Updated: Jan 30, 2021
You may have seen the hashtag "Natural Diamonds" popping up on social media and wondered what all the fuss is about! Sure, you know it has to do with natural diamonds verse lab grown stones or synthetic stones, but still you may have wondered if there is in fact, a real difference between the two, and if so.... what is that difference?
Before I begin, I want to state from the outset that I have no formal gemology qualification. I am in no way pretending to be an expert in the field of diamonds, or any other gem. What I do know is what I love, what appeals to my heart, and what establishes an emotional connection with me. Years and years spent viewing and photographing diamonds have provided me with an invaluable education from the School of Life. But no, I am not a formally qualified expert in this area, and I want to call that out right at the get go.
When I began TheDiamondsGirl, in those early, heady days, there was no buzz about lab grown "diamonds". They existed, but for industrial usage only. As technology improved, so too did the manufacturing process, Sure there was cubic zircona's, but those were called Cubics (CZ's) and not called diamonds! Today, with the advances in technology, man is able to create in laboratories synthetic diamonds that exactly replicate the DNA of a natural diamond. For many, it’s an affordable way to purchase diamonds. Or to be able to purchase a larger stone than you would be able to do if it was a natural diamond. So that sounds great - what could possibly be the problem with that, right? There are no problems... but I do have very clear (personal) reasons for why I am not a fan of lab grown diamonds.
Romance: I believe you can’t beat the romance of knowing you are wearing something created by nature. And because diamonds are usually gifted with meaning, or bought for oneself with pride, the romantic and emotional component is so important to me, and nothing a lab creates can ever evoke the same feeling. The very first diamond that I received that was over a carat was a beautiful heart shape diamond. Sadly I lost it at a jewelry show a few years back, and the loss of something so beautiful and so romantic haunted me for years. Finally last year, 2020, I asked my husband to buy me a new one for birthday, which he did, from Vivid Diamonds. I truly believe I would never have been as heartbroken over the loss if I didn't know that I had lost something rare and special. No two diamonds are the same. I couldn't replace the lost diamond. But the new one has put a huge smile on my face - I am delighted to once again have a natural diamond around my neck!
Real: We've all read debates on whether lab grown diamonds are real or not. Here’s my two cents worth. A fake Rolex is still a watch. A fake Hermès is still a handbag. So yes it’s real... and very few may be able to distinguish between the fake and the genuine thing, but I would know. And I’m all for keeping it really real! I clearly remember the pride I felt when I bought myself my first pair of diamond studs. They were 0.30 carats each. I've since upgraded to larger stones twice, but I've always kept the previous pair, having reset the diamonds into a necklace, and into side stones on my ring. Would I have bothered to reset the stones if they were not "real"....unlikely!
Resources: much has been written about lab diamonds being environmentally friendly. If this is your reason for selecting a lab grown stone, then I recommend you research this very carefully. According to the Natural Diamonds Council, third-party research by S&P Global company TruCost reveals that natural diamonds produce 3X fewer carbon emissions per carat than lab-grown diamonds. The carbon emissions to recover a 1 carat natural diamond is equal only to the carbon emissions required to produce 3 iPhones. Leading diamond producers recycle on average 83% of the water used in diamond recovery. Conversely, manufacturing lab-grown diamonds requires an immense amount of energy to replicate a billion-year-old natural process in just a few weeks, as well as significant water consumption to cool the reactors.
Furthermore, the diamond industry is committed to conducting itself in a transparent manner, recognizing the roles and responsibilities they have towards creating ethical and sustainable mining practices. De Beers has always been at the forefront of the industry, and as a South African, I am personally invested in the good - or bad - that communities experience as a result of mining. Katie Ferguson, Senior Vice President, Sustainable Impact, De Beers Group, describes the De Beers philosophy: "Billions of years old and symbols of our strongest emotions, diamonds are extraordinary treasures of nature. At De Beers we are committed to Building Forever, ensuring that every diamond we discover leaves a lasting positive impact on people and the planet. We focus on four areas: leading ethical practices across the industry by increasing transparency as well as social and environmental standards; protecting the natural world through ground-breaking biodiversity and climate change programs; partnering with communities to support them to thrive through livelihood, education and wellbeing programs; and accelerating equal opportunities within business, design and STEM. Every diamond is precious, but for me their value comes in the livelihoods they support, the wildlife they protect and the opportunities they present." The De Beers Building Forever strategy has committed to achieving a number of goals by 2030, read all about it here.
Resale: Have you ever tried selling a fake Gucci bag? Yep! Not many people are lining up to buy it! The same applies to synthetic diamonds. It will never be an investment that appreciates, in fact, quite the opposite. I buy my jewelry with forever in mind. While I love resetting stones, I have never sold any of my own stones. That's because every stone I own has a special meaning to me, based on the occasion, and the reason it was bought. But I would be lying if I didn't add that I love knowing they do have an inherent value, and if I ever need to fall back on them, I can. Stephanie Gottlieb of Stephanie Gottlieb Jewelry says it perfectly "We have had a few requests for synthetics, but once we explain to our clients why we don’t work with them, they see the value in natural diamonds, and why synthetics are not a good investment. There is no comparison between a miracle of nature that takes billions of years to create versus a piece of technology that takes a matter of weeks. I would imagine that as production increases and supply floods the market, prices will decrease, so a synthetic will be worth less and less as the years go on. Natural diamond supply is finite and the value is in their scarcity."
Let me end by saying it is not for me, nor anyone else, to judge others. If lab grown diamonds speak to you, then by all means, go ahead and purchase one and wear it with pride. I am simply not a fan, and that's my prerogative, same as its your prerogative to wear what you please!