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Pandora to ditch unethically sourced diamonds

Pandora is ditching raw materials associated with unethical production methods, instead opting for sustainable alternatives that are near identical without being morally bankrupt.

Pandora has outlined plans to stop using natural, mined diamonds in all of its products. Last year it sold 50,000 diamonds in alone and makes more pieces of jewellery than any other company in the world, making this a significant shake-up for the industry.

It’s part of a broader strategy to ditch raw materials associated with unethical production methods that are quickly losing appeal among young consumers.

According to marketing agency The MVEye, 70% of both Gen Z and Millennials – who together are the primary buyers of conventional diamonds – claim to prefer scientifically identical, sustainable alternatives.

I’m referring to lab-grown diamonds which are chemically, physically, and aesthetically indistinguishable (the only difference being how they’re formed) from the real thing. They’ve become the ideal option for a new generation of diamond-enthusiasts concerned about the future of their planet.

This is because they don’t involve the same conflict-ridden, problematic process that mining for natural diamonds does. Despite decades of reform, it remains cause for significant concern due to its inherently negative environmental and humanitarian impact.

Negative Global Impacts of Traditional Gold and Diamond Mining — Enji Studio Jewelry

The situation is particularly dire in Africa, where huge portions of land and wildlife are regularly displaced by the damaging diesel generators required to extract natural diamonds from the Earth.

Not to mention the extreme manual labour associated with the practice. Millions of African miners earn less than a dollar a day working in unsafe and unsanitary conditions.

To combat these issues is the relatively self-explanatory concept of lab-grown diamonds. These are manufactured by scientists in controlled settings, dramatically shortening the length of the process. Considering you’d have to wait three billion years for a single ring otherwise, this is a huge plus compared to natural methods.

Just like the real thing, they’re formed using extreme pressure and heat (around 1,500°C to be exact), but with a hydrocarbon gas mixture that’s inside a machine rather than one hundreds of miles underground.

This technique spurs carbon atoms to be deposited on a small seed diamond, transforming into a crystal layer by layer.

The technology behind this has seen crucial improvements as of late and demand, it seems, is growing exponentially.

‘Although the shift to a more ethical, sustainable and affordable offering of diamonds has been gradual, 2019 was a turning point,’ explains the founder of lab-grown diamond jewellery label, Matilde.

‘Forbes has reported that in 2019, demand for lab-grown diamonds had increased by 20%, while the rough diamond market suffered a 25% decline in sales.’

Bearing in mind that this trend is on course for a bright future, Pandora’s foray into the world of cultured diamonds is pretty huge news, particularly considering that the brand creates around 100 million pieces every year.

But it’s not the first time it’s made a name for itself in the realm of conscious consumerism. Pandora has pushed for some major eco-friendly advancements in recent years.

First was its decision to go carbon neutral by 2025 and switch to using 100% recycled materials within the same time frame.

Then came the announcement it had already begun using solely renewable energy in all of its crafting facilities.

This new milestone puts the brand front and centre in the jewellery industry’s journey towards improved sustainability, and could have significant ramifications for other brands that may follow suit.

‘Pandora continues its quest to make incredible jewellery available for more people,’ said Chief Executive of Pandora, Alexander Lacik, at the collection’s official launch.

‘This new line of beautifully designed jewellery is as much a symbol of innovation and progress as it is of enduring beauty. It stands as a testament to our ongoing and ambitious sustainability agenda. Diamonds are not only forever, but for everyone.’

Pandora Brilliance will be available in the UK as of this week, with plans to enter the international market as soon as possible.