Pandora, the world’s largest jeweler, has announced that it will no longer sell mined natural diamonds, switching exclusively to lab-made stones.
Alexander Lacik, general manager of Pandora at Pandora, explained for the BBC that corporate change is part of their broader efforts towards sustainability. Concerns about labor practices in the mining industry were also considered alongside environmental concerns, he added.
Still grown in the lab
“We can essentially create the same result that nature created, but at a very, very different price,” he explained, adding that man-made diamonds can be made for as little as “one-third of what it costs.” is for something we have”. dug up from the ground. »
“It’s the right thing to do,” he concluded.
Jewelers around the world are looking to man-made diamonds as a way to promote sustainability and meet demand without skyrocketing costs. In 2020, the production of these diamonds reached between 6 and 7 million carats worldwide. Each carat (one carat equals 0.200 grams) produced in a laboratory means one less carat removed from the ground, and therefore less impact on the environment. So, although this change is mainly based on economic concerns, the environment should also benefit.
This increase in lab stones has also translated into a reduction in the total amount of mined diamonds. Worldwide, this figure fell to 111 million carats in 2020, after peaking at 152 million carats in 2017. Another significant factor in this reduction in mined diamonds is due to complications on the production side associated with the pandemic. of coronavirus and a drop in demand.
Pandora will produce its diamonds in Britain, and it is also the first country where they will be commercially available.
Customers will undoubtedly appreciate the better designs and lower prices offered by lab-grown diamonds compared to natural diamonds, the company believes. Surveys conducted for Pandora also suggest that younger generations are also sensitive to the environmental aspect of these diamonds, while it is not even among the top five concerns of older generations.
That being said, alternatives to lab jewelry, such as moissanite rings, have become much more popular lately. Technology has improved, researchers have gotten better at creating more realistic replacements, but there’s a catch: man-made diamonds take a lot of energy to produce. This is necessary to generate and maintain the extreme pressures and temperatures needed for synthetic diamonds or diamond alternatives.
The shift to lab-grown gems certainly helps protect natural landscapes and ecosystems. But we don’t yet have a clear path to truly eco-friendly diamonds because of this energy requirement – energy that is, for the most part, still produced by burning fossil fuels. About 50-60% of the world’s synthetic diamonds come from China; coal-fired power plants still provide the lion’s share of energy here.
Other synthetic diamond producing countries such as the United States focus more on using clean energy (such as hydropower) for the process, but overall the net effect is still quite damaging. for the environment.
Yet, from the customer’s side, these diamonds are identical to natural diamonds. Although there is still a stigma associated with synthetic diamonds, Lacik hopes his company can spearhead a change in perception around these gemstones, albeit man-made. It is, after all, a change made for a very good cause.
“Whether consumers buy more or less [diamonds], right now is actually not the key factor,” he says. “We want to become a low-carbon company. I have four children, I leave this earth one day, I hope I can leave it in a better state than maybe what we have created in the last 50 years or so.
Source: ZME Science