Opening Pandora's Box 

 

 

 

If you happen to keep a pulse on diamond industry latest news, it’s likely you heard about Pandora, a jewelry charm company’s latest announcement regarding their “honorable” venture to only use lab made diamonds for environmentally friendly reasons. 

At a first glance these headlines make this decision seem responsable, even honorable, but in further unearthing the claims Pandora makes, it’s quite evident that the only thing they have successfully done is fooled the mainstream media, lost the trust of future customers, and made a mockery of themselves. 

Are Lab Grown and Naturally Occurring  Diamonds Really The Same?

The first claim they make is that lab made diamonds have similar properties to that of a naturally occurring diamond. In actuality, a lab-grown diamond is a man-made product that shares the chemical and optical properties of natural diamonds, but whose origin and value differ greatly. 

Lab-grown diamonds are produced in factories in approximately 2-3 weeks using one of two methods originally developed in the 1960s for industrial purposes – HPHT and CVD. These methods artificially replicate natural conditions found in the Earth, forcing carbon atoms into a crystal structure. In more recent years, technology improvements have allowed factories to produce lab-grown diamonds in qualities that allow for uses beyond industrial. (Source)

Although their chemical structure is the same as a natural diamond, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) a lab-created diamond cannot be called “real” because it does not come from the Earth and it is not a gemstone. (Source)

Only a natural diamond has the rarity that supports its economic and emotional value. Consumers use diamonds as a symbol of love for that very reason. We all want to feel special, unique and rare, especially in our relationships, and a diamond communicates that message.(Read more on this topic)

But people buy diamonds because they know they are literally buying a piece of the earth- a precious gem that was fostered over the course of millions of years, and then transformed by artisans and professionals into a beautifully shining stone. This is the value and the magic carried out by natural diamonds, and purchasing a diamond means respecting the way nature intended it to be formed. 

Alternatively, what value does a man made diamond carry? The rough material is made in machines and machines can transform them into polished stones like cookie cutters because not a lot of work is needed around a pattern similar to that of a waffle- and you already know what it’s composed of.

Man made diamonds carry the same value as any other machine made products, while diamonds carry an almost priceless value. Something that can be cherished for generations. (Read more about this topic)

Are Lab Grown Diamonds Better For the Environment?

Pandora wastes no time positioning lab made diamonds as an “ethical choice,” versus natural diamonds. It’s quite ironic that they should bring ethics into what could be considered the diamond industries greatest marketing ploy in quite some time, especially considering Pandora used mined diamonds in about 50,000 of the 85 million pieces it created in 2020. 

This misleading narrative has conveniently left out the fact that diamond mining is generally less harmful to the environment than other types of mining. Additionally, the orebodies used in mining are vertical not horizontal, ultimately affecting less of the surrounding area. Many companies have established protected habitats adjacent to their operations, often times larger than the mining operation itself.

The isolated nature of diamond mines means the workforce lives close by and develops a community spirit, which the diamond industry supports by investing in hospitals, schools, training and bursary programs.

For example, 33% of Botswana’s GDP comes from diamond mining, and an estimated five million people globally have access to health care thanks to diamond revenues, according to diamondfacts.org.

Today’s mining is not done by hand but is quite automated with miners moving millions of tons of rocks per year. Miners operating large earth loaders in open pits or underground would never even see a diamond. (Read more on this topic)

What About The Future of the Diamond Industry?

We’re reaching a point in our industry where lines are being drawn in the hypothetical man made versus lab made diamond sand. Customers will have no choice but to decide if they’re for or against the marketing manufactured narrative relating to lab made diamonds, and the type of impermanence they offer, or if they believe in the true value of a man made diamond. 

It will likely come down to what feels right for you as an individual and what tangible legacy you’re hoping to leave behind. A family heirloom perhaps? 

Coaching individuals through decisions such as these is what we pride ourselves on, and have been doing for the last 10 years. (Read more on this topic)

At La Bijouterie, we never work with conflict diamonds. We strictly work with ethically sourced GIA certified diamonds, and you will receive a GIA certificate and appraisal with your jewel. We’ve worked in the diamond wholesale business for generations and only work with trusted and ethical sources.

If you’re not sure where to begin in your quest for a diamond, come talk to us. What we pride ourselves on most is educating individuals and helping you make decisions in a no pressure environment. You can book an appointment today or read our client reviews on Yelp.

We’re always at your service,

Set F.

Founder of La Bijouterie

The Diamond Industry’s Two Truths and a Lie

 



I get asked a lot about the diamond industry, more specifically, my thoughts on it as a whole. It’s becoming evident that there is a lot of misinformation about the ethics surrounding industry, and its regulations. As someone who worked over 20 years in the African mining industry and then the wholesale industry after that, as a Father, and as a fellow human, I’m here to tell you that as with any industry, this one does have its flaws. But if I believed the industry was detrimental to our society, I would have left it a long time ago. 

My experience has allowed me the freedom to know which companies source diamonds  ethically, and which to avoid. Below I’ve laid out my take on the “Two Truths and a Lie” about the Diamond Industry. Let me know your thoughts and questions in the comments, and let’s continue the conversation. 

Truth #1: The Diamond Industry is in fact regulated 

Since the introduction of the Kimberley Process (KP) certification scheme and the World Diamond Council (WDC) System of Warranties, more than 99.8% of the world’s diamonds are certified conflict-free, with the support of 81 countries.

Today the industry is mostly self-regulated, and various countries have additional layers of government regulation in place. The UK’s Government Diamond Office, for example, works closely with HM Revenue & Customs, the European Commission and civil groups to combat illicit diamonds.

