“To the naked eye, they are identical,” said Susan Jacques, the president and chief executive of the Gemological Institute of America. Atelier Swarovski is one of the high-end designers now using lab-grown diamonds in its creations.
To socially and environmentally conscious Millennial buyers, lab-grown diamonds may be ever better than natural diamonds, because they offer the same durability, color, and quality, without the issues involving warfare and slavery that are embedded in “conflict diamonds” mined in places like Africa.
After Leonardo DiCaprio filmed Blood Diamond and learned about the horrific human rights abuses and environmental destruction associated with the diamond industry, he invested in the Diamond Foundry, a lab that creates diamonds that heats carbon to temperatures as high as the outer layer of the sun.
A 2017 survey on the wedding website The Knot found that 25 percent of brides and grooms would purchase a man-made diamond as the center stone in an engagement ring. In the same survey conducted a year ago, only 16 percent said they were cool with a man-made stone.
Even more concerning to the diamond industry, Millennials are spending less money on diamonds, opting for alternative stones, or going without an engagement ring at all. “Millennials gravitate toward spending money on experiences, and not on things,” said Sarah Berger of TheCashlorette, who notes that this generation is less interested in expensive material possessions.
“Older millennials could still be saddled with student loan debt, and many are trying to save for a down payment on a house.”
Another option for buyers who are concerned about the shady side of the diamond industry would be to look into those secondhand, bargain-priced diamonds — like Prince Harry did. The engagement ring he presented to fiancé Meghan Markle included stones worn by another bride: Princess Diana.