Throughout the ages, humans have desired gemstones for many reasons, including magical powers, status symbols and objects of adornment. Gemstones have been successfully marketed for well over a century. However, time is changing. A better understanding of the destructive practices in the mining industry has made consumers yearning for alternatives. Today, shopping for gemstones is more exciting, with new ranges of jewels and materials that have never existed until the last decade. Choices range from naturally unmodified stones to those grown in state-of-the-art laboratories. As technology has improved, laboratories can manufacture crystals with new techniques without compromising on the quality and aesthetics.
Earth-mined vs. laboratory-grown gems
In the past, gems were all assumed to be natural and mined and fashioned through carving, polishing and faceting to enhance their appearance. Mining has a significant impact on the environment, including water contamination, landscape destruction, soil loss and erosion, habitat loss and other detrimental effects such as child and forced labour and threatening local species.
Thankfully, lab gems manufacturers such as BIRON® created gemstones in laboratory for the betterment of the environment and humans. After many years of intensive research on the various aspects of hydrothermal technology, BIRON® offer indistinguishable coloured emeralds to the Colombian Muzo, the most desirable on the market.
The crystals are formed in a controlled laboratory environment, and the chemical composition and physical and optical characteristics are identical to naturally-mined gemstones. Their man-made gemstones afford the same high-quality finish as natural gemstones at a lower cost and with no detriment to the planet or people. The gemstones can be cut into various shapes and sizes to suit the needs of every designer, retailer, manufacturer or dealer, and offer endless opportunities for colour and clarity.
The future of gemstones
The demand for affordable and sustainable gemstones is increasing, especially with the environmentally conscious Gen Z consumers. Demand for environmentally-friendly gemstones is expected to maintain up to a 20 per cent annual increase resulting in up to 17 million carats by 2030. The lab-grown gemstone market is attracting both large-scale investors and celebrity endorsement. Leonardo DiCaprio, the star of the film Blood Diamond, promotes lab-created gems as an ethical and low-carbon alternative to natural gemstones. Industry giants such as De Beers are selling artificial diamonds too. They are committed to creating a positive lasting legacy by changing the health and livelihoods of the community, and contributing to a diversified economy.
Jewellery designers from all over the world are strengthening the value of the market by showing confidence in the products that consumers are unsure about. Interestingly, almost 70% of millennials and Gen Z would consider purchasing lab-grown diamonds instead of the mined alternative (source) because of their relatively low price point, transparency and sustainability. Many companies strive to find a good profitable balance by supplying mined and man-made diamonds to reach a wider audience. Whether gemstones are price or rarity driven, it’s all about the emotional value of the stones and the memories that they hold.