- Are lab-grown diamonds a girl’s best friend? -

At Philippa Herbert, we aspire to stay true to our traditional roots and create beautiful, classic pieces of jewellery, whilst also staying current and maintaining a modern edge. The same is true for our stones. As our clients become increasingly interested in finding more environmentally friendly alternatives for some of the pieces in their jewellery collections, we have developed a choice portfolio of bespoke jewellery that uses only the finest, certified lab-grown diamonds. So, whether a lab-grown diamond features as a show-stopping single solitaire or as an accompanying accent on our pendants and bracelets; our clients can be confident that their synthetic diamonds will provide the exact same sparkle and allure as natural diamonds.

(Natural) diamonds are forever?

The most famous of all precious stones, diamonds are not only aesthetically beautiful but are truly unique and come with a rich history. The word diamond itself is derived from the Ancient Greek word ‘adámas’, which translates to unbreakable or unconquerable, and though this alludes to both their physical and symbolic properties, the story of the diamond begins long before Ancient Greece…

Natural diamonds are created deep beneath the earth’s crust and take billions of years to form, through a combination of extreme heat and pressure. The intensity of these forces are responsible for diamonds’ measurement of 10 out of 10 on the ‘Mohs’ hardness scale, making them the hardest material known to man. This makes diamonds extremely durable; only a diamond is able to scratch another diamond, making them a perfect choice to symbolise everlasting love, as, after all, ‘diamonds are forever’.

However, don’t let the name fool you, natural diamonds are obtained through a process of destructive underground mining, of which the environmental impact can be significant. For example, a traditionally mined diamond will produce over a staggering 125 pounds of carbon and use 125 gallons of water per carat. On top of the concern around its emissions, land disturbances and the impact on biodiversity are also major risks posed by the diamond mining industry. Some might feel that these impacts somewhat tarnish the age-old romance of a diamonds sparkle, yet whilst natural diamonds continue to be the most popular choice of gemstone, lab-grown diamonds are rapidly rising in popularity.

Lab-grown Diamonds

Perhaps in need of a more formal introduction than their elders, lab-grown diamonds represent a fairly new disruption to the jewellery market. Before 2018, lab-grown diamonds made up less than 1% of the total global diamond jewellery market. However, as consumers increasingly opt for more environmentally friendly options, the lab-grown diamond market continues to steadily grow. So, what are they?

As the name suggests, lab-grown diamonds are simply diamonds created in a laboratory, rather than underground in the Earth’s mantle. Often misunderstood, this really is the only difference between the two. One of the main accusations that lab-grown diamonds face is whether they are in fact real diamonds. Yet, lab-grown diamonds and natural diamonds are physically, optically, and anatomically identical. Therefore, as lab-grown diamonds are graded by the same 4Cs as natural diamonds (cut, colour, clarity and carat) and they have the same chemical structure, even a certified gemmologist cannot tell the two apart without specialist equipment!


Why buy a lab-grown diamond?

One of the main accolades of lab-grown diamonds is that they are comparatively much more sustainable than natural diamonds. This is because the production of a lab-grown diamond emits only 6 pounds of carbon and use 18 gallons of water per carat. What’s more, they are also a fraction of the cost of a traditional diamond, averaging approximately 40% less expensive. Fortunately for consumers, buying a lab-grown diamond over a natural diamond isn’t a case of you get what you pay for, because lab diamonds are created in highly controlled laboratory environments and so are often of better quality, in terms of purity, than their natural counterparts. With this in mind, our clients might well ask why lab-grown diamonds are less expensive if they’re the same thing? In short, this comes down to production costs and issues of scarcity. Natural diamonds are a finite material and so the natural diamond supply is limited, whereas a theoretically infinite amount of diamonds can be created in a lab and this dramatically brings down the cost.

This has, naturally (pun intended), posed a real threat to the traditional diamond industry that relies primarily on mining. To the extent that some mining companies have (unsuccessfully) lobbied for governments to ratify that lab-grown diamonds are not to be referred to as ‘diamonds’ at all!


A personal choice

Ultimately, just as buying any piece of jewellery is an incredibly personal process and is down to the individuals’ unique tastes, so too is the choice between a natural or a lab-grown diamond. Whilst a lab grown diamond doesn’t require the same extensive land-mass and expensive infrastructure and that mining a natural diamond does, the carbon-intensive process of producing a lab-grown diamond is certainly something to be considered. Similarly, it is important to note that natural diamonds are not themselves unethical, unless you buy a blood diamond – which, due to the UN’s Kimberley Process is almost impossible.

 Nevertheless, at Philippa Herbert, we strive to always keep up to date with changing trends and oscillating markets so that we can provide our clients with beautiful, unique, and thoughtful pieces of jewellery that will stand the test of time. Whether you decide to go for a lab-grown diamond or a natural diamond, we know you will love it.