Pandora became the first major jeweler to turn its back on mined diamonds, with the switch to lab stones being touted as making diamond jewelry more affordable.
On Tuesday, the mainstream brand, best known for its charm bracelets, launched Pandora Brilliance, which it described as its “first lab-created diamond collection.” The range, which includes earrings, necklaces and rings, includes lab stones made in the UK, with prices starting at £ 250.
Alexander Lacik, CEO of Pandora, said it was now possible to imitate nature but at a “very, very different price”. Lab diamonds could be produced for “a third of what it is for something we’ve dug up from the ground,” he said.
Concerns about the environment and working practices in the mining industry have led to a growing demand for alternatives to mined diamonds. Pandora sells 85 million trinkets a year, but only 50,000 have diamonds, making it a small player in the gemstone market.
Pandora said the demand for lab-grown diamonds is growing faster than the overall diamond jewelry market. Stones – which are identical to mined stones in terms of optics and chemical characteristics – are graded to the same standards as mined ones called the “4Cs” – size, color, clarity and carat.
In 2020, the world production of laboratory diamonds increased from 6 to 7 million carats. Mined diamond production fell to 111 million carats last year, after peaking at 152 million in 2017, according to a report from the World Diamond Center (AWDC) and consultancy firm Bain.
“We want to become a low carbon company,” Lacik told the BBC. “I have four children, I am leaving this land one day, I hope I can leave it in a better condition than maybe what we have kind of created over the last 50 years. Pandora had previously said that from 2025 it would only use recycled gold and silver.
Pandora, which is listed on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange, hopes that lab-grown diamonds will attract new buyers to a brand that is no longer in fashion.
Over the past two years, Lacik has spearheaded an overhaul of the company, which has 2,700 stores, after suggesting it had become “tired”. Last year it generated a turnover of 19 billion Danish kroner (2.2 billion pounds sterling).
The Brilliance range, which will first go on sale in the UK, is advertised as carbon neutral as diamonds are made with 60% renewable energy and the remaining emissions are offset. When it goes on sale in other markets next year, the diamonds are expected to be made from 100% renewable energy.