Updated: Sep 21
As we’re sure many of you may have seen, Pandora recently launched another new TV ad-campaign lauding their synthetic lab-made / lab-grown diamonds. Since these artificial, fake diamonds that are made in mega-factories are effectively worthless, we do feel compelled to say that, personally, we find advertising like this not only deeply irritating but egregiously misleading. It definitely goes to further stoke our own publicly stated desire to absolutely disrupt the entire jewellery industry especially in terms of lab diamonds and in their overall greed and disdain for customers. To be crystal clear, lab-made diamonds are just fake, artificial diamonds which have zero resale value and they have absolutely no intrinsic value or romantic appeal. This is a subject we cover in great detail in our blog on why lab-diamonds are a complete con here which we'd urge you to read to learn the real facts. Pandora have now, sadly, absolutely sold-out to this enormous con and we believe they’ve done so cynically for profit. You can clearly see below 9 examples proving that our real, natural diamond jewellery is actually around the same price or often far less expensive than Pandora’s artificial lab-grown diamond jewellery which is something which may well surprise you given our position as the leading online retailer of luxury, natural diamond jewellery.
As the story goes, Prometheus stole fire from heaven to give to man. To punish humanity, the other gods created the first woman - Pandora. Zeus gave her a box and told her never to open it but as soon as he was out of sight she took off the lid and out swarmed all the troubles of the world, never to be recaptured. For Pandora, lab-diamonds may well turn out to be one of their biggest troubles now that this particular box has been opened by them… For most in our industry, Pandora are a mass-market provider of what we'd probably all consider to be costume jewellery at best and they are certainly not a competitor to us (and nor are we to them - at least not yet anyway). While well reported facts like their Glassdoor employee reviews may not paint them to be the best company to work for, objectively we’re upfront enough to say that there’s a lot of good to be said about Pandora, as a brand at least. To be perfectly honest, we’ve bought items from them in the (distant) past ourselves as there were people we knew who had a Pandora charm bracelet and had specifically asked us for something from there as a gift. We fully appreciate that many people enjoy Pandora jewellery for its accessibility, customisation options and sentimental value - particularly their charm bracelets since they allow for personalisation and storytelling. That's a nice thing. We don’t want to criticise anyone who chooses Pandora because budget is of course often a key buying criteria and they do have many very-low priced items (but as we demonstrate below, it's often false economy and they're not even priced lower than us). However, everything they do is very uniform, standardised and mainstream. We get it though - their packaging is on point, their stores are pretty slick and for what’s generally just generic costume jewellery, it does often look quite pretty. While we don't offer anything like-for-like for the bulk of their range (since we're just not about leather bracelets, charms, man-made stones like cubic zirconia etc.) there is now some crossover as they're attempting to sell (or, as we'd argue, pass-off) synthetic diamond jewellery as the real deal when it's just not.
As professional diamantaires, we despise their position on using lab-diamonds since we know what a complete rip-off they are. In doing so, they’re selling a false dream and, like many others on the high-street and elsewhere, they are doing so in what we perceive to be a very cynical and disingenuous way. We’re not the only critics to argue that Pandora jewellery is mostly low-quality when compared to luxury jewellery brands like We Love Diamonds and there are a number of key differences that we’d like to stress to put as much distance between their products and ours - especially given the misnomer that they offer any kind of genuine value when it comes to lab-diamond jewellery, cubic zirconia, plated jewellery, sterling silver etc.
Firstly, Pandora primarily often uses sterling silver as mentioned and many of their products are actually hollow which means that they have the potential to break very easily. We do love silver to be honest and it is indeed more affordable than the solid precious metals that we use ourselves like gold and platinum - we can get it for about 30p a gram! However, while this does help make some of their jewellery more accessible in terms of price, we know that it will never meet the quality expectations of those looking for the premium materials that we use. Sterling silver easily tarnishes over time and it requires regular maintenance. We Love Diamonds only use solid precious metals with a full UK Hallmark. We don’t use silver in our jewellery nor do we ever use plated metals since this is also something we view as an enormous rip-off. We’re aware that some of Pandora’s pieces are offered in gold-plated silver, for example, and you may therefore be shocked to learn that a gold-plated piece of jewellery typically has less than 0.05% of its overall weight comprised of actual gold. That's just 1 piece of actual gold for every 2,000 parts of other stuff! Gold plating tarnishes easily, it wears off quickly and it just can't stand up to wear, water or heat over time. That’s why as a business we completely shun it as it's a rip-off.
