Consumers want to know where their products come from and how they are made. Since the blood diamond conflict in the 1990s, those shopping for diamond jewelry have sought pieces with a clearly defined origin.
More than two decades later, it’s not always enough to know where a diamond or other gemstone was mined. The Kimberly Process does not account for intermediate steps along the supply chain, nor does it factor in sustainability. As a result, lab-grown diamonds or synthetic stones have seen a surge in popularity. According to a recent report from Paul Zimnisky, demand is expected to double by 2025.
About the Report
The report from Paul Zimnisky shows that currently, the lab-grown diamond market is valued at $2 billion and three million carats, up from a few hundred thousand carats three years ago. This uptick contrasts against the mined diamond market, which declined from 152 million to 111 million carats between 2017 and 2021. Consumer cautiousness during the COVID-19 pandemic may have partially fueled this drop. The Zimnisky report further predicts the lab-grown diamond market will be worth $3.9 billion by 2025.
Although jewelers have used diamond alternatives like cubic zirconia and moissanite for decades, lab-grown diamonds resemble their natural counterparts across the “4Cs”. Lab technology mimics how the Earth generates a diamond. Rather than taking thousands of years to form, a synthetic stone can be created within one to four weeks and offers a more precise appearance with fewer inclusions. The following changes have helped to fuel the lab-grown jewelry market.
Changes from Retailers
Even after synthetic diamonds appeared for commercial use, jewelry retailers were initially skeptical, thinking consumers would continue to gravitate toward natural stones.
Yet growing awareness of the mining industry and potential gray areas in the supply chain have influenced interest in lab-grown alternatives. As a result, stores like Hannoush Jewelers of Connecticut carry a selection of lab-grown stones in addition to their natural counterparts.
Interest In Sustainability
Although the Zimnisky report shows that sustainability is not the primary driving factor, younger generations have started demanding more accountability from retailers and supply chains. In turn, more Millennials and Gen Z consumers seek out lab-grown diamonds for a conflict-free source that does not damage the Earth.
Yet not all lab-grown diamonds are equal in terms of sustainability. Stones created through high-pressure, high-temperature technology consume more energy. Meanwhile, hydro-powered solutions generate zero emissions.
By the numbers, both methods use less energy than mining, which releases 125 pounds of carbon for every carat found. A lab-grown diamond uses about 44 pounds per carat on average.
Affordability and Changes In the Jewelry Market
Lab-grown diamonds have arrived when the jewelry industry is going through an overhaul. Weddings and other special occasions for giving jewelry used to be the primary driver of sales. However, aging Millennial consumers with more purchasing power are buying pieces for themselves and have created what’s known as the “fashion jewelry” market.
Although “fashion jewelry” typically makes us think of nickel pieces with rhinestones, the current term applies to mid-priced pieces that use gold, silver or tungsten with real stones. As the process behind creating lab-grown diamonds is less labor intensive, these pieces are sold at more affordable prices – sometimes 75-percent less than natural stones – and therefore appeal to Millennial consumers with refined fashion tastes and more disposable income looking to purchase a style or investment piece.
More For Your Dollar
Those seeking a larger, clearer stone or more karats are more likely to find one within their budget among lab-grown options. Thus, whether you’re seeking an engagement ring with a larger center stone or a cluster formation, these possibilities end up being within reach due to the lower prices of lab-grown diamonds.
To start your search for synthetic diamonds, turn to Hannoush Jewelers. Visit one of our Connecticut stores to see lab-grown jewelry pieces in person.