Danish jewellery company Pandorais launching a new line using only lab-made diamonds.
Called Pandora Brilliance, the new range will be unveiled in London on Thursday, with a campaign headed by model Ashley Graham and actress Rosario Dawson.
As the world's largest jewellery company, Pandora sells more than 85 million pieces of jewellery per year, so a move away from mined diamonds marks a major change for the industry as a whole.
In a statement about the launch, Pandora's chief executive Alexander Lacik said that lab-created diamonds have the same "optical, chemical, thermal and physical characteristics" as traditionally mined stones. He said that synthetic diamonds are "as much a symbol of innovation and progress as they are of enduring beauty and stand as a testament to our ongoing and ambitious sustainability agenda."
The lab-manufactured stones will still be graded using the same 4C system of cut, colour, clarity and carat, the company said.
There is one significant difference between the two types of stones, however, and that is the cost. Thanks to improvements in energy technology, lab-made diamonds are substantially cheaper than their mined counterparts.
Speaking to the BBC, Lacik explained that Pandora could produce lab-created gems for "a third of what it is for something that we've dug up from the ground".
With the new line starting from £250 (Dh1,276), it will make the buying of diamonds far more democratic. "Diamonds are not only forever, but for everyone," said Lacik.
While lab-created diamonds sidestep the controversy that haunts mined stones, they do carry their own issues. Production requires huge quantities of power, and presently up to 60 per cent of lab-made stones are made in China and rely heavily on energy derived from coal.
The Pandora stones will instead be made in the UK, using almost 60 per cent renewable energy, with hopes to raise that figure to 100 per cent by 2022. The launch of the Pandora Brilliance range will begin in the UK, and roll out worldwide in 2022.
Pandora sells about 50,000 pieces of diamond jewellery every year, however, the mined diamond industry is facing real difficulties.
The quantity of mined diamonds continues to fall, from a high of 157 million carats in 2017, to 111m carats in 2020, according to the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC). De Beers, the company that produces one-fifth of the world's mined diamonds, said the pandemic had resulted in a fall in production of 18 per cent in 2020.
In contrast, lab-made diamonds are proving to be a growing market. A Bain & Company report states that lab-made diamonds had "double-digit growth in production and lower retail prices" in the past two years with almost 7m carats produced in 2020.