Lab Diamonds VS 'Real' Diamonds: We Break Down the Ethics, Cost and Environmental Impact

“Not even trained jewellers know the difference,” says one publicist of the lab- versus mined-stone debate.


“Not even trained jewellers know the difference,” says one publicist of the lab- versus mined-stone debate.

With the FTC's new stance on lab diamonds and the debate around the ethics and environmental ramifications of mined diamonds, we predict consumer interest in—and access to—lab diamonds will be bigger than ever in 2019.

Innocently enough, I ask Spence CEO Eric Lindberg if lab diamonds are as good as mined. “‘Good’ is an arbitrary word,” says Lindberg. “I would say this: A lab diamond, from an atomic standpoint, is identical to a mined diamond in the structure of that stone. From a physical chemical property standpoint, it’s exactly the same as a mined diamond. Jewellers cannot tell them apart.”

In the showroom, I admire a ring with a simple princess-cut diamond that would cost $8,550 for a mined stone and $6,600 for an ACD. The store’s director of sales shows me two diamonds: one mined, one lab. To my untrained eye, the only difference between them is that the mined diamond has a minor, yet charming, flaw.

There’s also the matter of pricing: Lab-created diamonds at Spence are 25 to 50 per cent larger than similarly priced mined ones. Which is how De Beers, the world’s largest diamond distributor, pulled the jewellery equivalent of a mic drop when it unveiled Lightbox, a subsidi­ary now selling lab-diamond jewellery online. Lightbox pieces are priced lower than those of competitors (a quarter-carat stone starts at $200 U.S.) and advertised in a way that recalls long walks on the beach, frosted doughnuts and pink Champagne.

Read more: FASHION Magazine

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