Ultimately, Pandora are a mass production provider who appeal to mass-market tastes and trends rather than offering anything especially unique or exclusive. They produce a significant volume of what we class as generic, production-line jewellery that's designed to meet often vanilla global demand and taste. We believe that this model compromises individual craftsmanship and attention to detail but we can see the appeal of their goods for some people. There are well-publicised concerns from many about consistency in quality. Many critics also have ethical concerns relating to the sourcing and production processes of their jewellery, especially as it's all made in Thailand. It is clear to us as experts that Pandora jewellery is nowhere near the level of high-quality as us and indeed many/most other fine jewellery brands.
At the end of the day, it's true that Pandora absolutely hit a zeitgeist moment when they first appeared with their charms and they were fairly unique back then but we don’t think anyone ever really viewed them as an actual jeweller so that’s a space that they’re seemingly now trying to occupy with lab-made diamonds now the zeitgeist moment has largely passed for charm bracelets. Pandora jewellery is considered by most laypeople to be mid-range in terms of their pricing. We ourselves think that, for what it is, their products are dramatically over-priced, especially in regard to their use of lab-grown diamonds, cubic zirconia and sterling silver (which are all practically worthless) and we've listed 9 compelling examples below. With our trade-pricing, we often give you far better value and definitely far superior craftsmanship and we do so for close to the same price range (and often for way less) for what's real, natural diamond jewellery and solid precious metals. That's clearly a killer argument in terms of value when you realise that you can often get natural, genuine, real-diamonds for more-or-less the same price and frequently less as Pandora's fake, lab-made, artificial diamonds. A big difference between Pandora and us is that we are a lean and agile business primarily focussed on online, repeat business and we do not add huge mark-ups to our goods unlike 99.99% of other jewellers who usually mark-up by between 300% and 1,000% (and often more). For Pandora to make a profit and satisfy their shareholders consider that they have to factor in huge retail markups to cover their various expenses such as their shiny high-street outlets, their huge operating costs, their marketing, their distribution, packaging, staff, sales commissions etc. We decided to mystery shop Pandora ourselves to see how the prices of their lab-grown artificial diamond products stack up against ourselves and our trade prices and we were actually rather shocked. Here's just a few jaw-dropping examples (for legal/copyright reasons we can't show images of their products but it's irrelevant anyway as their images are all just CGI artificial representations of their goods because, unlike us, they typically don’t use real photos of their jewellery on their websites - you're welcome to follow the links to each product on their website to verify our findings): EXAMPLE ONE Take a look at the Pandora Nova 14 Carat White Gold 1.00 Carat Lab-Grown Diamond Ring which is priced at £1,390. Although pretty much irrelevant given it’s merely an artificial diamond anyway, they claim it is VS clarity with a diamond colour of G-J (we won’t even get into how the gemmological characteristics of lab-diamonds are often manipulated but you can learn more about that here).
View this £1,390 item on their website here.
Diametrically, at just £1,275 (that's £115 less than the piece shown above from Pandora), you could buy a 1.00 carat natural, real diamond ring set on 18 carat white gold from us. With the voucher code below the price would actually be just £1,225 which is £165 cheaper! That means you're getting the same carat weight as Pandora but instead of an artificial lab-diamond you're getting an actual real, high-quality, natural diamonds plus it's on18 carat solid white gold instead of 14 carat gold. Check it out yourself on our webstore here.
Now take a look at the “Pandora Era 14 Carat White Gold 1.00 Carat Lab-Grown Diamond Pendant Necklace and Earring Set” which is priced at £2,680. View this £2,680 item on their website here.
We offer a practically identical matching natural, real diamond constellation pendant and earring set which is presented on 9 Carat White Gold for just £2,100 which is a whopping £580 less than Pandora’s like-for-like offering and, with the £50 off discount below, it's even less expensive at £2,050 so the saving is thus a massive £630! Our set has 1.53 carats of genuine, natural diamonds (so 53% more diamonds) and the Pandora item, yet again, merely uses synthetic lab-made diamonds. And we're only 76% of their price! Check it out yourself on our webstore here. EXAMPLE THREE
Now look at Pandora’s “Infinite 14 Carat White Gold 0.25 Carat Lab-Grown Diamond Bangle” which is priced at £1,190.
