Updated: Sep 20
Yes we said it. Lab diamonds are a complete con. As the high street gets squeezed then it's perhaps no surprise that the mass-market commodity focussed chains like Pandora are resorting to using lab diamonds to try and save their businesses issues and then, cynically in our opinion, presenting them as a fait accompli. They're not, unless that is you're happy with nothing better than costume jewellery (which is no better than many high street chains offer anyway, especially those selling gold-plated jewellery). Lab diamonds are merely the modern equivalent of the emperor's new clothes and you should have no doubt that they are a complete rip-off. Quite frankly, we're shocked at how many high street retailers and online providers have now completely sold out to sell what they fully know them to be a commercial joke, all the while using euphemisms and double talk to try and obfuscate the truth and take your money. Even the FTC has had to jump in and rule that if a product is a lab-grown diamond then the fact that it is man-made must be clearly and conspicuously stated because so many jewellers were advertising lab-grown diamond jewellery or diamond simulants like cubic zirconia, moissanite in such an incredibly deceptive way. The FTC have effectively done the equivalent of insisting all fake handbags have to have that fact literally stamped all over it!
Let us tell you straight - lab diamonds have zero future resale value. Zero. Nil. Nada. They're fake, artificial diamonds at the end of the day so just do the simple maths yourself...
Real, natural and authentic diamonds are incredibly rare, timeless and individually unique. Natural diamonds are up to 3.5 billion years old, are formed up to 500 miles deep in the Earth’s mantle and are all one-of-a-kind, eternal items with immeasurable beauty. They have a completely tangible and appreciable value and are a portable and reliable currency.
Lab-created diamonds on the other hand (synthetic diamonds/fake diamonds) are merely lab-grown, mostly in China, and are mass-produced in no more than a few weeks and usually quicker with modern technology. They literally have zero real value. Buying a lab diamond is like buying a cheap imitation Louis Vuitton handbag as an investment. It isn’t an investment. You know it's fake, others know it’s fake and the simple and obvious fact is that no how good an imitation it is or how you much you paid for it - you cannot ever sell it on as a genuine Louis Vuitton handbag because it's not. It's intrinsically worthless. It's a fugazi.
The costs to buy lab diamonds are plummeting because they're being absolutely churned out and the cost to manufacture them is dramatically decreasing every day. This means that by the time you attempt to resell one, brand new lab diamonds have been manufactured for less than the price you bought your original lab diamond for in the first place and this is a critical reason why they have no genuine resale value. You wouldn't buy a new build house as an investment if you knew the same house could be built a few years later for a fraction of the price (and ultimately less than what you originally paid) would you? It's a house of cards. Market indicators are that lab diamonds have dropped in price 30% a year. That means if you buy a £1,000 lab diamond now then you'll be able to buy the same fake rock for £168 or less in 5 years time. Good luck selling it for even £50. There's quite literally nothing rare, romantic or even remotely distinctive about an artificially and mass-produced lab grown diamond and, since there is no limit to how many of them can be made and sold (compared to the finite and ever-dwindling reserves of real, authentic diamonds), their price will only ever continue to plummet due to over-commercialisation. Aesthetically, lab diamonds do not even refract and reflect light the same way as a natural diamond does and their (artificial) gemmological characteristics are often manipulated with dubious techniques like laser drilling (to remove inclusions), the application of sealants (to fill cracks) and the use of other treatments to improve their otherwise yellowy colour grade. Their very creation requires the use of enormous amounts of energy, chemicals and harmful waste so they're certainly not as eco-friendly as their advocates try to claim although it's true that similar claims could be made against natural diamond mining (which is precisely why we donate a percentage of all sales made through our primary payment gateway to next generation carbon-reduction programmes). The truth is a lot more positive - modern natural diamond mining is actually done under very stringent environmental controls which are strictly enforced by local governments and communities and these include the mining operations having to offset all of their environmental impacts with wide-scale conservation programmes. Let's be clear here - while the word "lab" evokes the image of scientists working inside a gleaming white cleanroom in white lab coats, the reality actually looks like this picture of one such plant - they are actually all factories and not labs at all...
These factories require constant, 24/7 energy to run their huge microwave-heat generators. Since these factories are mostly in China, India and Singapore then these factories are typically fuelled by coal and you'll see below how they have to use around 20 times more energy to create one carat of artificial diamonds than it takes to mine a real one.
