Pandora, the world’s biggest jeweler, dealt a blow to diamond miners on Tuesday by announcing it would no longer sell mined gems, but exclusively man-made ones.
The Danish company, best known for its charm bracelets, already doesn’t include mined diamonds in most of its pieces. From the 85 million pieces it sells a year, only about 50,000 of them include precious stones.
Pandora said Tuesday it will release its first collection using lab-made diamonds in the UK, expanding Pandora Brilliance to other markets in 2022.
Those pieces of jewellery, chief executive Alexander Lacik said, will “not just be forever, but for everyone.”
“[The new collection] is as much a symbol of innovation and progress as it is of enduring beauty and stand as a testament to our ongoing and ambitious sustainability agenda,” Lacik said.
Since 2011, when prices peaked thanks to China’s younger shoppers, diamonds have faltered. Lab-grown stones, initially priced confusingly close to the real thing, posed a challenge.
Top diamond makers reacted to the new kind of diamonds, widely embraced by young consumers as they look identical to the mined ones, by launching a joint marketing campaign.
Under the motto “Real is Rare”, the Natural Diamond Council (formerly the Diamond Producers Association), which groups the world’s leading diamond companies, launched a series of film-like spots targeting millennials — those born between 1981 and 1996.
Failing that, they begun selling man-made diamonds themselves. Anglo American’s De Beers, for one, created the Lightbox brand to sell alternative diamonds for a fraction of the price of the mined ones.
Despite the establishment of the Kimberley Process in 2003, aimed at removing conflict diamonds from the supply chain, experts say trafficking of precious rocks is still ongoing.
Miners and world famous jewellers including Tiffany & Co, have come up with innovative ways of certifying their stones as ethically mined, mostly based in blockchain technology. The New York-based company last year began providing customers with details of newly sourced, individually registered diamonds that trace a stone’s path all the way back to the mine.
While Pandora won’t need certificates of origin for its diamond jewellery, it is making a point to note its lab-made gems are grown from carbon with more than 60% renewable energy on average, a ratio that’s set to rise to 100% next year.
As part of its plan to make operations carbon neutral within four years, the Copenhagen-based firm vowed last year to stop relying on newly mined gold and silver and use instead only recycled precious metals by 2025.