Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, and that’s been the mantra for years, but what’s drawing the attention of the world today, especially millennials and generation-Z, are the new-age lab-grown diamonds. These rocks, that have as brilliantly been rocking the world of diamonds as the gem itself, are grown in a plasma reactor (laboratory) by a process that exactly replicates the natural process of diamond formation that happened billion years ago deep within the Earth’s crust.
By Prasad Kapre, CEO & Director, Style Quotient Jewellery Private Limited (SQJPL)
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and other leading diamond certifying agencies of the world have clearly defined lab-grown diamonds as physically, chemically and optically identical to the natural diamonds mined from the earth. Lab-grown diamonds are grown in a plasma reactor by two different processes: Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD) and High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT). With these two processes, the end result is the creation of a diamond that is identical in every respect to a mined diamond.
A human eye cannot detect the difference; only a diamond certifying laboratory, well-equipped with the latest machines, can actually identify lab-grown and mined diamonds.
Need for Lab-grown Diamonds
It is said that mined diamonds, being a natural resource, are fast depleting and the mines carrying these diamonds are getting exhausted. In the coming years, these mines will not be in a position to supply enough gems to meet the growing demand for diamonds in the world. In just eight more years, i.e. by year 2030, there will be a huge gap of 159 million carats of rough diamonds as against the total demand for 221 million carats. So, lab-grown diamonds are likely to fill this gap to some extent.
Where in the World are these Diamonds Grown?
As per the Global Diamond Report 20-21 published by Bain & Company, the total production of lab-grown diamonds in the world is in the range of 6 to 7 million carats. Out of the total production of about 7 million carats of rough diamonds, India is the world’s largest producer of the CVD diamonds and is also growing at a very fast pace.
Grading of Grown Diamonds
Being identical to mined diamonds in every respect, lab-grown diamonds are also graded by all the diamond certifying laboratories in the world in exactly the same way of measuring, grading and certifying, and under the same parameters like the ones being used for mined diamonds.
The Early Adopters
Leading companies and brands of the world have already adopted these diamonds and have introduced their own brands or generic lab-grown diamond jewellery. The world leader – DeBeers – introduced its own brand of lab-grown diamond jewellery under the brand name of ‘Lightbox’ in 2018. Pandora, Damas, Hoover & Strong, Macy’s Zales, Walmart, etc., have been very active and have introduced their own collections/brands using lab-grown diamonds.
In India, too, there are new brands that have emerged – Limelight being the market leader, and other brands like NIti, Vandals, One Glass Shoe, Fiona, Wonder and many more.
By year 2030, there will be a huge gap of 159 million carats of rough diamonds as against the total demand for 221 million carats. Lab- grown diamonds are likely to fill this gap to some extent.
Top 10 Reasons to Buy Diamond Jewellery
- Measuring self-worth by the size of a diamond
- A celebration
- Recognition of one’s own or a dear one’s accomplishment
- The urge to buy something truly special and rare
- An expression of human qualities that resonate those of a diamond – Reliability, inner strength, fire and sparkle
- To make the right impression on another
- An investment in happiness
- Simply a gift
- The ultimate symbol of love
Setting a Price
Since lab-grown diamonds are grown and processed above the earth, there is no mining involved and so, they are eco-friendly. Besides this, the lack of mining is the biggest strength of these diamonds as all the mining cost that is saved by growing these diamonds above the earth is passed on to the end consumers. So, lab-grown diamonds, on an average, are about one-third the cost of mined diamonds. That means for the consumer, it’s like getting a 65 per cent discount. Now isn’t that something every consumer looks forward to?
Benefit to Consumers
There are number of benefits for consumers, some of which have been explained herein:
- HIGH ON RADIANCE, BRILLIANCE, SPARKLE & FIRE: Lab-grown diamonds produced with CVD technology are the purest form of carbon. This means there are no impurities trapped inside the rough diamonds during its formation in a plasma reactor. Since its 100% pure carbon, the brilliance, sparkle and the fire of a lab-grown diamond is much higher. Technically, these diamonds get classified as Type IIA, which is the purest form of carbon. In the natural world, less than 2% of the natural/mined diamonds are classified as Type IIA. One such example of a mined diamond, which is classified as Type IIA, is the Kohinoor.
- ECO-FRIENDLY: Since there is no mining involved in the growing process, it is considered to be an environmentally friendly product. However, it is yet to be concretely proved to be totally environmentally friendly. There is a raging debate on this issue and sooner or later the industry needs to get an answer to this.
- AFFORDABLE: Since there is no mining involved, the savings are passed on to the end consumer and so these diamonds are affordable and pocket-friendly.
- VALUE FOR MONEY: Since these are affordable, they give better value for money. It also means it can be a very good product to gift to near and dear ones.
- TRENDY: Being new-age diamonds, the Western world has quickly adapted to these diamonds. So, in the gems & jewellery world, they are the fastest growing category and soon, even in India, will grow in demand.
- ETHICAL: The mined diamond industry came under scrutiny with unethical production practices that were exposed. As against this, lab-grown diamonds do not have any such unethical issues and are considered to be totally ethically produced and processed.
Are Indian Consumers Willing to Accept them?
Consumers worldwide are becoming more and more socially responsible and are willing to buy ethically responsible and sustainable brands. Since lab-grown diamonds are perceived to meet this requirement of new-age consumers, they are being received well by them, and India rates high on this social responsibility norm.
Social Responsibility is Becoming a Defining Factor in Luxury
Lab grown diamonds meet every requirement and every occasion that a consumer needs the diamond for. The most significant consequence of lab-grown diamonds is that they give consumers the power to select.
The democratization of luxury is something that any company can commit to. This implies it’s time to stop debating the worth of lab-grown diamonds against those mined from the ground, because the truth is that diamonds are worth the emotions they convey. Consumers pay a transactional price at the counter, but diamonds were never intended to be a financial investment. They are emotional investments in the sense that they capture moments and sentiments.