In October of last year, shockwaves went through the fine jewellery and diamond industry after it was announced that one of the biggest US-based lab-grown diamond producers – WD Lab Grown Diamonds – had filed for bankruptcy. Some mined diamond traditionalists were happy about the news, with many already speculating a lab-grown diamond “bubble” – believing lab-grown diamonds to be overinflated in value, and likely to drop rapidly in price. Though it has been several months since this news, many in the lab-grown industry are still confident in their conviction that lab diamonds are here to stay, and luxury brands are backing them up.

To sceptics, it’s easy to say the fall of WD Lab Grown Diamonds is down to a decrease in demand, but statistics are showing the opposite. A study by Edahn Golan showed that 46.6% of loose diamonds sold are lab-grown diamonds. What the bankruptcy likely shows is a change in where the diamonds are grown. There is no doubt that industries with cheap production costs were going to be hot on the heels of lab-grown diamond producers, particularly after many lab-grown diamond brands are boycotting diamonds grown in Russia, along with the import of Russian products being banned in many countries. The Natural Diamond Council reported over 60% of lab-grown diamonds are now produced in China and India. So although the bankruptcy news might suggest production in the West is slowing down, it certainly doesn’t mean the same for consumer demand.

And it’s not just lab-grown diamond brands who are passionate about these ethical stones. Luxury brands who have previously shunned alternatives to sustainable alternatives are betting on the demand for lab-grown diamonds. The luxury industry has traditionally not really cared about how the rest of the world views its consumption of non-ethical materials, such as animal furs and exotic skins, and the same goes for mined diamonds - until now. We’re seeing an increase in household name luxury brands committing to lab-grown diamond use; jewellery brand Cartier’s CEO Cyrille Vigneron said that they might be open to using melee lab-grown diamonds in larger, intricate jewellery pieces where the lab-grown diamonds wouldn’t be the central piece – but that’s all just words.

Watch brand TAG-HEUER showcased lab-grown diamonds in a big way back in 2022, and have continuously used them in selected pieces in their new collections. The initial release was in its Carrera Plasma Diamant D’Avant-garde watch which features pink lab-grown diamonds, creating a feminine look. Similarly, Prada introduced lab-grown diamonds in some of their jewellery pieces – however, the popularity of Prada means they would likely again have to account for a high production level which would be difficult to fulfil with mined diamonds. This is a perfect example of what lab-grown diamonds allow for. 

Mined diamonds are finite, and so luxury brands who mass-produce accessories and jewellery pieces to send to boutiques all across the world don’t have the luxury of waiting around for enough diamonds of a certain size or colour to be mined. In the case of pink diamonds enough mined pink diamonds simply don’t exist, and at $100K per carat, are too expensive for most luxury brands to market towards a wide audience. To give you an idea of how rare some of these stones are, the biggest mine for pink diamonds is the Argyle mine which closed in 2020, and even at its peak, only produced enough pink diamonds to fill half of a champagne glass, according to Only Natural DIamonds.

Though the appearance of lab-grown diamonds in these luxury brands are few and far between, it shows a shift in the opinion towards lab-grown diamonds, and highlights that brands have more opportunity to be creative with their design decisions as the stones can be grown at their convenience.

Who wants lab-grown diamonds and why they want them, is a clear argument. The news about the fate of WD Lab Grown Diamonds says more about how fast the industry is developing, and just how many people are looking for a piece of the pie. What we shouldn’t overlook is these leading producer countries [India and China] also have the least amount of renewable energy, and closing this loop is key to creating a product that consumers demand, that is cost-effective, affordable and environmentally friendly. Find out how jewellery brands are doing this today.

Photo by Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash