For Pandora, lab-made diamonds are forever. The world’s largest jewelry maker said on Tuesday it would no longer use mined diamonds – a move, it said, which stemmed in part from consumer demand.
Copenhagen-based Pandora Group announced on Tuesday to launch its first collection exclusively created with diamonds made in laboratories. He said the move was aimed at making the company’s jewelry more affordable, accessible and sustainable.
The collection is first launched in the UK and is expected to expand globally in 2022.
“They are as much a symbol of innovation and progress as they are of lasting beauty and a testament to our ongoing and ambitious sustainability agenda,” said Pandora CEO Alexander Lacik, referring to diamonds from laboratory. “Diamonds are not only forever, but for everyone.”
Lacik told BBC News that synthetic diamonds can be made for as little as “a third of what it is for something we dug out of the ground.”
According to Pandora, known for its silver charm bracelets, lab-created diamonds are overtaking mined diamonds in the growing industry. The company claims they “have the same optical, chemical, thermal and physical characteristics and are graded to the same standards known as 4C – cut, color, clarity and carat.”
Their lab-grown diamonds are made with over 60% renewable energy on average, Pandora said. The company plans to increase that percentage to 100% next year, with plans to be completely carbon neutral and use only recycled metals by 2025.
“We want to become a low carbon company,” Lacik told the BBC. “I have four children, I am leaving this land one day, I hope I can leave it in a better state than maybe what we have kind of created over the last 50 years.
A slowly changing industry
The global jewelry market has been slow to evolve, despite decades of reports of human rights violations in diamond mines, but some improvements have been made. In 2019, Tiffany & Co. announced that it would disclose to all its customers the region where their diamonds come from, explaining its route from mine to store, in what it called a “significant step towards transparency. diamonds “.
According to a report released in November 2020 by Human Rights Watch, “Large jewelry companies are improving their supply of gold and diamonds, but most cannot assure consumers that their jewelry is not tainted with human rights violations.” .
The report says many diamond miners continue to work in unsafe conditions and the pandemic has only increased the risk of exploitation and abuse. Some of the worst abuses are happening in Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Mali, the Philippines and Tanzania.
Human Rights Watch did not rate any of the 15 companies it rated “excellent”, but rated two – Tiffany & Co. and Pandora – as “strong” for taking significant steps towards responsible sourcing. “Kalyan, Mikimoto, Rolex and TBZ the lowest ranked companies.
In recent years, a number of companies specializing in lab-grown diamonds or alternative stones have grown in popularity, providing consumers with more affordable jewelry without the same environmental and ethical issues surrounding traditional diamonds and so-called diamonds. blood, which is mined in war zones and sold to finance war efforts.
Diamond sales are down
According to a recent research report from the Antwerp World Diamond Center and Bain & Company, global diamond revenue declined by 15% to 33% in 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic. The production of rough diamonds fell by 20% and sales by 15%.
In addition, lab-grown diamond production reached 6-7 million carats, while mined diamond production fell to 111 million carats, after peaking at 152 million in 2017, according to the report.
“Social welfare and sustainability were growing issues in previous years. They now occupy a prominent place for mining, trading and retail companies,” the report said. “In the United States, and particularly in China and India, young consumers are saying that sustainability is part of their decision-making process and could influence the purchase of diamond jewelry.”
But some mainstream businesses say the pandemic was a fluke. According to De Beers, the world’s largest diamond company, demand for rough diamonds in 2021 has returned to pre-COVID-19 levels, after production fell 18% last year.
De Beers reports that 47% of consumers disagree that lab-grown diamonds are ‘real’, but they are still interested in buying them because they are cheaper than mined diamonds and are considered ‘fun’ and “fashionable”.