Jewelry giant Pandora announced it will move away from mined diamonds and instead use sustainably made, lab-grown diamonds. Thanks to millennial shopping trends of caring about the environment and not believing it’s necessary to sink two months’ salary into a diamond ring, the time is right.
“Diamonds are not only forever, but for everyone,” said Pandora Chief Executive Alexander Lacik, as reported by Reuters. Many more people will be able to afford the new collection, keeping their finances intact while skipping the guilty conscience.
To grow diamonds in its labs, the Danish company will heat a hydrocarbon gas mixture to 1,427° Fahrenheit (800° Celsius). Carbon atoms will adhere to small seed diamonds and, layer by layer, grow into beautiful, brilliant crystals. As technology has improved, the price has fallen so that now lab-grown diamonds can be as low as one-tenth the cost to produce as mined diamonds.
Then there’s the environmental costs. Cubic zirconia puts less than 0.01% the wear and tear on the planet as compared to mined diamonds, according to a study by Trucost, an environmental consultancy. Per carat, cubic zirconia requires 5,000 times less CO2 and 3,000 times less water than mined diamonds. Add in the human rights toll of mined diamonds — forced labor, physical and sexual abuse, unsanitary housing — and, for many consumers, the price is too high.
Pandora manufactured 85 million pieces of jewelry last year. It sold 50,000 diamonds, which, until now, the company has bought from KGK Diamonds. Pandora plans to sell the mined diamonds already in its store showcases, then complete the move to lab-grown stones created in North America and Europe.
The new Pandora Brilliance collection featuring lab-created diamonds debuts in the U.K. this year. The sparkly stones are chemically identical to their mined counterparts, look just as good and have CarbonNeutral® product certification. All greenhouse gas emissions associated with the stones are calculated and then offset by donations to a carbon finance project. So far, the lab stones have been powered by 60% renewable energy. Pandora is aiming for 100% by next year, when it plans to launch its new collection of lab-grown diamonds globally.
Image via Pandora