Will Lab Grown Diamonds Lose Value?
A recent Bloomberg article might say it best:
“The last resort of diamond merchants is to say that synthetic diamonds have lower resale value than natural ones. That is a weak threat to mass-market customers, who don't buy jewelry with a focus on resale value. They buy them for the pleasure they get from them. The same way they buy, say, avocados. And nobody thinks about selling back an avocado.” —Peter Coy
Good point, Peter.
If that's not enough to convince you, let us propose a series of questions that both point out a few of the arguments and some of the facts surrounding the value of lab grown diamonds:
Is an Engagement Ring an investment? Will you be looking to sell it soon?
In 99.9 percent of cases, the answer to this is a resounding 'NO!' If you're purchasing a diamond as a symbol of your adoration and commitment, to wear over a lifetime, its much more likely you'll be planning on leaving it to your future children and much less likely that you'll be looking to 'get your money out of it'. This is simply not why people purchase engagement rings (or diamond jewelry for that matter). Furthermore, traditional earth-mined diamonds aren't really much of an investment, either, to be entirely honest.
If you've ever had the unfortunate need to try to sell a diamond, you probably already know it's a hard thing to do, and many times you find yourself at a pawn shop deliberating whether you really want to sell it or not. Diamonds are a bit like cars -- once you 'drive it off the lot', you lose value. One must find the absolute perfect buyer to get true value -- and they must be ok with a little 'bad juju' that comes with 'used' diamonds.
Who really owns the diamond market? Are they endorsing Lab Growns?
It may not come as a surprise that DeBeers owns the largest chunk of the diamond market -- it's a brand name you've likely heard before (hint: They are the ones who coined the phrase 'Diamonds are Forever'). If you haven't, and you're up for a good laugh alongside an interesting recount of diamond and DeBeers history -- we encourage you to check out this 'drunk [jewelry] history' spinoff from fellow jewelry gallery Adornment + Theory . A few years back, to protect their investment and place in the market, DeBeers spent an insane amount of money marketing their earth-mined diamonds as 'natural' -- creating campaigns that celebrate mined diamonds and discouraged lab growns. Fast forward a couple of years, and now they've given up the effort and have fully embraced the lab grown industry alongside a growing demand within industry professionals and businesses. Seeing the writing on the wall, DeBeers, introduced its own lab-grown line, Lightbox Jewelry, in May 2018. Also check out this Observer article detailing how they're committed to producing 400,000 lab grown diamonds per year.
If that doesn't show you the future of the lab grown market is here to stay, I'm not sure what else will.
Is there a demand for them?
A recent Forbes article ( by Pamela Danziger entitled 'While Mined Diamond Sales Decline, The Future of Lag Grown Diamonds Is Much More Than Jewelry) outlines the state of the diamond industry in much more detail than we can do here, but some of the noteworthy highlights are:
"The Bain report identifies the three greatest disruptors in the mined-diamond market: Online sales, lab-grown diamonds, and consumers’ growing demand for environmental and social responsibility."
"...the mined diamond industry is caught literally between a rock and a hard place. Consumers today demand environmental and social responsibility from the industry, most especially the Millennials and GenZ consumers..."
"Despite the Diamond Producers Association’s efforts to communicate its responsible environmental approach and positive social impacts, the consumers aren’t necessarily buying it. A recent Netflix Explained episode digs under the surface to reveal the reputed dirty tricks DeBeers and its cohorts have played historically to keep the diamond industry profitable at great human and environmental costs."
"The Bain report pegs the lab-grown diamond market’s growth between 15% to 20% in 2019 and given that traditional jewelers have only recently begun to sell lab-growns, their market share in the jewelry industry is only going to grow and grow fast."
Keep in mind that this particular article is a few years old now, and lab grown diamond demand has been steadily on the rise since it was written.
But... aren't diamonds valuable because they're RARE? Won't growing change this?
Good point. Mined diamonds, particularly those of good quality, are like finding 'a needle in a haystack'. To find them requires much time, effort, energy, manpower, and destruction and displacement of the natural world. There is and has always been value in what is rare and difficult to obtain -- but isn't there also value in today's world in avoiding such destructive efforts and embracing technology?
As far as how easy and prolific diamond creation is when compared to mining, it's inarguably a growing industry and diamonds are actually produced 'on demand' these days. Over years to come, it's likely there will be more and more producers of lab grown diamonds. However -- it's still a specialty market, and it still requires highly specified and advanced engineering: not just anyone can start up their own diamond-creating plant on a whim. It's also likely that some larger industry players may go around buying up these smaller producers if and when they emerge to attempt to control the market...as is the case in many industries.
As it stands, in early 2021, (according to The MVEye) all of the diamond produced this year is already claimed. That means that currently, there is actually more demand than we have actual rough producers. Producers are taking orders for rough that can be produced next year, now. That, in itself, illustrates that lab grown diamonds are at the same time valued, in demand, and limited (at least for now). At the same time, demand is growing annually with no end in sight. What's even more interesting is that the demand is being driven by consumers themselves, not advertisers. We are not currently in a situation where we are and can produce enough quantity to drive down prices and de-value goods across the market. Will that change in the future? Possibly... but then we circle back to DeBeers. With such large players in the market who are eager to protect their investments, it's our opinion that it is unlikely that we'll see prices deflate much or production surge. It's also highly unlikely that we'll see demand for greener goods lessen, which is a driving growth factor for lab grown diamonds.