Additionally, there are voluntary and self-regulation systems that are effective in maintaining the diamond pipeline. Like most jewelers, we want to ensure our customers have the confidence to know that our source of supply is conflict-free. Additionally, many jewelers subscribe to the Responsible Jewellery Council, De Beers’ Best Practice Principles, and the Signet Responsible Sourcing Protocol.

Truth #2: The Diamond Industry is not owned by DeBeers

The good news is no one company has controlled the market for decades. This myth dates back to the 1980’s when De Beers did indeed control over 90% of the supply chain and was almost wholly responsible for marketing diamonds, having developed its famous “A Diamond Is Forever” slogan in the 1940s. This also led to the perception that De Beers “invented” the diamond engagement ring, when in fact the first was recorded as early as 1477 by Archduke Maximillian of Austria, who commissioned the very first diamond engagement ring on record for his betrothed, Mary of Burgundy.

By the 1990s, the market for new mining companies opened, breaking the hold that De Beers and Alrosa had on the industry and ushering in a new wave of diamond discoveries in Angola and Canada, according to Pouroulis.

Today De Beers company share of the diamond market is closer to 35%, while five other companies divide the remaining 65% of diamond share.

The Lie: Diamond mining individuals and communities are mistreated and at-risk

To first understand why this myth is so false, it’s important to understand how the mining process works and how much diamond mines actually help strengthen a community. The isolated nature of diamond mines means the workforce lives close by and develops a sense of community, which the diamond industry supports by investing in hospitals, schools, training and bursary programs.

For example, 33% of Botswana’s GDP comes from diamond mining, and an estimated five million people globally have access to health care thanks to diamond revenues, (diamondfacts.org). 

Today’s mining is not done by hand but is quite automated with miners moving millions of tons of rocks per year. It’s possible for Miners operating large earth loaders in open pits or underground, to never even see a diamond.

An outlet called Only Natural Diamonds, shared a fascinating real life story of two female geologists in Siberia and their journey to finding diamond deposits, as well as the environmental protection that took place following.   

“The Living Diamonds of Yakutia is testament to the fact that for the world’s major diamond producers, planning to open a mine is about much more than just extracting diamonds, it’s about sustainable development and environmental stewardship.

This has led to more than 643,000 acres of wilderness around the globe that is protected by seven natural diamond companies: ALROSA, Petra Diamond, De Beers Group, RZM Murowa, Arctic Canadian Diamond Company, Rio Tinto and Lucara Diamond.

Before a proposal to open a diamond mine is even put forward, rigorous research and planning is undertaken; every step of the way is subject to strict requirements from local authorities and communities.”

It may go against what many are made to believe, but most mining companies do have a heart, are regulated and are helping the planet and creating thriving communities. 

You can learn more about the diamond mining industry by checking out our previous blog post here. To book a stress free appointment and learn about our unique three step design process, click here

Merci!

Set

Founder, La Bijouterie


 

From Clicks to Bricks- A Modern Day Tale of Consumer Buying

 

Picture Source: Unsplash

 

If you’ve ever considered the pros and cons of buying a diamond online versus in person, you may be interested to know that Blue Nile, one of the largest online retailers of diamonds, just announced  plans to grow its showroom presence from five to 55 locations within the next three years. Others are also dipping their toes back in the showroom waters, according to The International Council of Shopping Centers.

 

This brings us to the question of why. As a company, we’ve always believed in the value of in-person shopping, especially as it relates to something as important and meaningful as an engagement ring. Ten years ago, when La Bijouterie was formed, we made the purposeful decision to open a brick and mortar location, not an online store, because we value the importance of helping customers in person, especially when making one the biggest and most emotionally charged decisions of their lives. It seems as though today’s consumers value the same.

 

According to CBRE Retail Services Group Senior Vice President Danny Jacobson, “all retail is reimagining their store experience, and showrooms are a way to draw more people into their space or to supplement their online offering.” Consumers are wising up to the uncomfortable at best, rules around buying a diamond online, and companies like Blue Nile, implementing the rules, are taking a hit because of it. 

 

For instance, did you know that online diamond stores do not offer any quality guarantee? If something is in fact wrong with the diamond you purchased, (say an imperfection you weren’t expecting, or the color is off), it would result in you overpaying for a diamond you thought was a great deal. The truth is there is a lot to consider outside of the 4Cs that someone who isn’t in the diamond profession would have no way of knowing. 

 

This brings us to quality. A diamond should be inspected top to bottom with a magnifying glass by both the jeweler and the buyer, so you have a clear understanding of what you’re actually purchasing. An online website has no pressure to offer you a top quality diamond at a reasonable price since there is no official face to the brand. No one person's name or livelihood is on the line.

 

Although the customer experience may be at the forefront of why mega online retailers are opening brick and mortar stores, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the need to offset the monetary ramifications of the Tax Law that was recently implemented for online diamond retailers. 

 

More than anything else, placing trust in the establishment you’re buying your diamond from is of utmost importance as it goes hand in hand with the customer experience you hope to receive. 

 

Buying a diamond online means making one of the biggest financial purchases of your life completely blind. As you might imagine, it takes years to understand and learn how to evaluate a diamond, which is why buying online can be so tricky and unforgiving. 

 

Do you really want an AI bot determining the future ring or earrings your partner will wear for the rest of their life? Do yourself a favor and go with a jeweler that prides themselves on the customer service they offer, and has many repeat customers. Having a tangible location allows us to meet you in person (safely), and help you every step of the way. 

 

Have questions? Leave them below or book a no stress appointment to get your questions answered in real time. In the meantime, check out our reviews on Google and Yelp

 

We can’t wait to see you!

 

~ LB 

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