Jewellery tastes may be ever changing, but there is a consistent want and need from the jewellery industry that has stood the test of time - Diamonds. The colourless crystal is beautiful, rare and has the highest hardness level of any natural material, making it the ideal gemstone to be used in jewellery.
Diamonds are increasingly popular in pop culture and the fashion industry. The jewellery industry knows of the demand of diamonds, and many industry giants have taken to manufacturing the gems, creating lab-grown or synthetic diamonds to meet demands. Despite diamonds’ everlasting popularity, wholesales for lab-grown and natural diamonds are beginning to fall, with issues in diamond production and global supplies.
The demand of lab-grown diamonds
Jewellery industry giants have seen a prominent increase and demand for lab-grown diamonds, however this creates problems in and of itself. There has been a significant fall of 60% of wholesale prices for lab-grown diamonds. According to Professional Jeweller, the improved technology that makes synthetic jewels will increase the quality and volume of lab-grown diamonds. Popular diamond company De Beers began selling lab-grown diamonds in September 2018, with the aim to make diamond jewellery more affordable. However, De Beers have been questioned and accused by lab-grown diamond producers about the low cost of the jewels. The mass production of diamonds is not viewed as being sustainable and there is questioning about whether the quality is poor, due to the low price tag.
Due to cost, manufactured and synthetic gems are becoming increasingly popular, with rubies, emeralds and sapphires also being lab-grown alongside diamonds. This mass-production creates jewellery that is no longer unique or different, and customers receive jewels that are the same as everyone around them who buy from the same shops. Mass-production versus natural is a supposedly easy choice of quality over quantity. But what if the natural diamond market is also suffering?
The diamond trade global supply crisis
Mir Diamond mine in Russia
The wealthy population of the world is growing and so the demand of diamonds are set to rise, with cost not being an issue. A significant amount of the public are looking towards natural diamonds to invest and indulge in, however the diamond trade is dealing with its own issues. The world’s diamond mines are depleting and within twenty-five years, the majority of the diamond mines operating today will reportedly cease to exist, according to the Fancy Colour Research Foundation. The organisation also predicts that the last diamond will be uncovered in the next sixty years and that no ‘mega-mines’ are likely to be found in the near future.
The decline of the diamond trade leads to numerous complications. Putting aside that diamonds are likely to disappear, many jobs will also be in jeopardy. The diamond industry is set to change beyond recognition if these findings are accurate. Manufacturing will be at an all time high and second-hand or synthetic jewels will be the only way to get diamonds.
Manufactured diamonds are 30% less money than naturally-sourced diamonds and with the advancements in technology, the quality of lab-grown diamonds is increasing. Despite these facts, naturally sourced diamonds will always be in high-demand due to their unique beauty. In recent years, many customers are looking for clothing and jewellery which is made and found ethically. The diamond trade has employed the Kimberley Process to assure strict conditions of trading diamonds and quality control.
The Kimberley Process
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme was established in 2003 and is the process set in place to ensure that ‘conflict-free’ diamonds do not enter the mainstream diamond trade, with extensive requirements placed on to participants who want to buy and ship diamonds. The scheme is set up to ensure that diamond purchases do not finance violence involved in diamond mining.
For a country to become a participant, they must ensure that any diamond originating from the country does not finance a rebel group, that every diamond is accompanied by a Kimberley Process certificate and that no diamond is bought from or shipped to a non-member of the scheme. Although the scheme has been criticised, the Kimberley Process is in place to certify quality.
Natural vs Lab-grown
Now, it really is a question of personal choice. Do we look towards the lab-grown diamonds - mass-produced low cost jewels that can be found everywhere, losing uniqueness and quality? Or do we look towards natural diamonds - gems that are pricier, better quality, but are involved in a trade that may disappear in the future?
The jewellery industry is always changing but diamonds are forever. Discover the natural beauty of diamond jewellery from independent handcrafted designers on JewelStreet. Many of our designers support the Kimberley Process and all create unique jewellery that you won’t find anywhere else.
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