Diamond is perhaps the most desirable of all of the gemstones with a long and ancient history. And in 1977, perhaps one of the most influential and powerful advertising campaigns ever created, forever linked diamonds with love and endurance and thus the go to choice for engagement rings.
However, over the last 25 years diamonds have gained a somewhat tarnished reputation because of the use of some diamonds to fund wars and insurgencies and human rights abuses. It also isn’t helped that the diamond industry is notoriously lacking in transparency and at one time was ruled by an iron-clad near monopoly.
Needless to say, the diamond industry has been forced to change in the last few decades and they are trying to address these issues. The diamond cartel as was, no longer controls the price of diamonds through sheer scale of its holdings. Socio-political and eco environmental issues have forced them to adopt more progressive practices. For instance, The Kimberley process tracks diamonds from mine to cutting and polishing and ensures diamonds are not coming from conflict zones. And for example, countries such as Botswana have used the diamond industry to modernise their country and the status of their citizens. In fact they have been so successful that Botswana is becoming a middle income country ad reputed for its ethical mining practices.
However, there are still some concerns about the environmental impact of diamonds from the huge scale diamond mines that are visible from space, and the massive energy requirements in mining operations. As well as the potential for “conflict” diamonds to sneak into the supply chain after the Kimberley Process stops tracking them. Thus alternatives to mined diamonds have become increasingly popular.
Lab created diamonds have been gaining popularity as the technology to make them has improved and more labs have entered the market. Lab created diamonds are devoid of any association with conflict, and direct damage to the physical environment. They are more ethically sound as people are not harmed or taken advantage of or enslaved to mine. However, they do require a lot of energy to create, so in that respect they do have a carbon footprint, but that footprint is estimated to be about half that of a mined diamond. Additionally lab diamonds are between 30-50% less expensive than mined diamonds.
A typical question I’ve heard is, but are they real diamonds and the answer is a resounding yes. They identical to mined diamonds in every respect except they are not created in the earth but rather in a lab. As with mined diamond they are 10 on the Mohs scale of hardness, ad will wear exactly as a mined diamond. Will they hold their value as well as a mined diamond. Truthfully, probably not. Mined diamonds are a finite supply – unless of course we find the diamond asteroids or meteors that are believed to exist! So they will tend to hold value better over time. Mind you, most diamonds in general are a poor investment if you expect immediate high returns. A diamonds value is in the sentiment it holds to you.
Another alternative is the Moissanite. Moissanites are a diamond simulant. They may look similar to diamonds, but they are made from silicon carbide and not carbon as in diamonds. The gemstone was first identified by French chemist Henri Moissan in 1893 in meteorite sites. It was literally a gemstone from out of this world. However, naturally occuring moissanite is quite small and unsuitable for cutting and using in jewellery, not to mention its rarity, so all commercially available moissanite is lab created. Thus it offers the same assurances as lab created diamonds in terms of eco and environmental credentials. Plus it is consideraby less expensive than mined or lab created diamond. Moissanite is slightly less hard than diamond at 9.2-9.5 on the Mohs scale but it will wear incredibly well.
So if you are concerned with ethical or environmental issues associated with your diamond, Lab diamonds and moissanites offer a very good alternative. While they will not be as commercially valuable as mined diamond, they will give peace of mind that a diamond, or a diamond simulant can be an eco conscious, ethical girls best friend.
Thanks for reading, Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Oh yes, and if you were wondering which is which in the photo, from left to right. Moissanite, Mined Diamond, Lab Created Diamond!