The bottom line is this - natural diamonds and diamond jewellery have perpetual value and beauty. Lab grown, fake diamonds have no future value at all. Go buy an imitation diamond made from materials like cubic zirconia and silicon carbide for less than the price of a cup of coffee instead because whether it's costume jewellery or a lab diamond - a fake is still a fake. It's perhaps poetic justice that we actually see dubious vendors selling even more worthless moissanite jewellery as being lab-made and then seeing the lab-diamond fakers crying foul. You really couldn't make it up. You can end up buying a fake of a fake! We're not alone in our absolute disdain of synthetic diamonds. Take The Rapaport Group for example. The Rapaport Group are an international network of companies providing services which support the development of ethical, transparent, competitive and efficient diamond and jewellery markets. Their RapNet service is the world’s largest diamond trading network with over 15k members in 97 countries. They have daily listings of more than 1.5 million diamonds valued at over $8 billion. Members of RapNet recently overwhelmingly voted against introducing any services for synthetic diamonds and actually called on all those selling synthetic diamonds to make full disclosure regarding the inability of synthetic diamonds to store value since they can be produced in unlimited quantities. Their expert members emphatically voted as follows: Should Rapaport publish a price list for synthetic diamonds? No: 74%
Should synthetic diamonds be required to disclose colour and other treatments applied after their creation? Yes: 5,892 (88%)
Should synthetic diamonds require disclosure that they are different from natural diamonds as they have no supply limitations? Yes: 5,528 (85%) Even the Federal Trade Commission have taken a very strict line of action against lab-grown diamonds after having to distribute multiple warning letters regarding advertisements for lab-grown diamond jewellery or diamond simulants and their general position is that they are advertised deceptively. For starters, the FTC have insisted that if a product is a lab-grown diamond then the fact that it is man-made must be clearly and conspicuously stated. They have also noticed that simulated diamonds are being sold with the false implication that the stone was either a lab-grown or a mined diamond and have stamped down on these fakes of a fake. The FTC have warned traders of lab-grown diamonds against advertising their jewellery as “eco-friendly,” “eco-conscious” or “sustainable.” and making what are “unqualified” claims. They have had to warn these companies to exercise care when using hashtags on social media and disclose all the information that is necessary to avoid deception. Damningly, the warning letters from the FTC have also warned everyone against describing simulated diamonds in a way which falsely implies that they have the same optical, physical, and chemical properties of mined diamonds when they obviously don't. You can read the relevant guide for the jewellery and precious metal industry here and you can learn more about the FTC's position from one of their many press releases on this issue here. They also keep telling providers to stop making claims about them being environmentally friendly (which they aren't - see below). To protect consumers, the GIA (Gemmological Institute of America) have already moved to insist that all laboratory-grown diamonds submitted to them have to be laser-inscribed with the GIA report number and the words "LABORATORY-GROWN" so as to ensure that consumers can clearly differentiate them from natural diamonds. They have stated that lab diamonds do not correlate to "nature’s continuum of rarity" since they obviously have zero rarity. Nobody likes to be lied to so we'll warn you now that the vendors of these fake, artificial and wholly synthetic diamonds will usually make the following false claims to try and convince you buy their trinkets :
1. Lab diamonds are real diamonds
No they are not and this is clearly nonsense. Lab-diamonds are absolutely not real diamonds in any way. They are synthetically manufactured in factories which you couldn’t even call a lab without laughing. By design, there is literally nothing real about a lab-diamond. You can’t call a fake Gucci handbag a Gucci handbag, it’s an inferior clone.
2. Lab diamonds have great prices compared to “mined diamonds”
Of course they are because they’re fakes! Forget the ridiculous smoke and mirrors that this cost benefit is somehow because lab diamonds are made without mining and transportation costs, the truth is that lab diamonds cost next-to-nothing to manufacture and the costs to make them in Chinese mega-factories are halving all the time. These vendors call actual, authentic, natural and valuable diamonds “mined diamonds” to insidiously mislead you and try and make the real thing seem somehow bad. This is obviously a vain attempt to belittle real diamonds with compliments. A discount of 40% to 60% on the real deal is utterly meaningless anyway when they have zero future value. None. If you were buying a fake Gucci handbag you’d want a lot more discount in the first place and you’d be fully aware that you could never sell it on as an actual Gucci handbag so you will always know from the get-go that you’re buying something intrinsically worthless. You’d be even less happy if you knew that you’d only have to pay a fraction of the price for that fake in a year or too since they’re being churned out. Ultimately, who would want a Gucci handbag, real or fake, if everyone had one?
3. Lab diamonds have more carats and are higher quality
Again, utter nonsense. The argument here is just that you merely get more fakeness for your money. Spend more and sure you’ll get a bigger fake but parallel to that, the gulf between what you just paid and it’s value becomes even more glaring because it’s still worthless no matter it's size and how well-made a fake it is. And let’s not forget about all the artificial manipulation that lab-diamonds are subjected to so as to make them even better fakes.
4. Lab diamonds are sustainable and ethical
This is another enormous lie. Lab diamonds are made in large, heavily industrialised factories, mostly in China and India. These factories are almost always coal powered and the process to create these fakes requires the use of enormous amounts of energy. It is true that they are sustainable but not in any kind of noble way – they are merely sustainable because there is no upper limit to how many of these synthetic diamonds can be made. And that’s exactly what’s happening – their production line is relentless.
