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Buy diamonds or land? They aren't making more of the stuff?

OMG, I bought my missus this expensive diamond engagement ring and this happens! I should have stuck with 24 Carrot Gold!

Lab-grown diamonds may not be forever—but their rise is driving down prices

Man-made diamonds are having their moment, but natural diamonds aren't done yet.

By Clarisa Diaz

Aug 17, 2023

There’s no better time than now to buy diamond jewelry, according to data by Paul Zimnisky, a leading global diamond industry analyst. The analysis shows that lab-grown diamond jewelry sales grew globally to almost $12 billion in 2022, up 38% year-over-year. In 2023, so far the industry has sold $14.6 billion worth of lab-grown diamonds worldwide. Zimnisky’s diamond analytics are used by various financial institutions and retailers, including HSBC, the International Monetary Fund, Tiffany & Co., and Cartier.

The growth shows a trend of more lab-grown diamonds being sold every year since 2016, when the lab-grown diamond market made just $700 million globally. The biggest sellers are Signet Jewelers, based in the US, and Pandora, a global fashion jewelry company targeting US consumers with diamonds. Signet is the largest diamond jewelry retailer in North America which claimed to “really lean into” lab-grown diamonds in early 2022, according to Zimnisky. Signet’s banners include Kay Jewelers, Zales, James Allen, and Blue Nile.

In a budget-strapped economy, lab-grown diamonds will do

More diamonds in the market have led to more demand, which leads to falling prices. As of August 2023, a generic lab-grown diamond is priced at $1,425 per carat while the price of a generic natural diamond is $5,185 per carat. In 2016, prices were $5,450 and $6,538 per carat respectively—about a 74% decrease in price for lab-grown diamonds. Natural diamonds also fell by almost 21% during the same time period.

Declining capital equipment and production costs, along with growing investment have allowed production in recent years to boost supply and create pressure for the lowest price. India and China account for around 75% of global lab-grown diamond jewelry production by volume.

The economy in the US following the covid pandemic has led Americans to be more budget-tight with fewer savings. Weddings are no exception, with couples having to find more affordable ways to get married, the ring included. But lab-grown diamonds may not be forever. “We are headed towards an industry where these two markets [natural and lab-grown] are not zero-sum,” Zimnisky told Quartz. “I think once the industry matures, most lab-diamonds will be sold as fashion or semi-precious jewelry.” Natural diamonds, finite in their supply, will ultimately increase in their value long-term.

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