Lab-made diamonds not as sustainable as assumed

Lab-made diamonds not as sustainable as assumed

Hemali Chhapia/ TNN / Updated: Apr 26, 2023, 17:25 IST

MUMBAI: A report has flagged that not all lab-grown diamonds are sustainable and that they need tremendous amounts of energy—requiring a temperature close to 20% of that of the sun’s surface—for production.

The report, titled ‘Diamond Facts: Addressing myths and misconceptions about the diamond industry’, released on April 22 by the Natural Diamond Council (NDC), a global organization of six member-partners, aims to tackle common misconceptions about the diamond industry, including the claim that lab-grown diamonds cannot be detected using professional verification instruments.


Different growth methods produce different diamond crystal shapes. Seen here are a CVD (left), HPHT (middle) and natural diamond crystal (right). The CVD diamond is edged in non-diamond carbon from the growth process. The natural octahedral diamond is covered in etch marks called trigons.


“Laboratory-grown diamonds replicate the natural diamond creation process, requiring a mass amount of electricity, mostly from the national grid,” the NDC has said. It said over 60% of such diamonds are mass-produced in China and India, where coal contributes to 63% and 74%, respectively, of grid electricity production. In an email interview with TOI, David Kellie, the NDC’s CEO, said the council decided to put out such a report to bust myths. “There are many myths about the modern diamond industry that remain stubbornly pervasive, some of which are a legacy remaining from prior generations; others that have been created more recently. The values of the natural diamond industry and how it positively impacts so many lives, particularly in India, are important for people to be aware of. The objective of this analysis is to bring together reliable third-party data into one document that provides all in the industry a singular source of reference to be able address these myths,” he said.

On the future of natural diamonds in a world when lab-grown diamonds (LGDs) are being mass produced, Kellie said, “...We believe that both are becoming established as separate products with distinct audiences. If you look at the scenario in the US, where laboratory grown diamonds have been present for a while and the market and consumer are more mature, we have observed that even though there has been an increase in the purchase of LGDs, natural diamonds, too, have seen an upswing in sales since the start of the pandemic.”

Which of the two make for better investment? Kellie said the average price of a 1.5 carat laboratory-grown diamond decreased by over 74% from 2016-23. “While natural diamond prices have also fluctuated, over the last 35 years, on average, they have risen by 3% per annum.”

TOI reached out to two firms producing lab-grown diamonds but both refused to comment, saying they hadn’t seen the report yet.