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The largest jewelry company in the world, Pandora, announced that it will no longer use mined diamonds in its wares. Instead, the company opted to use lab-created diamonds, that have the same “optical, chemical, thermal and physical characteristics.” The collection, Pandora Brilliance, is the company’s first created only with diamonds manufactured in labs. Why is this happening now? Bain & Company noted in a recent report that in “the US, and especially in China and India, younger consumers say sustainability is part of their decision-making process and could influence whether they buy diamond jewelry” — the authors found that demand for lab-made stones is growing.
The global diamond market had already begun to transition towards more ethical business practices. Last year, Tiffany & Co introduced a tracing initiative that lets customers know where diamonds are cut, polished, and set.
Diamond sales were only a small portion of Pandora’s sales — they accounted for just 50,000 pieces out of 85 million total pieces sold last year. But these lab-made diamonds are much cheaper to produce and cheaper to purchase, making the stones more accessible to the wider population. These lab-made diamonds are just as good in quality, too. Pandora emphasized that they’re assessed by the same standards as mined diamonds: the “4Cs” (a.k.a. cut, color, clarity, and carat).
“They are as much a symbol of innovation and progress as they are of enduring beauty and stand as a testament to our ongoing and ambitious sustainability agenda,” Pandora CEO Alexander Lacik said in a statement. “Diamonds are not only forever, but for everyone.”
How Do They Do That?
Man-made diamonds are made of actual carbon atoms arranged in the same crystalline structure — they are made of the exact same materials as natural ones and have the same chemical properties. The only difference is that instead of being formed underground they are “grown” in a highly controlled environment using technology that mimics the conditions under which diamonds are formed in the Earth’s crust. It is virtually impossible to tell lab-grown diamonds from those that came from underground — only with specialized equipment that can detect the minor differences in trace elements and crystal growth would an expert (much less an ordinary person) be able to discern the difference.
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