Would you buy a lab-grown diamond for a quarter of the price of a genuine diamond? It is comparable in appearance, chemically, and is manufactured more sustainably than a mined diamond. It is, however, less common.
The ecological and economic attraction of lab-grown diamonds (LGDs) has drawn brilliant investments from top jewellery manufacturers all around the world over the years. LVMH (Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton), the parent firm of luxury brands like as Bulgari, Tiffany & Co, and Hublot, has invested US$ 90 million in Lusix, an Israeli LGD maker that utilises exclusively solar energy in its diamond labs.
Interestingly, De Beers Group, the world's largest mined diamond company, was one of the first major companies to introduce a complete jewellery line using LGDs named Lightbox in 2018 with a $100 million investment. Furthermore, De Beers has established its own diamond synthesis facility in Portland, capable of producing 200,000 stones each year. One carat of LGD costs $800 at Lightbox – almost 60-80% less than a natural-mined diamond of the same weight!
LGDs are less expensive and more environmentally friendly than real diamonds. According to a survey published by the Diamond Producers Association and S&P Global, the greenhouse gas footprint of one carat of polished natural diamond is 160kg. According to Pandora, a major worldwide jewellery company that recently revealed it no longer utilises mined diamonds, an LGD has a carbon footprint of just 8.17 kg CO2e per carat when grown and polished.
Mined diamonds grow naturally beneath the earth's surface over many years, but LGDs may be manufactured in a lab in a matter of weeks using one of two processes: High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT) or Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD). "LGDs and genuine diamonds are both made of pure carbon in the same crystalline structure," Shashikant adds. An expert can see the difference with a high-tech gadget, but not with the naked eye."
Titan business (Tanishq & Caratlane.com) invested $20 million in Clean Origin, an American retailer of LGDs and LGD jewellery, earlier this year through its wholly-owned subsidiary TCL North America, Inc. 'Do lab-grown diamonds exist? The answer is unequivocally yes!' says Clean Origin's website.
LGDs are now regarded as a unique segment of the jewellery industry, rather than a direct competitor to mined-natural diamonds. "They are a terrific beginning point for consumers who want to purchase diamond jewellery," says Smit Patel, Convener, Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council's Lab-Grown Diamond Panel (GJEPC). "According to estimations, the natural diamond pipeline is worth roughly $80 billion in terms of retail diamond jewellery," he says. However, according to GJEPC figures, the LGD market share appears to be continuously increasing and is predicted to account for 10% (estimated at 19.2 million carats) of the total global diamond market by 2030.
"Lab-grown synthetic diamonds are absolutely perfect!" Inherent diamonds, on the other hand, will contain imperfections that are visible to the human eye; it is this natural differentiation that aids in their identification. "This is also why natural diamonds are believed to have a higher intrinsic value and continue to be in higher demand," says Ramesh Kalyanaraman, Executive Director of Kalyan Jewellers, adding that while both categories may "coexist separately," Kalyan concentrates on "all-natural, certified diamonds."
Currently, "very few Indian jewellers are retailing lab-grown diamonds," according to Smit, who adds that the majority of cut and polished LGDs are sent to the United States. India, on the other hand, is increasing its manufacturing and exports of LGDs.
According to Shashikant Dalichand Shah of LGDJPC, "India manufactures 30 lakh rough LGDs every year." In 2021-22, India exported USD 1.3 billion in CVD lab produced diamonds. "There is no difficulty with LGD acceptance, but there isn't enough knowledge," says Parag Agarwal, CEO of Fiona Diamonds, which distributes LGDs directly to clients online in India. "We appeal largely to professionals, self-purchasing ladies who don't see jewellery as an investment," he says.