Love the beauty of a forever diamond but also love the planet? Then why not consider a diamond grown above the ground. Also termed lab-grown, these diamonds are just as beautiful as mined diamonds, but can be bought for less of an environmental price tag than those of their counterparts. If the idea sounds appealing, then read on.
What is a lab-grown diamond?
A lab-grown diamond is a diamond grown above the ground in lab ‘greenhouses’ above the earth under controlled conditions which mimic the growth of a mined diamond. They are real diamonds in every sense of the word, except they have not taken billions of years to produce deep within the earth’s crust. Each one is unique with its own set of characteristics.
Now for the science bit.
Two techniques are currently used. HPHT (High Pressure High Temperature) replicates the high pressures and temperature found in the earth when mined diamonds are created. A slice of diamond, known as a ‘seed’ is placed into a piece of carbon and the pressure and temperature used force the carbon to form a diamond.
CVD (Chemical Vapour Deposition) places a slice of diamond in a vacuum chamber filled with carbon-heavy gases. Under extremely high temperatures, the gases turn into plasma which binds with the diamond slice to build a diamond in layers.
Does that make them real though?
The GIA, (Gemological Institute of America) confirms they are ‘real diamonds’. In scientific terms, they are 100% pure crystallised carbon. They have the same optical, chemical, thermal and physical features, which means they have that magical sparkle only a diamond can have.
The GIA, for example, also offers the same clarity and colour grading on its diamond reports for lab-grown diamonds as it does for natural diamonds, bringing peace of mind to the buyer.
However, what about their green credentials?
Do lab-grown diamonds have a carbon footprint?
Lab-grown diamonds require energy to produce diamonds. Only those labs who use 100% renewable energy in the process can claim to be totally carbon neutral. However, lab-grown diamonds do have less impact on the environment than their earth counterparts. They do not take up land mass or have the associated risks attached to mining operations, both in terms of their impact on humans and nature.
For lovers of nature, it’s a compelling argument.
There are also companies striving to adopt renewable energy within their growing process and some who can claim to have a zero carbon footprint. They use energy, but because it is derived from renewable sources, can call it ‘good energy’.
For example, a company originally funded by American movie star Leonardo DiCaprio called Diamond Foundry has been disrupting the diamond industry in recent years by producing diamonds in America’s Pacific West, powered by the Columba River – 100% hydro-powered means zero emissions.
They are also planning a $850m diamond Foundry in Europe which will harness the power of solar electricity. The Extremadura region in Spain is abundant with solar energy and the project will serve both diamond buyers and the semiconductor industries – watch this space. There are exciting times ahead!
‘Show me the diamond’
For those looking to buy diamond jewellery, another major obstacle to owning a diamond ring for example, is the preconceived cost. We love what we love but many of us in the real world have to work to a budget.
The good news is that your budget will go further with a lab-grown diamond because they cost less by carat to produce.
Lab-grown diamonds can cost approximately up to 40% less than mined diamonds. This means you could either buy a bigger stone or upgrade your clarity/colour grading to buy a better quality diamond. Therefore, they are not only kinder to the environment, but also kinder to your pocket and you get more sparkle.
Feel the love
There’s a lot to love about a lab-grown diamond and it seems we are not the only ones to think so. The fashion industry are embracing the notion of wearing lab-grown diamonds as a sustainable option for the future.
The concept of sustainability in the fashion industry is a growing trend highlighted by groups such as the Model Mafia; a community of model activists brought together by Cameron Russell and Áine Campbell, who are working to build a more equitable and sustainable fashion industry and world.
Many are engaging with younger generations on how to build an ethical and sustainable fashion future and choosing lab-grown jewellery is one way to wear your values.
From fashion models to the red carpet crowd, the following have been seen wearing lab-grown jewellery in recent times. Well known celebrities such as Julia Roberts, Gal Gadot, Drake, Lucy Liu, Kate Mara, Brianna Hildebrand and singers like Maren Morris have all rocked up to recent events with their sparkling stones in stud earrings, rings, belts and even jackets.
If you are looking to maximise your sparkle whilst tiptoeing on the grass, then a lab-grown diamond is a worthy consideration.