By David Brough
Pandora’s pledge to use lab-grown instead of natural diamonds, will open up the floodgates to other jewellers to follow suit, by vigorously promoting sustainability.
A hard commitment to sustainability reflects Pandora’s sensitivity to the growing requirements of Gen Z and Millennial consumers who insist that their luxury treats respect the environment and working conditions.
Pandora’s announcement is also a shrewd business decision, as sourcing costs of lab-grown diamonds are expected to fall as output increases.
The Pandora share price jumped more than 6 percent after the news appeared in a BBC report on May 4, 2021.
Most likely lab-grown diamond (LGD) and natural diamond jewellery will co-exist in different market segments – LGD will be entry level, modestly priced, with natural diamond jewellery targeted at a more affluent, typically older clientele.
The natural diamond lobby will have to be on their toes to defend their turf: they will have to shout loudly about the support the diamond mining industry delivers to workers and their families in developing countries. And how every possible effort is taken to minimise negative impact of mining on the environment.
The synthetic diamonds industry will need to move towards a more sustainable, renewables-driven generation of electricity in LGD production, in order to dominate the sustainability argument.
A number of mid-market jewellers are expected to follow the lead set by Pandora in supplying LGD jewellery, and will push sustainability marketing hard.
However, several jewellers at the top end of the market will be reluctant to embrace LGD jewellery as they will wish to show off the rarity of natural diamonds in their high-priced pieces.
So the pressure will increase on the mining multinationals to develop more sustainable solutions for production.
Asked to comment on Pandora’s pledge to use lab-grown diamonds, the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC), of which Pandora is a member, said:
“The RJC believes sustainability is essential for consumer confidence, and that is what our standards are all about. Our Code of Practices is a robust framework that integrates strong management systems in all relevant areas including human rights, labour rights, product integrity and environmental impact.
“We support product integrity and disclosure for all jewellery materials. Natural diamonds have a hugely positive socio-economic impact in producer and consumer countries and millions of people earn their livelihoods from the natural diamond supply chain, from mining to retail.
“For those people and their countries, diamond income is absolutely critical – sustainability is understood as a broader concept of development in nations and societies within the global ESG narrative. Pandora is a long-time and committed RJC member.
“They continue to be strong supporters of the work at the RJC, and they are proud to signal their RJC membership in their Sustainability Report 2020, shown in these links”: