Why more people are choosing diamonds grown in a lab

They say diamonds are forever, and now the experts say they're for everyone, with the advent of lab-grown diamonds.

Jewellers say an increasing number of customers are scrutinising where their gems come from and opting for jewels grown in a more ethical fashion.

Mining operations have long prompted concerns over human rights and conservation.

"[Mining] makes big craters in the earth, there are emissions from the machinery, people's lives are on the line and people getting hurt," says Sera Cruickshank from the Diamond Shop.

In 2018 a report by Human Rights Watch analysed 13 major jewellery brands. It found no companies could make it into the excellent category of responsible sourcing.

Tiffany and Co had the most transparent supply chain, Cartier, Signet, Pandora and Bulgari were moderate and the rest fell short.

This week jewellery brand Pandora became the first big chain to turn its back on mining with the launch of its lab-created collection.

AUT marketing expert Sommer Kapitan says that's thanks to consumers voting with their wallet. 

"Once you understand where something comes from, you can't un-know it, she says.

And she says other players in the jewellery game will follow suit. 

Cruickshank says the scrutiny on supply chains is driven by the financially-conscious Millennial generation. 

"People with a set budget, are getting more for their money by going lab-grown. They're getting a larger diamond and they're getting better specs for their money."

Despite being made in a lab, Cruickshank says the stones are chemically and physically the same. Gemologist Paul Nilsson agrees. 

"Not even the best expert in the world would be able to tell the difference with the naked eye."

Nilsson says gemologists have to resort to instruments which show how stones handle ultraviolet light to tell the difference. 

But while there's no optical difference, Nilsson says the cost of lab-grown diamonds is decreasing as supply increases. He says the price of a lab-grown diamond is currently a quarter of the cost of diamonds which are naturally-sourced.

But while buying a lab-grown diamond is better bang for your buck on initial purchase, Nilsson expects the re-sale value will be a lot less compared with its mined counterpart.

Lab-grown diamonds also mean the search for a flawless diamond is now set in stone. 

"Most if not all lab-grown diamonds are 2A grade, which is only 1-2 percent of the earth mined diamonds, so they're purer diamonds," says Cruikshank. 

It allows future customers to choose the perfect rock for that special day with less damage to the planet and a little less damage to their wallet.