Let’s talk lab-grown, man-made, synthetic diamonds. This market has been growing so rapidly over the past few years that we’re about to witness a big shift in the diamond industry. But what is the attraction? Is it the price point? The high tech innovation? The idea that it’s eco-friendly? To set the record straight, I asked 20 influential lifestyle bloggers, with an outreach of 6 million followers, for their opinions about synthetics. Thumbs up, or thumbs down?
We have this notion that synthetics have become a real threat to the natural diamond, but how can you truly compete with something that is nothing less than a natural miracle? For us lovers of all things sparkly, it’s really important to reflect on the emotional value of our jewelry purchases, and this is one issue that gets people talking. So let’s look at both sides of the picture.
6 FACTS ON MAN-MADE DIAMONDS VERSUS NATURAL DIAMONDS:
- By mimicking the natural conditions necessary for carbon to grow into a diamond, sophisticated machines are now able to produce synthetic diamonds identical to natural ones. It is not easy to tell the difference with the human eye, or even with traditional methods like loupes and microscopes. Lab-grown diamonds have essentially the same physical, chemical and optical characteristics as their natural counterparts.
- Natural diamonds were created billions of years ago, deep inside the core of Mother Earth and hold significant value. Man-made diamonds are created in a radically different way. They are grown from seeds in state-of-the-art laboratories in a matter of weeks.
- What I find really frustrating about this is that man-made diamonds are not necessarily cheaper than the real thing. Scientific progress has contributed to this shift in the market, as they are producing brilliant and realistic alternatives to natural diamonds. But I think that will change. Over time, I believe real diamonds will go up in value, with emerging economies and rising standards of living will continue to feed the demand and open up new markets, particularly in Africa.
- Another surprising factor of lab-grown diamonds is that they’re not as friendly to the environment as you might first think. Unless the lab is using renewable sources of energy, to produce these crystals requires a huge amount of electricity. On the flip side, they do have shorter supply chains. A better idea for environmentally conscious is to invest in secondhand diamond jewelry and recycled gold.
- Of course, you can’t overlook the environmental impact of diamond mining, and its history of unethical mining practices. Natural diamonds are extracted from millions of tonnes of rock dug out of large open pits mostly in Botswana, Canada, and Russia. Known as rough diamonds, these gems go on to be polished and cut in Antwerp or India, before they end up at jewelry houses, workshops, and retailers.
- Unlike the Blood Diamonds of the African Civil Wars, synthetics are conflict-free. This is an important difference and something today’s jewelry lover needs to be aware of when making a purchase.
The official definition of a diamond has changed. I am all for man-made diamonds as long as the consumer understands the difference. Personally, having seen some of the most spectacular natural diamonds in the world, like the heart-shaped 92-carat diamond, the blue Oppenheimer diamond, and a 163-carat De Grisogono flawless diamond, I can honestly say they took my breath away and touched me on an emotional level. Natural diamonds are just such unique, rare miracles of nature.
So what did 20 Instagram influencers think of synthetic diamonds? Many gave them a thumbs up based on everyday, wearable jewelry, but a thumbs down for momentous jewelry like an engagement ring. Only the real deal will do because a true diamond holds its value. There is a place for synthetics, perhaps as a fashion item, but there is nothing rare about them.
What’s your opinion? Thumbs up or thumbs down for lab-grown diamonds? Share with me in the comments!
I am extremely happy to announce that my new jewelry book – GEMOLOGUE: Street Jewellery Styles & Styling Tips – is now on Amazon. I’m so excited. It’s the first book of its kind solely dedicated to jewelry.
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GEMOLOGUE jewelry blog by Liza Urla is a celebration of fine, fashion and vintage jewelry featuring talented jewelry designers, trendy urban street style, exclusive interviews, and rare jewelry reviews. This jewelry blog’s goal is to encourage and educate about jewelry online in a fresh and original fashion to inspire women and men across the globe in a fashion and traveling context.
Jewelry blogger, writer Liza Urla, the founder of GEMOLOGUE, is a London-based and NYC-educated gemologist, who has traveled to and lived in many countries. She is now one of the most influential digital jewelry tastemakers. Her jewelry influence has been acknowledged by Financial Times, The New York Times, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.
*Styling and Art Direction by Liza Urla. All photos belong to GEM Kreatives for GEMOLOGUE.
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