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THE GREAT DEBATE: NATURAL DIAMONDS VS. LAB-MADE

THE GREAT DEBATE: NATURAL DIAMONDS VS. LAB-MADE

It may strike you as an overused cliche, but there is truth in the timeless sentiment that “diamonds are forever.”  Or at least, they should be. In an age of increasing mechanical reproduction, we find ourselves constantly fielding questions about the merits of natural diamonds vs. those that are lab-made. Here at Automic Gold we also see a lot of misinformation on this topic. As your trusted jeweler, I want to provide some answers about the contentious natural diamond vs. lab-made debate. 

 

PRICING

I will employ an easy to understand metaphor to illustrate my point on the topic of pricing. Say someone likes the look of a designer leather bag, but the price is well above their budget. They see a knock-off version of the bag, which looks pretty similar to the real thing and made out of the same quality leather - success! They end up purchasing the knock-off for a fraction of the price of the original. Natural diamonds are the designer bag and lab-made are the knock-offs; but in today’s market the price of lab-made diamonds are not significantly lower than the price of the real thing! This is why I do not market lab-made diamonds or have them as part of any of our collections; we would just be passing off the price of an inferior, inflated, and highly marked-up product on to you, which is not our preference. We will work with lab-made diamonds in the event that is really what the client wants, but we would not recommend them due to investment re-sale concerns. 

 

INVESTMENT

While the value of diamonds may be inflated (you can thank years of successful marketing by De Beers) but so is the US dollar (and still one of the best options to invest in). I believe, that it is only natural diamonds that will truly hold their value. Natural diamonds have been formed within the Earth itself, billions of years ago. The lab-made diamonds that are manufactured - yes, they are the same material but never will be the same - even a quick glance under a microscope will reveal the immediate difference to both the amateur and professional eye. Natural diamonds will retain their value, and gold, which a majority of diamonds will be set in, also stably increases in value and both can be easily resold as a jewelry piece or as a materials to be re-used again and again. Overall, your jewelry will hold its value - if you have a natural diamond. Refugees (like myself) often rely on the sustained value of heirlooms when immigrating to a new country, especially in the event that their native currency is difficult to convert or depart with.


SUPPLY AND DEMAND

Much to the chagrin of jewelry marketing campaigns everywhere, natural diamonds are not particularly rare. There may not be infinite supply of them, but there are so many to be reused (which we usually do!) or to be mined safely. Yes, mined safely, with love, from Russia. In all seriousness, most new diamonds on the market today are mined relatively sustainably in Russia. The troublesome imagery we have in our minds, courtesy of Leonardo DiCaprio (who is big investor in lab diamonds btw 👀) in Blood Diamond, is still relevant today, but it’s your phone and your Tesla that’s to blame - not your diamond ring (more on that in a second). That said, as more and more lab-made diamonds flood the market, their value will decrease, but the value of natural diamonds will increase as their demand grows. Basic supply and demand. Once again, the natural diamond is your best bet for holding and appreciating value.


ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

Your phone, your laptop, the electric car you’d like to buy - anything with a modern, powerful battery has components such as cobalt and lithium. These, unlike diamonds, are mined aggressively throughout the world often using child labor, under unsafe and unregulated working conditions. Plus, if you want to talk about energy expenditure, lab-made gems of any kind take an incredible amount of energy to manufacture - much more energy then to mine one! It would appear that this is a matter of a few inconvenient truths and one extremely convenient lie in the marketing of lab-made diamonds. Many companies and brands are getting in on the lab-made diamond trade because the revenue is immense - they produce lab-made diamonds for pennies and then sell to the consumer at a tremendous mark-up. And the marketing is simplistic in mirroring an antiquated concept of diamond mining, while promoting a substandard product and claiming environmental efficacy. Don’t be fooled - it's not for saving the planet, it's for making insane amounts of money.


Plus, with so many diamonds already out there ready to be reused, reset, repolished, and recycled, the most environmentally conscious choice you can make is that of an heirloom or previously loved natural diamond  - something the Automic Gold team can help you source, redesign, and create!


DECISIONS, DECISIONS

Interested  in diamond jewelry? Looking for an engagement ring? My advice is this - do not fear. I can guarantee that there are many options within your ideal price point.

  • If you are looking for something very durable, stick with natural diamonds, sapphires, rubies, or emeralds.
  • For a traditional but affordable look, I would suggest moissanite which has amazing sparkle, ranks high in terms of hardness, and is significantly less expensive than a diamond. You can easily get a larger moissanite for a fraction of what you would spend on a comparatively sized natural diamond. 
  • If you’re looking for an incredibly unique stone, I would recommend taking a look at salt and pepper diamonds or champagne diamonds which are one of a kind, cost-conscious options with beautiful sparkle and shine - we have so many to explore!

Choosing jewelry should be a fun and exciting experience. Get creative and choose exactly what you love most. Be sure to treat it as an investment - invest in natural diamonds, not lab-made, so that whatever you choose will hold its value for years to come.

AL Sandimirova (they/them)

Founder and Designer of Automic Gold

Radically wearable fine jewelry, for everyone.

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