While we can fondly look back at the 90s and its penchant for stick-on gems and rings that would leave your fingers with a chic green hue, it’s safe to say we’ve turned a corner when it comes to jewellery.
Just as we’re turning our backs on landfill fashion and damaging beauty products like infamously eco-unfriendly microbeads, the jewellery industry is embracing sustainability.
The most interesting example is the turn towards lab-grown diamonds. It might sound like something you’d see in a Bond film, but it’s actually a smart move that’s transforming the diamond industry.
What’s it all about? Allow us to explain…
What are they?
Simply put, lab-grown diamonds are just that – diamonds that are grown as opposed to being mined.
The first thing to establish is that even though they’re not from the earth as per mined diamonds, they’re physically, chemically and aesthetically the real deal.
In fact, the US Federal Trade Commission has even revisited its jewellery guide to remove ‘of natural origin’ from its official diamond definition.
A lab-grown diamond is made by putting a fragment of diamond, either mined or lab-grown, into a high-temperature, high-pressure growth chamber.
After a few months the stone will begin to crystallise and take the shape of a diamond – something that would take billions of years in the natural world.
Why are they more sustainable?
Lab-grown diamonds are the ethical diamond choice for a number of reasons. Firstly, there’s the human cost of mined diamonds.
Conflict diamonds or ‘blood diamonds’ have plagued the industry. The term describes diamonds mined in areas ruled by force that are sold to fund military action against that government.
This has led to prolonged violence, human rights exploitation and dangerous working conditions.
As well as the human consideration, there’s the environmental impact of diamond mining to consider, which is why many people are turning to lab-grown diamonds.
Deforestation, soil erosion and the loss of animal habitats are all attributed to irresponsible diamond mining, while some mines are now so vast they can actually be seen from space.
It also requires displacing around 250 tonnes of earth for every single carat of diamond and twice the amount of energy (including diesel, gas, oil and petrol) to produce one carat compared to a lab-grown diamond.
In an era where there’s heightened awareness and urgency around environmental responsibility, lab-grown diamonds seem like a no-brainer.
It’s especially true when you consider that they’re 50% - 60% less expensive than mined diamonds.
Who is making them?
Diamonds aren’t just for engagement rings or the upper echelons of society any more.
The husband and wife team have studied the traditional stone-cutting craft, which has taken them everywhere from Italy to the Far East in order to make sure their own diamonds have the perfect finish.
After launching the brand 16 years ago with the mission to democratise fine jewellery, they’re now at the helm of the growing lab diamond movement.
Carat launched with the view to make diamonds inclusive, not exclusive, and to do so with only ethical, high quality alternatives to mined gemstones.
“The rose is a beautiful analogy for our diamonds,” says co-founder Heidi Thompson.
“They are as beautiful as they are perfect, and grown by man, but more importantly they are sustainable.”
Affordable, more sustainable and beautiful – expect to see lab-grown diamonds populating jewellery collections everywhere.
Here are the pieces we’re coveting from the Gentle Diamonds collection.
This white gold pendant with a solitaire diamond can be worn on its own or layered with other necklaces.
The classic diamond stud in a white gold case is the perfect earring for day or night.
A delicate white gold chain with a single diamond that catches the light at every angle.
When it comes to timeless jewellery, you can’t beat the classic diamond ring.
Start your sustainable jewellery collection with Carat London’s Gentle Diamonds range.