies with a view to appeal to the younger generations. Yet many of the concerns that Millennials have about mined diamonds could be answered by lab-grown diamonds. As they are made in a lab, they are fully transparent and so there are no environmental or social ethical concerns. They are less expensive, and so appealing to a consumer group that wants to spend its stretched budget on lots of other things – travel, tech, high fashion, property, experiences.
Then there is the star power. Leonardo DiCaprio has publicly endorsed and invested in Diamond Foundry, a Silicon Valley lab-grown diamond producer. DiCaprio, who has more than 16 million Twitter followers, took to the social media platform to describe Diamond Foundry as a company that is “reducing human and environmental toll by sustainably culturing diamonds.”
Leonardo DiCaprio has invested in lab-grown diamond company Diamond Foundry
Internet sensation Murad Osmann – a photographer whose now iconic #followmeto photographs of his hand holding that of his wife’s as they travel round the world won him 4.4 million followers on Instagram – has also invested in lab-grown diamonds. Osmann proposed to his wife with a lab-grown diamond engagement ring, and to capitalise on their following, they have set up a lab-grown diamond bridal jewellery company called Follow Your Love.
Murad Osmann and his wife Natalia Zakharova on their wedding day - Image by Murad Osmann
Murad Osmann has commercialised his huge online following by launching lab-grown diamond bridal company Follow Your Love - Image by Murad Osmann
Lab-grown diamond Lotus ring by Follow Your Love
Lab-grown diamond engagement ring by Follow Your Love
When it comes to actual sales, there are reports from producers of lab-grown diamonds that the market is already taking off in the US. Thierry Silber, chief executive of Madestones, which claims to be the largest producer of lab-grown diamonds, describes that market as “growing amazingly fast,” while Europe and the UK are warming up.
What is lost, for many, with lab-grown diamonds is the romance. Instead of gemstones that have been forged by nature under the ground over millions of years, you get diamonds that are created by men in lab coats over a matter of months. Because of this, experts like Silber believe that the very top end of the luxury jewellery market will never engage with lab-grown diamonds. But a tech-appreciative, price-sensitive, ethically minded Millennial consumer? That’s a different matter altogether.