“Diamonds for Everyone: How Lab-Grown Stones Are Changing the Game in the Jewelry Industry”

Author Lia Andrienko
Category Columnists, Culture, Lifestyle, Town
Date February 27 2024
Reading Time 4 min.

“Diamonds for Everyone: How Lab-Grown Stones Are Changing the Game in the Jewelry Industry”

Natural diamonds have always been an essential attribute of luxury, symbolizing the eternity and uniqueness of a woman. Just a decade ago, the advertising slogan of high-end jewelry brands was, “Diamonds are not for everyone, diamonds are for the chosen ones!”

According to the canons of many romantic comedies of that time, the main heroine had to make a fleeting appearance in one of the film’s scenes in an evening gown adorned with impressive diamonds. Women in the audience held their breath with envy, gazing at this unattainable dream for many.

The necklace with a yellow diamond from the movie “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” worn by the character played by Kate Hudson, and the admiring gaze of Matthew McConaughey looking at her, became the stuff of dreams for many. The film was released in 2003 when the romantic comedy genre was one of the most successful at the box office. Of course, many luxury brands aspired to showcase their creations in a potentially profitable film, especially one featuring such a brilliant pair of actors.

In the case of the movie “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” viewers still remember the Harry Winston necklace with a yellow diamond. The precious stone weighed an estimated 84 carats, and the cost of the jewelry at that time was $6 million. After filming, the necklace found its way into a private collection, and the lucky recipient of this stunning piece remains a mystery. Matching stud earrings with 5-carat yellow diamonds were paired with the necklace, and a satin dress in the same color was specially tailored to complement the ensemble. The total value of the gemstones featured in the film exceeded $14 million.

In 2024, 21 years after the movie’s release, we see that an era of change has arrived. Modern women, becoming more informed and responsible, are discovering the world of lab-grown diamonds. This shift is linked to ethical and environmental challenges facing our society, and it has become a significant aspect of choice for the contemporary woman seeking beauty with a clear conscience.

For the first time, lab-grown diamonds were cultivated in 1954 by General Electric. At that time, they significantly differed from natural diamonds, being of lower quality and lacking interest among buyers.

 

If just a few years ago, discussions about the use of synthetic stones in designer collections were considered unacceptable in professional jeweler circles, now it is acknowledged that lab-grown diamonds offer a unique opportunity for self-expression and help bring the boldest design ideas to life. In 2024, the former slogan of jewelers, “Diamonds for the chosen ones,” lost its strength. The new motto, exemplified by Anabela Chan and Pandora, is “Diamonds for everyone,” and lab-grown stones are virtually indistinguishable from natural ones visually.

Lab-grown diamonds have become an integral part of the world of fashion and style. Designers advocate that artificial can be just as attractive as natural. The combination of individuality and innovation in synthetic stones makes them an ultra-contemporary trend, and it seems that lab-grown diamonds have triumphed over natural ones.

The first luxury brand to incorporate lab-grown diamonds into its creations was Prada. Their signature triangular cut is familiar to many, marking a significant shift in the industry. 

The cost of lab-grown diamonds is significantly lower than that of natural diamonds, making them more accessible to a larger number of consumers. In the coming years, the lab-grown diamond market is expected to reach $14 billion.

However, not everything is smooth sailing for jewelers; the rise in competition is driving down the cost of lab-grown stones, resulting in decreased profitability for their businesses. If in 2016, one carat cost around $5500, its price dropped to $1425 by 2023. Even reputable fashion publications report that De Beers has lowered prices on their natural diamonds by up to 40% due to companies’ demand for lab-grown diamonds.

Signet, the largest jewelry company in the USA, notes that the prevailing trend in the preferences of newlyweds is engagement rings featuring larger stones ranging from 1 to 3 carats, yellow gold, and intricate shapes for center stones, such as oval, pear, and emerald.

Regarding the cost difference, a 1-carat engagement ring with a lab-grown diamond can be up to 60% cheaper than a ring with a natural 1-carat diamond.

New jewelry brands are rapidly emerging, targeting a broader audience beyond affluent women. They collaborate with influencers and achieve swift sales. For example, Dorsey, a brand with a well-positioned fashion image, has grown by 600%, considering it opened its doors only in 2019.

Sometimes, we still hear experts diplomatically state that lab-grown diamonds cannot be compared to natural diamonds; they will never replace genuine diamonds. Natural stones have their origin story, a history of imperfection. Having spent millions of years in the earth, they carry and transmit their unique, living energy to the owner. However, for the modern consumer, this might not be crucial, especially when new technologies allow artificial stones to closely mimic the original.

Brands cater to the consumer, and if they are willing to “vote with their wallets,” they will undoubtedly get what they want, even in terms of color. The Fred brand, one of the jewelry brands under LVMH, offers blue-colored diamonds, a color that does not exist in nature, but buyers may remain unaware of this fact. Artificial gemstones are not viewed as investments, and they have steadily begun to lose value after the gemstone market experienced rapid growth.

The emphasis is on meeting consumer preferences, and as long as buyers are willing to make purchasing decisions based on their preferences, brands are likely to continue providing what the consumers desire, even if it involves artificial gemstones with unique colors not found in nature.

The market for engagement rings persists, as a diamond is still considered the epitome of strength and hardness. It is challenging to scratch or damage, symbolizing wealth and generosity from the future spouse. Consequently, engagement rings are often more expensive than wedding bands. These rings serve as symbols of passion, marital fidelity, and an imminent change in status for the woman.

However, almost one in four engagement rings in 2023 had an artificial, not always diamond, as the central and largest stone. This represents an 11% increase over the past two years, according to a report from the wedding planning website The Knot.

The growing popularity of lab-grown diamonds among young couples is also driven by the environmentally conscious mindset of millennials and Generation Z. These demographics represent the majority of buyers in the bride category. The lower cost of lab-grown diamonds allows couples to afford larger stones.

Currently, 4.7% of the diamond jewelry market in the United States is represented by lab-grown diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds are no longer just about sparkle and love; they also reflect a reevaluation of values in modern society, where tradition gives way to contemporary perspectives on the world.

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