The Newfound Democracy of the Diamond Industry

With the rise of advancing technology and the uphold of moral and ethical standards amongst consumers, a disruption within the diamond industry has occurred. There is a clear generational divide when it comes to the mined vs. lab-grown diamond debate. Lab-grown diamonds – chemically engineered gems that are identical in both physical appearance and chemical composition to mined diamonds – have gained extreme favorability amongst those who identify as “Millennials” or members of “Gen Z”. This new young generation is attracted to these diamonds for a number of factors, such as affordability (typically 30-40% cheaper than mined diamonds), and ethical origins in regard to both the environment and workers rights.

According to Vogue’s article Can Lab-Grown Diamonds Become a Girl’s Best Friend?, “for a single carat of diamond, approximately 250 tonnes of earth have to be dug up, 2,011 ounces of air pollution is released and 143 pounds of carbon dioxide is emitted”.

In addition, miners in large diamond supplying countries (mostly third world nations) are subjected to basic human rights violations. Ethics, sustainability, and affordability are considered the most important factors to this generation when buying a diamond.

In comparison, older generations favor tradition in terms of diamonds. They believe that diamonds mined from the Earth are considered more “real” than lab-grown, and therefore are more unique and have more monetary value.

Authenticity has always been the main reason of support for mined diamonds, with those claiming that lab-grown gems are “fake” diamonds, often comparing them to cubic zirconia. In reality, these claims are a popular myth within the industry.

The divide has created a lot of questions as to what the future holds for the diamond industry. While mined diamonds still represent the majority, it is evident that support for lab-grown is on the rise.

According to Vogue, “the percentage of consumers willing to buy an engagement ring with a lab-grown diamond is steadily increasing, rising from 55 per cent in 2016 to almost 70 per cent in 2018”.