The dazzling rise of the lab grown diamond

Pooja Sheth Madhavan of Limelight Diamonds clears all the myths surrounding lab grown diamonds

Manu Vipin Published :  30th June 2023 05:00 PM   |   Published :   |  30th June 2023 05:00 PM
Lab grown diamonds

Lab grown diamonds

Young people are falling out of love with mined diamonds because of their high humanitarian costs and environmental factors. How does their substitute — lab-made diamonds — measure up? Pooja Sheth Madhavan of Limelight Diamonds clears all our doubts.

Pooja Sheth Madhavan of Limelight Diamonds founded the brand in 2019 with an aspiration to create a luxury niche in the world for lab-grown CVD diamonds from India. Hailing from London, Pooja studied Economics & Finance at the London School of Economics and Harvard Business School, USA, and worked as an Investment Banker at Barclays Capital in London. Her sound understanding of management coupled with a global perspective has resulted in establishing the brand in India.

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She speaks to Indulge about sustainable luxury jewellery, benefits, trends to look out for, and clears all the myths surrounding lab grown diamonds.

Pooja Sheth Madhavan, Founder, Limelight Diamonds

Tell us all about lab grown diamonds

LGDs are 100% real diamonds that are grown in labs by exactly replicating the diamond creation process, which occurs below the surface of the earth. As a result, LGDs have the same chemical, thermal, optical and physical characteristics as a mined diamond. This is similar to the concept of test-tube babies and naturally born babies where the process is different but the output is exactly the same. In the same way, lab grown diamonds are identical to mined diamonds and also grow in different sizes and qualities and therefore have the same 4C’s too – same cut, colour, clarity and carat.

There are two types of lab-grown diamonds — CVD and HPHT. India particularly specialises and leads in the chemical vapour deposition (CVD) technology that is certified as Type IIa — the purest type of diamonds, which is a rarity to find even in mined diamonds. HPHT diamonds on the other hand are developed in China and contain metal impurities.

What in your view are the benefits?

The benefit is that lab grown diamonds are eco-friendly as well as pocket friendly. This is mainly because lab grown diamonds are not mined. As a result they save up on all the environmental and social damage that is usually associated with mining. Reports suggest that 1 carat of a lab grown diamond can save upto 250 tonnes of land and nearly 500 litres of water. Alongside, lab grown diamonds also save up on the heavy mining costs. Majority of the cost that a consumer pays for a mined diamond is the cost of mining and this is entirely saved in lab grown diamonds. As a result a lab grown diamond is at least 1/3rd the price of a mined diamond. For example, 1 carat lab grown diamond studded ring will cost a consumer between Rs 85,000 to 1 lakh, and the same will cost between 5 to7 lakh rupees in a mined diamond.

However, there is absolute no compromise in quality when it comes to lab grown diamonds but simply that the mining cost that is saved is passed on as a benefit to the end consumer.

In fact, the third benefit of lab grown diamonds grown through the CVD method is that they are the purest type of diamonds. All CVD diamonds are certified as Type IIA, which are the purest type, and have a better shine and brilliance. This is certified by all diamond grading labs that certify mined as well as lab grown diamonds. This is a rarity in mined diamonds as less than 2% of mined diamonds have ever been the purest Type IIA. HPHT diamonds have metal impurities and are not Type IIA certified.

CVD diamonds are fully grown and produced in India and therefore a complete Atmanirbhar Bharat product, which is an additional benefit.

Lab grown diamonds offer the same resale opportunities, with brands like Limelight offering exchange and buyback options on their lab grown diamond studded jewellery.

What trends are you noticing with lab grown diamond?

Awareness on lab grown diamonds is picking up amongst consumers in India and globally. The environmental as well as economical benefits of lab grown diamonds are becoming an attractive proposition for consumers of today. Consumers are looking for sustainable options even in jewellery, and lab grown diamonds is fitting in perfectly. They are picking up pace in the fine jewellery and bridal lines where women of today are preferring lab grown diamond-studded engagement ring as their promise ring of the future. The lab grown diamond jewellery sales globally crossed $12bn this year, contributing to almost 15% of the global jewellery market.

Have you noticed a spike in demand? Why do you think it is occurring now?

As awareness on the LGD technology and the product is increasing, more and more consumers are asking for lab grown diamonds. Currently estimated at $12bn, lab grown diamond jewellery market already contributes to nearly 15% of the global jewellery industry.

As prices of gold and naturally mined diamonds continue to rise, consumers are looking for affordable alternatives. The unique and independent personality of lab grown diamonds as a sustainable and environmentally friendly yet affordable gemstone is extremely well accepted by the millennial consumers and is increasingly reflecting in the sales of lab grown diamond studded jewellery across India and worldwide.

What does the future look like for lab grown diamond?

The lab grown diamond industry is picking up pace at a rapid rate globally. Currently estimated at $12 billion dollars, the lab grown diamond jewellery market is expected to touch $50 billion dollars by 2030. This is expected to be driven by two reasons — one that the demand-supply gap in natural diamonds is increasing over time. Owing to depletion of mines, no major commercial discoveries, geopolitical tensions in Russia etc. the supply of mined diamonds is declining over time but the demand for diamonds is constantly increasing. This demand gap is likely to be filled in by lab grown diamonds.

The second reasons is driven by incremental demand from consumers who have aspired but never purchased diamonds since they were very expensive. This category of consumers will also be able to purchase and enjoy diamonds due to the affordability of lab grown diamonds.

Today, in India, less than 5% of women consume natural diamonds since they are very expensive. Lab grown diamonds will be an opportunity for the balance 95% also to wear and adorn diamonds.

In addition to this, consumers are also looking for sustainable alternatives when it comes to luxury purchase. Lab grown diamonds hold the potential to create a sustainable luxury segment in the jewellery industry. Reports and studies suggest that climate is a top priority for consumers purchasing luxury goods in India and 87% consumers are even willing to pay a premium for sustainable products in luxury.

Lab grown diamonds will be that upgrade for all — eco-friendly and pocket friendly. A consumer who couldn’t purchase a diamond will now be able to afford one and a consumer who owned a diamond is now willing to go for a bigger sized diamond in the same price.

What would you advice customers who are concerned about lab grown diamonds?

 Lab grown diamonds are absolutely real and identical to mined diamonds with the same carbon composition, physical, thermal and optical characteristics. This has been validated by all diamond grading certifying bodies like GIA, IGI, SGL. Plus, lab grown diamonds grown through CVD method are the purest type of diamonds — certified as Type IIA by the same certifying bodies. Type IIA diamonds are blessed with better shine and brightness. This is rare to find even in natural diamonds as only 2% of natural diamonds ever have been Type IIA. Plus, lab grown diamonds have additional benefits since they are not mined — they save the planet and they save your money.

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Lab grown diamonds also have the same resale value benefits as any other precious gemstone.

Since they are made through the CVD method and are fully grown and made in India it’s a responsible green diamond that every Indian can be extremely proud of.

My advice would certainly be to try it out and save your money for more rational investments.