In recent years, the jewellery industry in the UK has seen a rise in the popularity of lab-grown gems, including sapphires and emeralds. Although mined gemstones have been valued for their rarity and beauty for centuries, lab-grown alternatives offer a sustainable and fairly-priced alternative.
Lab-grown sapphires and emeralds are created using advanced technology in a controlled environment. These gems are made using the same basic materials as underground gems, but they are grown under conditions that simulate the natural processes that occur deep within the earth.
To create lab-grown sapphires, a small piece of sapphire rock is placed in a chamber with a solution of chemicals and heat. Over time, the chemicals form a crystal structure around the original piece of sapphire, resulting in a larger, identical gemstone.
Creating lab-grown emeralds follows a slightly different process. Instead of using a piece of emerald rock, a small amount of raw materials, such as beryl, chromium, and vanadium, are placed in a chamber with a solution of chemicals and heat.
Over time, the chemicals form into a crystal structure around the raw materials, producing a larger, identical emerald.
The result of these processes is a lab-grown sapphire or emerald without the need for any mining. The stones have less inclusions, and therefore, usually exhibit greater sparkle as they are much clearer.
One of the significant advantages of lab-grown sapphires and emeralds is that they are fairly priced relative to the inflated pricing of mined stones.
Mined sapphires and emeralds can be extremely expensive, making them unaffordable for many consumers. Lab-grown gems, on the other hand, can be produced in large quantities and sold at a fraction of the cost of natural gems.
In addition to being reasonably priced, lab-grown gems are also more sustainable. Mining for gems can have a devastating impact on the environment, and the working conditions for miners can be hazardous. The jewellery industry has undergone a significant shift in recent years, with more and more customers opting for lab-grown diamonds and other gemstones. In this blog, we will explore the reasons behind this trend and provide some statistics to support the growing popularity of lab-grown jewellery.
What is lab-grown jewellery?
Lab-grown jewellery, also known as cultured jewellery, refers to gems and diamonds that are created in a laboratory environment instead of being mined from the earth. These gems are created using advanced technologies that simulate the natural processes that occur over millions of years deep within the earth's crust.
Why are more customers choosing lab-grown jewellery?
Several reasons explain the growing popularity of lab-grown jewellery. Here are some of the most significant factors!
Ethical and Environmental Concerns
The mining of diamonds and other gems has long been associated with human rights violations, environmental destruction, and even armed conflict. In contrast, lab-grown diamonds and gems are created in a controlled environment with significantly fewer environmental impacts and zero ethical concerns. As more and more consumers become aware of the negative impacts of mining, they are opting for lab-grown options as a more sustainable and ethical choice.
Lab-grown diamonds and other gems are typically priced more fairly than their mined counterparts. This is because the production process is more efficient and less expensive than mining, which involves costly equipment and labour-intensive processes. As a result, lab-grown jewellery offers consumers a realistically priced option for high-quality, beautiful gems, without having to compromise a single bit on quality or authenticity!
Consistency and Quality
Because lab-grown gems are created in a controlled environment, their quality and consistency are often higher than that of mined gems. Lab-grown diamonds are particularly prized for their uniformity, as they are less likely to have the inclusions and other imperfections that are common in mined diamonds. As a result, lab-grown jewellery offers consumers a more reliable and consistent option for high-quality, beautiful gems.
Statistics on the Growth of Lab-Grown Jewellery
Now that we have explored some of the reasons behind the growing popularity of lab-grown jewellery, let us take a closer look at some of the statistics that support this trend...
According to a report by Mordor Intelligence, the global lab-grown diamond market size was valued at £16.2 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach £27.6 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 9.4% during the forecast period.
The sales of lab-grown diamonds have grown significantly in recent years. According to a report by Bain & Company, the sales of lab-grown diamonds grew by 15% to 20% in 2019, while the sales of mined diamonds fell by 1% to 2%.
According to a survey by the Natural Diamond Council, 70% of millennials said they would consider a lab-grown diamond for an engagement ring, and 41% of those surveyed said they would prefer a lab-grown diamond over a mined diamond. Additionally, a report by De Beers (perhaps the biggest name in mined diamonds jewellery!) found that 66% of consumers would consider buying a lab-grown diamond.
Where does that leave us today… and where are we headed?
The emergence of lab-grown stones such as diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, black onyx and more has transformed the jewellery industry, providing consumers with an alternative to mined stones. These lab-grown gemstones are not only sustainable and eco-friendly, but they are also considerably less expensive than their mined counterparts. With technological advancements and production costs decreasing, it is probable that lab-grown stones will become even more accessible and favoured in the future – and for the hope of the planet, possibly even totally supplant mined gemstones in jewellery!