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Lab-grown diamonds and millennials

18 december 2017

The sensibilities of the millennials have undergone a drastic transformation in recent times across countries. For them, the wedding is for one day, but they have a whole life to take care of it financially. So, it really does not matter to them whether the ring has an expensive mined diamond or some other stone. To be exact, some of them don't even see a need for a ring. The price is what matters most and has to be reasonable for millennials. Besides, it’s not about investment anymore, but the design and the eventual look of the ring.

While many jewellers across continents are convinced that lab-grown diamonds are the future, debates rage among many others who persist that mined diamonds (or the real diamonds) will survive the onslaught of artificial diamonds, as they have the many years of love and admiration for the gem to fall back on.

Of late, millennials have been the focus and their opinion has been of great importance as they are the jewellery buyers of today and the near future. In the natural versus lab-grown diamonds debate, one may come across arguments that synthetic pieces are more sustainable than mined counterparts given the many plus points of lab-grown diamonds that go with the sensibilities of youngsters when it comes to choosing mined diamonds vs lab-grown diamonds.

The following is garnered from social media/internet blogs showing reactions of millennials when asked if they would propose with an artificial diamond ring.

Takae

I think most wouldn't give a fig. They're likely care more about the fact they're asked to enter a lifetime commitment with the one they're in relationship with.

St Dabeoc

Surely, it's an opportunity to spend the same money, and get a really big one? and if your beloved sends it off for laboratory analysis, well there's some food for thought also :)

Moleskin

There's also the argument that they're more ethical, no blood diamonds and the like.

Seaside lady

Speaking from a female point of view - I don't know how they compare in cost to real mined diamonds, but I would rather my ring be made of real stones. I would gladly go for a beautiful second-hand ring with decent sized and valuable stones than a new fake one.

Netcurtains

I'm happy with pretend diamonds. I'm not an expensive type of woman.

Shrike

They are real diamonds, just that no-one has had to risk their life for them! Sadly its not posible to grow them very big yet, so for that sparkler as big as a hens egg, you'll still need to find a wild one.

luckylila

If the ring is what matters when you are deciding whether to spend the rest of your lives together, then there's something seriously wrong. My hubby proposed with no ring. We went and bought one together the next weekend and it cost less than £100. The ring doesn't matter - the commitment does.

Grumpyscot

Agrees with luckylila & adds: Totally agree. But some people are just pure materialistic, and believe that things like real stones, latest Apple gadgets, having 2 Mercs in the driveway of their half a million semi (with swimming pool) is all that matters. True love means still being in love when you haven't a penny between you.

Plucky-Optipus

I don't think the mined or lab aspect of the diamond matters in the slightest. I personally hate diamonds and as such. I have a sapphire, which is my favourite stone. I also have tiny fingers so anything too big would look silly. Would I care if the ring I have is mined or lab, not in the slightest. It's the perfect setting with the perfect stone. Only gripe is it's in a high setting which makes glove wearing hard, but that's the only problem with mine.

It is even said that millennials are surely looking at lab-grown diamonds as a better choice than mined stones. This is supported by the fact that many jewellery brands of good standing have of late introduced lab-grown diamonds into their jewellery range due to the added sustainability they offer.

In recent times, many jewellers claim that the response has been very strong from especially millennials as synthetic diamonds are environmentally-friendly, socially responsible and better value for money. The jewellers' contention is that when it came to quality, artificial diamonds are atomically exactly the same as type IIa diamonds, sparkle exactly like real diamonds and cost less as well.

According to sources, many jewellers in Canada are reportedly doing good business with their artificial diamond collections as the jewellery come laser-marked with a lab-grown certificate. Jewellers who offer their customers a choice between artificial and natural diamonds are being ethical by selling both real as well as lab-grown diamonds, by offering certificates for both, where the customers are convinced and not feel cheated.

A few years ago, in a study done in US, 55% of people, who were asked 'Would you buy a lab-grown diamond?', said 'Yes'; 19% said 'No, only natural diamonds for me'; 23% said, 'Depends on the cost of the jewellery piece’; and 3% gave 'other' info.

Therefore, driven by social responsibilities, it was important for the brands to garner support from customers for the synthetic range. Observers in the USA are reportedly claiming that 50% of inventories in the multiple jewellery outlets will be lab-grown by 2020. Lab-grown diamonds are understandably posing a threat to big miners, who are unnerved having to compete with cheaper, cleaner lab-grown diamonds.

In India, the present/third generation youngsters belonging to traditional real diamond companies, have entered the synthetic diamond business. This trend threatens to shake up the $80 bn natural diamond jewellery market, built over the years on notions of love, marriage, and eternity.

Pro-synthetic-diamond jewellers insist that better quality, less cost and smaller carbon footprint of artificial diamonds are more attractive to millennials than mined stones. Lab-grown diamonds, which are currently only about 2 percent of supply, are expected to reach 10 percent by 2030 worldwide. Some analysts feel the growth is bound to be faster and become a real threat to the natural diamond producers. With artificial diamonds increasingly being considered pure, more affordable substitute, the real diamond industry may be hit hard in the coming years.

