What you need to know about lab-grown diamond engagement and wedding rings, according to the experts at 12FIFTEEN.
Wedding and engagement rings are the purchase of a lifetime. They set the tone for a better future, after all. They are the material representation of complicated human emotions. So how do you make sure you get it right?
The diamond market is bursting with options these days. And as consumers become more conscientious, they’re bringing that ethos into their engagement and wedding ring purchases, too.
Since 2004, 12FIFTEEN has been researching and developing ethical jewelry made in a lab where there’s no risk of forced labor or human trafficking, and there’s a smaller carbon footprint on the planet.
“Our long experience in this revolutionary and disruptive new industry gives us technological and supply chain competitive advantages,” Brittany Bozmoski Kohnke, Chief Marketing Officer of Forever Companies, 12FIFTEEN’s parent company, tells Ethos via email.
“The development of the lab-grown diamond market will profoundly change the dynamics of the $60 billion global diamond market, and Forever Companies is well-positioned to be a leader in the field.”
Mined vs. lab-grown
According to Bozmoski, the diamonds grown by 12FIFTEEN are identical in every way to mined earth diamonds, but, she says, “without the environmental, ethical and corporate diamond cartel concerns.”
The issues with mined diamonds are complex, despite the fail-safes in place like the Kimberley Process and the Responsible Jewelry Council. Chief among the concerns is that jewelers can’t trace the origin by studying the diamonds themselves.
“Mined diamonds from all parts of the world appear identical in composition, and so experts cannot study a diamond and know where it came from,” says Bozmoski. “The industry relies heavily upon mechanisms such as blockchains and responsible sourcing protocols to document a diamond’s true origin. The problem with this approach is that there’s ample opportunity and motivation for dishonest people to incorrectly state the origin of a diamond.”
She says there have been “multiple” instances of “unscrupulous people and organizations misstating diamond origins, and so it’s impossible for the end consumer to fully trust the process.”
This impacts more than just the integrity of the jeweler or consumer, but the communities where the diamonds come from. This makes lab diamonds a much more approachable purchase for the ethical consumer.
“One of the best advantages to buying a lab-grown diamond is that to the naked eye, it looks exactly the same as a mined diamond,” Bozmoski says.
Just like earth-mined diamonds, lab-created diamonds are made of carbon and are ranked according to the 4Cs of diamonds: cut, color, clarity, and carat. They’re typically made through one of two processes: Chemical Vapor Deposition or High Pressure, High-Temperature manufacturing process. According to 12FIFTEEN, both processes create diamonds that are optimally, chemically, and physically identical to mined diamonds. After a diamond is grown in the lab setting, it’s then cut and polished into its final gem quality just like mined diamonds.
“Diamond-detectors and traditional observations cannot identify between the two given they are identical both chemically and optically,” Bozmoski says.
“The only real difference is that lab-grown diamonds have a microscopic inscription on them. However, without highly specialized equipment designed to read this inscription, the two types of diamonds cannot be differentiated from one another. This means that your friends, family, and acquaintances won’t know the difference. You can still get that engagement ring you’ve been dreaming of, with all the sparkle and shine that diamonds are known for, without the guilt of a mined diamond,” she says.
You may have heard of cubic zirconia—it’s been the cheap diamond knock-off for decades. “The sparkle factor of cubic zirconia is similar to moissanite as it also emits a disco type effect when it catches the light,” Bozmoski says, but cautions that it’s not the best choice for everyday wear “due to its low durability and likeliness to discolor over time.” But it is the most budget-friendly.
When it comes to budget-friendly options for real diamonds, lab-grown are the better bang for your buck, even when compared to vintage or secondhand mined diamonds. Most lab diamonds will run 40 percent to 70 percent less than mined diamonds for the same carat size.
“Lab diamonds are definitely here to stay,” Bozmoski says.
We’re seeing the lab diamond market grow by double digits each year, and by 2030, estimates for the lab diamond market reach $50 billion.”
But ethics, price, and quality aside, how does one even know what to look for in a diamond? Bozmoski says the three most important factors are knowing the 4Cs (cut, color, clarity, and carat), understanding the quality factor as well as shapes and type of cuts, and perhaps most importantly, knowing your partner’s style.
And if lab-grown diamonds are identical to mined diamonds in every way, should you even tell your partner? That’s, of course, a personal decision, but Bozmoski says transparency is part of the brand’s core, and it should be discussed openly with partners, too. But, more than that, she says there’s nothing to hide.
“We also think wearing a lab diamond is something to be proud of and believe it should be mutually felt between you and your partner,” she says.
“Lab-grown diamonds may mean you can get a better ring with the same budget. With lab-grown diamonds being significantly less expensive and ethically grown, they are a great alternative to traditional diamonds,” Bozmoski says. “However, in the end, the decision comes down to which type of diamond aligns with you and your partner’s values and what you can afford.”
Compared to mined diamonds, 12FIFTEEN’s customers spend about 20 to 50 percent less for the brand’s lab diamond jewelry of the same or better quality.
“This savings frees up consumers to spend money on related life experiences they greatly desire, such as destination weddings and special trips and occasions to give their loved ones beautiful lab diamond jewelry gifts,” Bozmoski says.
“In today’s world where socially conscious consumers want their purchases to have a positive impact on society, lab jewelry is the perfect complement.”
For more information, visit 12FIFTEEN’s website.