Etika Jewels became the latest laboratory-grown diamond player to break into the UAE market when it launched in the country this month, joining others such as Fyne Jewellery, founded by third-generation diamantaire Aya Ahmed, and Evermore, which will open its first boutique in Dubai on October 5.
Globally, too, brands such as Pandora, Kimai and Brilliant Earth are offering planet and pocket-conscious buyers diamonds that were grown by a human hand rather than formed over hundreds of years.
What are lab-grown diamonds?
Laboratory-grown diamonds are as real — optically, physically and chemically — as the crystallised carbon creations found inside the Earth, which can take centuries to form and millions of dirhams to extract. Growing diamonds can be likened to the workings of a greenhouse. Diamond seeds, which are simply carbon fragments of pre-existing diamonds, are planted inside a growth chamber. The conditions are replicated for the seeds to undergo natural crystallisation, with the same heat, pressure and other elements found under the Earth's surface, resulting in coloured or colourless diamonds.
Why choose these stones?
Monetarily speaking, lab-grown diamonds can be up to 30 per cent cheaper than natural stones.
Geologically, the harmful air emissions on a single carat of mined diamond are 1.5 billion times higher than those of a lab-grown one, according to figures by market research company Frost & Sullivan.
Plus, the very real, very tragic issue of conflict or blood diamonds — stones that are mined illicitly to fund wars and insurgencies at the cost of human lives — does not come into play at all when you are dealing with lab-made diamonds.
The case against ‘synthetic’ stones
Cost and moral conflict aside, another distinction between natural and man-made diamonds is the time it takes for them to come into being. And therein lies the major dilemma. For, how can an object that takes three months to form be compared with one that can take up to three billion years?
Diamonds are, after all, the ultimate form of conspicuous consumption — they are precious because they are rare, and detractors are vehement in their opposition to the unromantic connotations of diamonds formed by a machine.
Whichever type of diamond you choose to invest in, there is no denying that jewellery brands are increasingly putting more thought and care into designing aesthetically pleasing pieces studded with man-made diamonds.
Scroll through the gallery to see lab-grown diamond pieces currently on the market