New Zealand jewellers say lab-grown diamonds soaring in popularity

New Zealand jewellers say more customers are seeking out diamonds that have been grown in a laboratory, instead of traditional diamonds found in the earth.

The soaring popularity of lab-grown options is impacting the price of natural diamonds, which dropped by over 20 percent last year.

Auckland couple Hannah Dick and Brooklyn Heath recently became engaged and opted for a lab-grown stone.

"Doing my own research, I had thought it would be quite a small one for what we could afford, or what I thought he would spend on an engagement ring," Dick said.

She was surprised when the ring she was presented with had an extra band of diamonds.

"When he opened the box and proposed with it I was like, 'Oh, my goodness!'"

Heath said the more wallet-friendly price for a lab-grown diamond meant he could afford a bigger stone.

He said he was shown the natural diamond equivalent and couldn't tell the difference between the two rings.

"Honestly, they looked identical. I literally couldn't tell," he said. "I feel it's definitely the way to go."

Custom engagement and fine jewellery designers Four Words said they've noticed an increase in the awareness and popularity of lab-grown diamonds among their customers.

Co-owner and marketing director Shivana Pemberton said couples are actively choosing what is a more sustainable and price-friendly option.

"A two-carat solitaire diamond engagement ring, if you were wanting to go natural, you are probably looking at $24,000 to $26,000. For the lab-grown diamond equivalent, you would be more looking at around $8000," she said.

"Most of our competitors now offer lab-grown diamonds, even some competitors that we didn't think ever would."

The Diamond Shop offers both options, but said lab-grown diamonds account for almost 90 percent of their sales.

Owner and designer Sera Cruickshank said lab-grown alternatives have completely changed the industry.

"It's having a really big impact on natural diamonds."

She said there has been a significant drop in the price of both types, but mined stones are particularly being impacted by the popularity of lab-grown options.

"In 2023 alone they took an absolute dive of just over 20 percent, it's almost unheard of," she said.

"Lab-grown diamonds really have changed the industry and made it really difficult for natural diamonds to compete."