How Are Lab Grown Diamonds More Ethical?
In a world that is growing increasingly more conscious and intentional in every aspect of life, it stands to reason that the diamond industry should follow suit. Recent years have seen increased scrutiny on the industry, and rightfully so.
With an infamously unethical history, mined diamonds are beginning to fall out of popularity with particularly conscious consumers, and for good reason: they support a system of violence, poor treatment, and excessive pricing. These facts have led many people, particularly those who are very socially conscious, to avoid purchasing diamonds at all.
While this boycott mentality comes from a sense of social responsibility, it’s not 100% necessary as there is a viable alternative in lab grown diamonds. Not only are lab grown diamonds a visually identical product, but they don’t come with any of the ethical questions associated with mined diamonds.
They Are Conflict-Free
Most people have probably heard the term “Blood Diamond,” but they may not be aware of just how literal it is. Certain areas in Africa with particularly dense diamond mines will trade the stones to finance ongoing wars. In this sense, mined diamonds are quite literally financing many deaths.
Generally, blood diamonds, also known as conflict diamonds, are harvested and traded by rebel forces opposing an established government. These rebel forces control the mines completely, and although companies in other parts of the world are aware of this, they continue to purchase these ill begotten stones. The revenue produced from the diamonds allows these factions to hold forces together.
This constant flow of money to less than reputable characters only serves to further suppress these countries, which might otherwise be able to bolster their economies and societies in a more meaningful and universally productive way. Supporting the mined diamond industry often means supporting dangerous social systems, and it’s hard to know for sure that a mined diamond wasn’t initially sold by a shady character.
On the other hand, lab grown diamonds are not involved in any such business. In fact, these diamonds are strictly regulated and provide gainful employment for the scientists and lab technicians creating them. Regardless of which lab they’re grown in, these diamonds are never used as a means by which to fund conflict that often leads to death. Opposition to this funding has led some people to partake in a diamond boycott, but this is not strictly necessary.
Instead of saying no to all diamonds, it’s a better idea to simply say no to mined diamonds. Those with objections to contributing to a system of organized war funding have a viable alternative in lab grown diamonds, which do nothing of the sort.
They Do Not Receive a Ridiculous Markup`
Despite being almost identical from the standpoint of optics (even experts have a tough time differentiating lab grown from mined diamonds), lab grown diamonds are sold without the serious price hike of mined diamonds. Though this topic doesn’t relate to ethics in the sense of the way they affect a third party, it does speak to the ethics of the industry.
There was a time when diamonds weren’t all that popular for making jewelry, even when it came to engagement rings. A mere 150 years ago, diamonds weren’t widely valued much above any other precious stone. However, a few savvy jewelry companies recognized that the right marketing plan could make diamonds a must-have item, so they bought up a massive supply and then strangled the industry with rising prices.
Once these companies had amassed their diamond arsenals, they went about crafting a brilliant marketing plan that painted diamonds as a symbol of undying love and social status. It worked brilliantly, and diamond consumption rose rapidly in the United States, Europe, and Asia. While this fact is now common knowledge, diamond prices have never fallen from their absurd heights—at least, mined diamonds have not.
Some of the cost of mined diamonds is passed down from the actual cost associated with mining, though this is much lower than some might realize. Because many mining operations aren’t ethical, there’s little cost for the labor. For the most part, though, the astronomical price of a mined diamond is due totally to long-standing preference for them.
Because lab grown diamonds are a growing market that hasn’t been advertised with the same effort for opulence and exclusivity as mined diamonds, they don’t follow the same pattern of massive markups.
Instead, lab grown diamonds take a more consumer-friendly approach, as they are priced fairly despite not being less visually stunning. In this way, lab grown diamonds are quite revolutionary for the industry, disrupting a time honored tradition of grossly overcharging.
They Don’t Promote Child Labor or Unlivable Wages
Another main concern about mined diamonds is the fact that they subject workers, including children, to unsafe conditions and absurdly low pay. Since many diamonds are mined by small operations in areas without strict regulations, child labor laws are often non-existent.
Additionally, there is no minimum wage so workers can be paid next to nothing despite the dangerous nature of their jobs. Most Americans know someone who once worked in a mine of some sort, and they can tell you that mining jobs are no picnic; unfortunately, many laborers who mine diamonds today don’t have unions or other social programs to help them demand fair wages. These concerns go hand in hand with those over diamonds funding conflict.
Just as it feels unethical to spend money on a diamond that will be funneled back into a system that often causes bloodshed, it feels unethical to support a mined diamond industry that shows little regard for the laborers actually doing the dirty work. Many people avoid buying clothes from companies that operate sweatshops, and shy away from food they know has been harvested by laborers earning well under a living wage—shouldn’t diamonds be treated with the same consideration?
Luckily, lab grown diamonds come with none of these concerns. They’re sourced in a way that does not take advantage of anyone, and those who produce them are paid fairly. Because lab grown diamonds are created under watchful regulations, there’s no need for concern about labor law violations. If everyone stopped buying mined diamonds, a dangerous and unfair industry would be defunded at long last.
It’s fair to be a little wary of the diamond industry with the assorted questionable activities of its past. Indeed, many of the long-held concerns over mined diamonds are alive and well even today. However, lab grown diamonds represent a truly new wave of ethical treatment and pricing within the space. There’s no need to call for an all-out boycott on diamonds—a lab grown stone is both beautiful and ethical, and can be enjoyed without any guilt.