In 1948, De Beers changed the world’s relationship with diamonds. Diamonds became the symbol of love - or, perhaps more accurately - the status symbol for both the giver and receiver. The bigger the diamond, the stronger the love. We know better now! But there is another shift in the works: the relationship between millennials and diamonds.
Today’s consumers want ethically-sourced, eco-friendly, conscientious products that are as beautiful and valuable as mined stones. And manufacturers of synthetic diamonds promise to deliver all of this - along with plenty of sparkle and shine. The problem is that it’s a lie.
A Pervasive “Misrepresentation”
“Lie” is a bold word, to be sure. Still, it’s not an exaggeration. There is a pervasive myth surrounding synthetic diamonds. As Sahag Arslanian, head of Arslanian Group MD, says, "[Laboratory-grown diamond companies] deceive the consumer, because a synthetic diamond is not worth much at retail value. Millennials are being fed lies, because the gap between reality and marketing is huge.”
Why do millennials tend to gravitate toward synthetics? Because growers know that this generation, more so than others, prioritizes eco-friendly and ethical practices. Millennials are led to believe that these diamonds have equivalent value to real stones but “without the human or environmental impact.”
Now, this is not to say that synthetic diamonds are “bad.” Not at all. Just like cubic zirconia, glass or lab-grown stones that utilize techniques like flux growth, flame fusion or hydrothermal growth are not bad. In fact, synthetics can be quite lovely, especially when integrated into custom jewelry design.
But synthetics are not diamonds. Synthetics do not carry the same value initially (though their cost can equal that of real stones in some pieces), nor do synthetics retain value over the long term.
What Are You Really Buying?
Synthetic diamonds are virtually indistinguishable from mined stones; they are grown under the same conditions but instead of millennia, this man-controlled process takes just weeks. At the same time, there are little to no regulations concerning these products.
When you purchase a mined diamond, it comes with a GIA grading report. This gives you the evidence you need that you are getting the quality for which you are paying. There is no such reassurance associated with manufactured diamonds.
A Diamond Lining?
There is always a flip side to the coin. As Des Kilalea says, “There is a fantastic silver lining in synthetics.” He explains that it should make miners look at the quality they’re delivering. “The miners need to return the value to diamonds by only recovering higher-quality stones.” This can only benefit consumers searching for the perfect gift, keepsake or treasure.
When it comes to millennials and diamonds, the bottom line is that it’s important for millennials to see beyond the hype and the hope that lab-grown stones are equivalent in both beauty and value to mined stones. This is simply not true.