Laboratory-grown diamonds are booming in popularity – and are much better value for money | Science | News

Laboratory-grown diamonds are booming in popularity, as newlyweds opt for a more sustainable alternative to mined gems. Some jewelers say interest has grown by more than 2,000 percent in five years, as people look for more affordable options.

Physically and chemically identical to their natural counterpart, but costing up to 85 percent less, lab-grown diamonds are increasingly being seen as the better-value alternative.

And a study of 1,500 would-be husbands and wives found 70 percent would be willing to opt for a lab-grown alternative.

Value for money (55 percent), and sustainability (43 percent), are the main reasons they’d make the switch to a diamond created in a laboratory.

But 69 percent admitted they wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the two types of gems.

Following the findings, it was put to the test in a video, which shows passers-by left stunned when told about the price difference, and also struggling to tell the diamonds apart.

It comes as London-based diamond retailer, Queensmith, situated in the historic Hatton Garden district, revealed the market for lab-grown diamonds has increased by 2,860 percent in just five years.

In 2019, its lab-grown sales equaled to just one percent of overall diamond sales – but this year, that figure has swelled to 81 percent of overall sales, with the jeweler on track to sell 1,900 lab-grown diamonds.

A spokesman for the brand, which commissioned the research, said: “It’s no surprise to see people willing to move away from mined diamonds.

“Lab-grown diamonds provide a great alternative that is more affordable and less impactful on the environment, which is a big concern for most people.

“The trend of people moving towards lab-grown alternatives isn’t going away.

“Despite 70 percent saying they would be willing to opt for a lab-grown diamond, our research shows 46 percent were not aware lab diamonds even existed.

“As that number continues to go down, we expect demand for lab-grown diamonds to continue to rise.”

The study also found 53 percent of those who plan to tie the knot would choose a cheaper engagement ring, if it meant they could splash out more on their wedding day.

The venue (53 percent) and the wedding outfit (34 percent) are the main priorities – with wedding rings (31 percent) in third place.

The changing tide in attitudes towards gems is further highlighted by the 71 percent feeling that lab-grown diamonds will be the new normal in the future.

For some, that future is already here, as 27 percent already owned jewelery with a lab-grown diamond in it, while 32 percent knew of others who had bought lab diamond jewelery.

Away from weddings, the top gifts people would look to buy from their partners containing non-mined diamonds include necklaces (52 percent), earrings (50 percent), or a bracelet (44 percent).

However, when it comes to knowledge of lab alternatives, only 26 percent of those polled, via OnePoll, feel they had a good grasp of what a lab-grown diamond is.

The spokesman for Queensmith added: “Lab-grown diamonds have only been on the market for a short amount of time, so it’s no surprise to see that people’s understanding can be improved.

“Just a few years ago, these were items which weren’t available to the mainstream public.

“However, now sales are booming by 65 percent year on year – and they’re continuing to trend upwards.

“As people become more knowledgeable about lab diamonds, I’m sure we’ll see increased demand, and clients are looking to learn more for themselves.

“Although not as rare as their natural diamond counterpart, they’re just as beautiful, and provide an excellent, more eco-friendly alternative for those who might be priced out otherwise.”

Lab grown diamonds are created in an artificial setting which mimics how they are made naturally.

There are two methods – chemical vapor deposition, and high pressure, high temperature.

During HPHT, pure carbon is pressed within a metal cube and exposed to immense heat and pressure through electric pulses, until the carbon breaks down and crystallises into a diamond.

Any metal traces within a HPHT diamond will be minuscule, and usually not visible to the naked eye, with most experts considering HPHT diamonds to be of better quality than CVD diamonds.