If lab-grown diamonds will be available in plenty and demand for them will increase, mining companies may defer exploration and mining, as spending huge amounts for a product that might not uphold prices in the long run is risky. However, the success of synthetic diamonds depends especially on the millennial generation, as well as on how the natural diamond industry responds to the threat. To begin with, winning the marketing war - especially among millennials - is of utmost importance. DPA's “Real is Rare” has to do miracles in the next few years to survive the rather disturbing times that's coming our way.

As early as 2010, when millennials were contacted to get their opinions on lab-grown diamonds, the Internet threw up this:

lily25

I'd accept a tin ring from a coca cola can from my darling husband. Diamonds are just pieces of charcoal compared to true love!

Cates

Agrees with lily25 & adds No diamond compares to finding the true love of your life.

Hellokatiegirl

Agrees with lily25 and adds 'I would not have cared if my husband could not have afforded a real diamond for my engagement ring. In my opinion, people get too concerned with the ring and the wedding day and sometimes do not focus on the marriage or the person they are marrying. Now, if someone tried to pass off a fake ring as real, that would bother me because of the lying aspect. My personal opinion is that I would want a colored gemstone ring or perhaps no ring at all if we couldn't afford a real diamond. I just don't like things that are fake.

Shofle

It would depend upon his intentions behind it. Is he poor and can't afford a real diamond? Then of course I would. If he's just cheaping out though or not putting any effort into it then the ring is meaningless and no, I wouldn't want it. Whatever ring I would get should be chosen with love and given in the same manner.

Blyen

Are you talking about a simulant or a real lab created diamond? cause that's a REAL diamond, just grown in the lab instead that in nature. And they are not exactly cheap either. I would accept it without any doubts, it's a diamond!

Swhite9290

I wouldn't have a problem with it, as long as it wasn't trying to be passed off as "real". I'd like to know that it was lab created but it wouldn't make a difference as far as if I accepted it or not. To me, the meaning behind it is what counts. I'd take a Ring Pop if it was heartfelt!

MissD

A lab grown diamond is still very expensive. However, the grown ones are often made into fancy colored diamonds so that's the allure there? It's a diamond nonetheless but had help from man to grow. Nothing fake about the result, other than the process I guess!

Bagsnob

Lab diamonds are real diamonds. I would accept one without a doubt but they are not cheap.

Hekate

Lab diamonds have all the benefits of mined stones, with the additional cachet of being completely ethical and environmentally friendly. Aside from the fact that they've yet to figure out how to grow them cleanly past a carat, what's not to like?

nvie

Lab diamonds or mined diamonds......they are all carbons. I don't mind either one. The marriage with a diamond ring has been hyped up by the big jewellers like Tiffany, De Beers, etc. A lasting and happy marriage is priceless, anything else, it comes with a tag!

Candice0985

Agrees with nvie...feels ditto

smalls

I would also opt for a colored gemstone over a lab created diamond if I could not afford a natural diamond.

Elizat

I would not mind at all if I was going the diamond route (I think I'd prefer a colored stone). I think I'd like moissanite instead of a diamond anyway, unless a fantastic antique diamond crossed my path for an engagement ring.

The concern for environment voiced from time to time by prospect diamond buyers is a sign of the times, which is good and welcome. But it would be appropriate to say that any goods and services we buy – be they drinking water, food, shoes, clothing or whatever else - use energy to be produced and the source of that energy is mostly fossil fuels (like coal, petroleum, and natural gas), which are the major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions polluting the atmosphere. Energy production of all types accounts for more than two thirds of all harmful emissions. If your annual consumption of electricity is 3500 kWh (the world’s average), it means that your part in emitting carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere is equal to 2.0 metric tons. Transportation generates 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Driving a typical passenger car means polluting the atmosphere with 4.7 metric tons of carbon dioxide every year. Electricity and transportation are the greatest ecological danger of all, but we will stop using them burning fossil fuels only when a powerful and lasting source of clean energy will be discovered.

On this energy background, any goods or services we purchase mean polluting the atmosphere and the ecological difference between natural diamonds and lab-grown diamonds (and all the other goods to that effect) is only in the amount of energy spent to produce them, which is a relative value varying not only from company to company, but even from diamond to diamond.

However, the only true distinction is there. Despite the similarity of some of their physical properties, lab-grown diamonds betray their artificial origin under proper inspection, as it is impossible to reproduce the unique journey of a natural diamond born billions of years ago in the molten mantle 100 miles beneath the surface of the Earth and brought to one’s finger by volcanoes. The word ‘natural’ means “found in nature and not involving anything made or done by people” as defined by the Cambridge Dictionary, whereas ‘artificial’ means “made by people, often as a copy of something natural,” according to the same source.

So, it would be logical and appropriate to trade them separately, as they are two entirely different products – one is natural, and the other is artificial. However, there is an ongoing controversy around this issue due to unfair market competition fueled by occasional attempts to promote artificial diamonds at the expense and even under the guise of natural. Unfortunately, this controversy may delude would-be buyers choosing between these two different goods.

However, from what is said above by young people one thing stands out very clear and it is that they value true love and commitment in the first place. And this does not make them very different from other generations despite the change in communication ways. As for engagement rings, it seems that much depends on what they can afford in terms of their income and if they have enough money to buy a natural diamond ring, they will buy it. And if not, it will not mean their mutual feeling will be less genuine in any way – even without a ring at all. They are right saying that feelings depend on people, not on rings.

Aruna Gaitonde, Editor in Chief of the Asian Bureau, Rough&Polished

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