LONDON — The popularity of lab-grown diamonds is surging, especially among newlyweds seeking a more sustainable and affordable alternative to traditional mined gems. Some jewelers report that interest in these synthetic diamonds has skyrocketed by over 2,000% in the last five years.
Physically and chemically indistinguishable from natural diamonds, lab-grown versions can cost up to 85% less, making them an increasingly attractive option. A recent study involving 1,500 prospective brides and grooms found that 70% would consider choosing a lab-grown diamond. The primary motivations for this shift are value for money (55%) and sustainability (43%). Interestingly, 69% of respondents admitted they couldn’t differentiate between lab-grown and natural diamonds.
This perception was tested in a video where passersby were visibly stunned to learn about the significant price difference and also struggled to tell the two types of diamonds apart.
Queensmith, a London-based diamond retailer located in the historic Hatton Garden district, reveals that their market for lab-grown diamonds has increased by an astounding 2,860% in just five years.
“It’s no surprise to see people moving away from mined diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds offer a more affordable and environmentally friendly alternative, which resonates with a lot of consumers,” says a spokesperson for Queensmith, which commissioned the research. “Despite 70% of respondents expressing a willingness to opt for a lab-grown diamond, our research shows that 46% weren’t even aware such diamonds existed. As awareness grows, we expect the demand for lab-grown diamonds to continue rising.”
Lab-grown diamonds the ‘new normal’
The study also indicates that 53% of those planning to get married would opt for a less expensive engagement ring if it meant they could allocate more funds to their wedding day. Priorities for these couples were mainly the venue (53%) and wedding outfits (34%), with wedding rings trailing in third place at 31%.
The shifting attitudes toward diamonds are underscored by 71% of respondents believing that lab-grown diamonds will become the new normal in the future. In fact, 27% already own jewelry featuring a lab-grown diamond, and 32% know others who have made similar purchases.
Beyond weddings, popular gift items featuring lab-grown diamonds include necklaces (52%), earrings (50%), and bracelets (44%). When it comes to understanding lab-grown options, only 26% of those surveyed, via OnePoll, felt they had a good grasp of what a lab-grown diamond actually is.
“Lab-grown diamonds have only been on the market for a short time, so it’s understandable that there’s room for public awareness to grow. Sales are booming by 65% year-on-year, and this upward trend is likely to continue,” adds the spokesperson for Queensmith. “As people become more educated about lab-grown diamonds, we anticipate seeing even greater demand.”
Lab-grown diamonds are fabricated using methods that mimic natural formation processes: chemical vapor deposition (CVD) and high-pressure high-temperature (HPHT). In the HPHT process, pure carbon is placed inside a metal cube and subjected to intense heat and pressure. The carbon then crystallizes into a diamond. Traces of metal within an HPHT diamond are usually minuscule and generally not visible to the naked eye, making these diamonds often considered superior in quality to those created via CVD.
South West News Service writer Charlie Bayliss contributed to this report.