Now take a look at our own far superior 1.00 Carat real, natural diamond tennis bracelet set on 9 carat white gold which is priced £40 less than Pandora at just £1,150. and available to buy at £1,100 with the discount below so that's a saving of £90. More importantly, we are offering a staggering 4 times the carat weight of diamonds and our diamonds are all actual, real diamonds and not just artificial lab-made diamonds. Most would agree that it's a far nicer and more classic piece anyway! Check it out yourself on our webstore here.
Another one we spotted was the "Pandora Infinite 14 Carat Yellow Gold Lab-Grown Diamond Ring" priced at £2,990 which features a 1.75 carat lab-made diamond of G-J colour and VS clarity. View this £2,990 item on their website here.
For just £2,800 (or £2,750 using the voucher below which is a £240 saving) - you could instead buy something like our 2.20 carat real, natural diamond ring on 18 carat yellow gold. This is G colour and VS1 clarity and is not only 0.45 carats bigger than the Pandora option but it's also set on 18 carat solid gold. These are likely better quality stones too - not just in terms of them being real but in terms of their colour and clarity). Check this piece out yourself on our webstore here. You could also buy a 2.19 carat diamond ring here for only £2,500 (or £2,450 with the voucher below).
Now see the “Pandora Era Bezel Sterling Silver Lab-Grown 0.25 Carat Diamond Pendant Necklace” which is priced by them at £275.
View this £275 item on their website here.
With us you could instead buy a 0.25 carat circle of life natural diamond pendant on 9 carat white gold for £375 so it's only £100 more (and we have some other discounts you can use to make that cheaper again). Bear in mind that with We Love Diamonds you’re getting the same amount of diamonds (just real ones) and instead of sterling silver (which is practically worthless - we can get it for about 30p a gram) you’re getting 9 carat solid white gold and we think it’s a much, much better piece anyway! Check it out yourself on our webstore here.
EXAMPLE SIX Look at the “Pandora Infinite Sterling Silver Lab-Grown 0.15 Carat Diamond Ring” which is priced at £275.
View this £275 item on their website here.
With We Love Diamonds you could (and should) instead buy a beautiful 0.15 carat natural diamond initial rings on 9 carat white or yellow gold for £295 (and we have some other discounts you can use to make that cheaper again). So for just £20 more and probably less, you’re getting solid gold instead of worthless sterling silver plus you're getting 0.15 carats of real diamonds instead of 0.15 carats of artificial lab-grown diamonds. Check it out yourself on our webstore here. Again, especially with the initial personalisation, it’s a far superior ring!
Ok so now have a look at the “Pandora Nova 14 Carat White Gold Lab-Grown 1.00 Carat Diamond Earrings” which they sell for £1,390.
View this £1,390 item on their website here.
With We Love Diamonds you could instead buy our 1.02 carat natural diamond constellation earrings on 9 carat white gold for just £1,550 (and for £1500 with the voucher code below). So for just an extra £110 you’d be getting 1.02 carats of real diamonds instead of 1.00 carats of synthetic lab-grown diamonds. Check it out on our webstore here. Even comparing their artificial CGI created images of their jewellery, it's clear to see from our real pics that ours are vastly superior.
Here are the “Pandora Infinite 14 Carat White Gold Lab-Grown 0.5 Carat Diamond Hoop Earrings” which they price at £950.
View this £950 item on their website here.
Choose We Love Diamonds and for £100 less at £850 (and even less at £800 with the discount code below saving you £150 compared to the Pandora piece) you could instead get a pair of 0.35 carat diamond hoop push button earrings on 18 carat white gold instead of 14 carat gold. While it's true you’d be getting 0.15 carats less of diamonds do remember that our diamonds are real, natural diamonds and not just artificial lab-grown ones with zero intrinsic value (plus ours look way better anyway). Take a look at them on our webstore here.
Finally, let's take a quick look at the “Pandora Elevated Heart Stud Earrings” which are priced at £250 and described as being “hand-finished in 14 carat gold (which may or may not mean it’s actually only gold-plated and not even solid gold – they’re intentionally vague on this). Anyway, it uses cubic zirconia stones which costs just a few pounds.
View this £250 item on their website here.
Why would you buy that basic costume jewellery when you can instead buy a pair of beautiful 0.21 carat natural diamond heart earrings set on 9 carat solid white gold for just £350 (and we have some other discounts you can use to make that cheaper again)? That means for just £100 more and probably less, you’re not just getting 0.21 carats of real natural diamonds instead of practically worthless cubic zirconia stones but you’re also getting solid 9 carat gold. Yet again, we think our heart earrings are way prettier! See them on our webstore here.