To demonstrate just how laughable and ridiculous any claim that lab-mined diamonds are environmentally friendly (as well as put into context just how many of them are being churned out), let us give you the shocking facts. There are hundreds if not thousands of lab-grown diamond factories around the world now and nearly all are mostly powered by coal. As an example, there is a provider in India (who constantly try and sell us lab-grown diamonds despite our stated position) and they produce 225,000 carats of cut, polished diamonds each and every month. So that’s 2.7m of artificial cut diamonds every year from just this one factory.
Diametrically, in terms of real, natural diamonds, annual production is around 24 million carats of cut polished diamonds a year. This means that this one single lab-grown diamond factory - and we’re talking about just one out of hundreds if not thousands of these outfits - artificially creates almost 20% of the number of real carats of diamonds that are discovered, mined and polished every year. Talk about flooding the market!
Forgetting all the chemicals etc. that these mega-factories use, let’s look at the amount of energy that this one single Indian lab-grown diamond factory alone each year. They have to use a staggering 1,100 kWh (kilowatt hours) of energy to successfully create just one carat of synthetic diamonds. Compare that to natural diamonds which tend to use around 57 kWh to discover, mine, cut and polish a single one carat natural diamond. So, in the most simple terms, this factory has to use almost twenty times as much power/energy to create a fake diamond compared to a real one. The maths here is easy - 1,100 kWh multiplied by the 2.7m carats that this factory produces each year equates to 2,970,000,000 kWh of power every year which is 2,970 GWh (gigawatt hours) of energy. The average annual residential electricity consumption per household is approximately 10,400 kWh per year so they’re using enough energy annually – mostly energy created by coal – to power almost 100,000 homes per year. To put that into context, with there being an average of 2.4 people per household in the UK, 100,000 homes equates to around 240,000 people which is, according to the ONS, about the same population as Newcastle upon Tyne, Coventry, Nottingham, Stoke-on-Trent, Cambridge, Reading or Oxford. And that’s just from this one factory located in a backstreet slum in India. Wow.
Let’s not forget either that the diamond industry employs over 10 million people in some of the poorest areas of the world – our industry directly contributes over $8 billion a year to Africa alone each year and does so at ground level. The footprint of a mined diamond is actually remarkably narrow as it uses no chemicals to extract them, any water used is largely treated and recycled and, as highlighted, uses about one twentieth of the energy. Modern diamond mining is done under heavily stringent environmental controls and diamond mining helps conserve over 260,000 hectares of land. Not a single conservation group has ever endorsed lab-grown diamonds! The simple truth here is that if you do believe in real environmentalism and the fair distribution of income across some of the poorest and most needy communities in the world and are solely comparing the purchase of real, natural diamonds against lab-grown diamonds on that basis alone (forgetting the fact that lab-grown diamonds aren’t even real diamonds anyway) then the only reason you’d ever choose a lab-grown diamond is if you believe in technology and a very small few getting very rich. Count us out.
5. Lab diamonds look exactly the same
Actually, scientifically, they absolutely don’t although for the average consumer it is true that they will be difficult to tell apart from the real deal, at least with the untrained eye. Their gemmological characteristics will have likely been manipulated (colour, clarity etc.), the GIA will have made them laser the words lab diamond onto it, their paperwork will have to state that they are indeed artificial and the truth is that they absolutely do not and cannot even refract light the same way as a natural diamond. Going back to the analogy of the handbag, it’s true that a fake Gucci handbag will often look remarkably similar to the real product. But it’s not the same and you know well full well that it’s a fake and that you thus don’t actually own a Gucci handbag. This is fine if economy is a real concern for you but please don’t kid yourself that you’ve made a good purchase or investment choice.
Anyone can buy a simulated, artificial and synthetic lab-diamond or even a cubic zirconia or a moissanite of any colour but only a few can get their hands on a real diamond, that's a big part of their appeal. This discrepancy is actually one of the reasons why we exist - to try and close the price gap in the market and the (perceived) choice between the truly false economy of buying a fake and you instead investing in the real deal by us offering authentic diamonds to you at wholesale prices and without a ridiculous mark-up.
Can you really imagine uttering the words to your future life partner of "Marry me darling - I've bought you a fake diamond ring to show you just much you mean to me"? Would you feel comfortable trying to hide the certificate from your partner which clearly states it's a fake or would you try and quietly mumble it's a fake to the insurance company when you're on the phone getting it covered? Do you think you'd say to your friends "look at my wife's artificial lab-diamond engagement ring" or do you think you'd try and gloss over that glaring fact?
Save yourself a world of pain and talk to our friendly team on 0800 987 7100 or email email@example.com and we'll do our level best to get you a real diamond for your budget. All our diamond jewellery is sold at way below market rates so the gap between having to buy a fake and getting the real deal is much closer than you may think.