Some major jewelry retailers are driving the effort to take man-made diamonds mainstream. In 2021, the world’s largest jewelry company, Pandora (PANDY), made a major shift by announcing it would stop using mined diamonds and would swap to lab-created diamonds in its jewelry.
Pandora said it’s instituting the change as part of an effort to sell sustainable jewelry, and also because consumers increasingly are asking for it.
Signet, (SIG) the largest jewelry company in the United States (which owns Zales, Kay Jewelers and Jared chains) called out the popularity of lab diamond jewelry in its March earnings call with analysts.
Calling it a “fast-growing category” in its jewelry portfolio, Signet CEO Virginia Drosos told analysts that lab-created diamonds are among the big jewelry trends she expects this year.
The company said it has expanded its man-made bridal jewelry selection in both its Zales and Kay Jewelers stores in response to the increased demand.
Fine jewelry brand Charles and Colvard, which makes lab-created diamonds, said consumers don’t just want to look good with the jewelry they are wearing, they also want to feel good about it.
“As the momentum for conscious consumerism grows, the surge towards lab grown diamonds isn’t surprising,” said Don O’Connell, president and CEO of Charles & Colvard. “[Consumers] want to know the origins of their stones and be reassured they’re conflict-free. They’re embracing the choice to purchase a piece of fine jewelry that aligns with their values.”
Lab-grown diamond brand VRAI said the pandemic, too, has sparked attention and action toward social and environmental issues. It said consumers are being more thoughtful and reassessing their purchasing habits, as well as the companies and industries they are supporting.
There is, however, one important consideration for anyone buying lab-created diamonds: Man-made diamonds have little resale value.
So while you may not be able to tell a natural diamond from a factory made variety, someone with a trained eye can, said Golan. Once a stone is identified as a factory diamond, even though you paid a lot less for it, you also won’t get much for it.
But the value of a ring isn’t just monetary.
“As a professional in the industry, I am asked all the time by people about what I think about a ring they have,” said Moran, of Concierge Jewelers. “I always say, if you love it, be happy with it. An engagement ring is a symbol of commitment and enduring love.”