The point here is why on earth would anyone buy artificial, lab-made diamonds at Pandora’s prices when you can buy luxury, natural diamond jewellery from We Love Diamonds for around the same price or even for far less in many instances? Don’t forget that we also offer a lot of promos that discount our products even further. As mentioned above, here's a special discount code of WHYBUYPANDORA which will give you an additional £50 Off all orders above £500!
To be fair, we can appreciate why Pandora have sold-out to using lab-diamonds because in recent years they faced continuing sales decline following a number of apparently bad management decisions reported in the press and they were, according to market analysts, experiencing disappointing sales, poor organic growth and declining profits at the time. We guess they had to do something to shift the paradigm. However, we really do think they’ve taken yet another wrong turn with lab-diamonds because, as a huge global leader/brand, we’d have much rather seen them take the honest stand on these worthless trinkets and instead taken a different direction.
When Pandora announced that all diamonds used in their jewellery would be lab-grown instead of mined they made headlines because they (laughably) claimed their decision was entirely based on Pandora wanting to be more "ethical" and "more sustainable". In reality, it was probably more about them wanting to be more profitable and actually obscure the fact that most lab-made, fake diamonds are made in enormous, coal-fired, energy intensive Chinese and Indian mega-factories using huge microwave heat generators that are so far removed from being environmentally friendly as to be an open joke. Reports from experts suggests that it takes twenty times more energy to create a lab-grown diamond than it takes to mine a real one. Again, see our blog here which goes into the maths of all this in great detail. That's shocking! Also, lab-grown diamonds are only sustainable because there is no limit to how many of them can be churned out which is why, month by month, the trade price to buy them continues to dramatically spiral downwards. Given Pandora's financial outlook at the time, we feel this move was more of an act of self-preservation than the noble spin they have tried to put on matters (although it is true that Pandora do appear to be moving or looking to move towards carbon zero status over time which is commendable). For most diamond carat sizes, it is quite literally far, far cheaper for you to pay for a flight to India or China, pay for a hotel, have a little holiday and just go and buy one of the lab-grown diamonds direct from one of the many factories over there than it is to buy one from Pandora! You'd still be buying a fake diamond but hey, at least it will be a cheaper fake!
Whether Pandora jewellery is “great”, “ok” or "bad" is all ultimately subjective and it all depends on your preferences, priorities, expectations and budget. While we despise their overt bait and switch marketing approach to selling lab-diamonds as the Emperor’s New Clothes, they are generally a professional brand who fit a space in the market along with others like Claire’s Accessories. We’d just like to say that before purchasing any jewellery, especially diamond jewellery, we advise you to research the brand, look at their materials and their reviews and ensure that they all align with your own desires and standards for quality, design and authenticity. We do advise that when buying from Pandora you should also closely inspect the jewellery carefully before you buy it to make sure that it is in good condition. Again, to be fair, they do tend to have a good and genuine returns/replacement process and their customer service is by all accounts usually excellent, at least in-store. However, the staff are heavily commissioned salespeople not jewellers so, unlike us and proper jewellers, they know little or nothing about diamond jewellery outside of all the company propaganda they've been fed.
We’d like to be clear that are no sour grapes between us and Pandora - we’re poles apart in most aspects of business and their rush towards the lowest common-denominator actually really helps our own business in the long run so, in some ways, we should probably be thanking them for helping us disrupt this industry more easily. These are merely our own personal opinions too and we’d thus urge you to do your own research. Pandora do what they do best - they sell the dream of “affordable luxury” (we’d actually argue on the ‘luxury’ element) whereas we sell the reality of actual luxury and we do so at trade prices.
The main point of this blog is designed to stress that, in conjunction with our blog here, lab-diamonds are a devious con so don't get brainwashed into buying them from Pandora or any of the other sell-outs who offer them on the basis of their insidious ad-campaigns - unless you’re happy buying the equivalent of a fake Gucci handbag you know is fake, that you cannot insure, that does not have the same characteristics as a real Gucci bag and which you cannot ever sell for anything close to the value of a genuine Gucci handbag. We always say that “Without you, they’re just diamonds”. Somehow we don’t think the phrase “Without you, they’re just artificial lab-diamonds” will ever catch on...