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What makes diamonds ethical?

What makes diamonds ethical? Are lab grown diamonds the answer? Find out more about lab grown diamonds.

Diamonds! Ethical! Sustainable! In the same sentence? 

Or have you been so attracted to the beauty of a diamond you didn’t consider where it came from? Or how it was produced? 

Diamonds are produced in two ways (both of which have differences between them but let’s keep it simple). There are mined diamonds and lab grown diamonds. Which of the two would you immediately think of as being ethical? Is one better than the other?

As you may know, I’m very keen to find out exactly that: where my materials come from and how they’re produced. I need answers and you should be asking questions when you make purchases if you’re considering buying ethical and sustainable products! 

That’s why I was so delighted to have the chance to visit a lab to see what makes diamonds truly ethical and sustainable. 

But please, whatever you do, do not fall for greenwashing! 


Not sure what greenwashing is? Then we’ll start here. It’s when a company or organisation markets themselves as environmentally friendly, spending more time advertising and deceiving the public (that’s you!) than making sure their products, aims and policies are eco-friendly.  

Just because a company says they’re eco-friendly doesn’t mean that they are. More questions need to be asked — the hard questions, the difficult to answer questions — all across the supply chain.

Ethics and Sustainability

Moving on, we need to differentiate between ‘ethics’ and ‘sustainability.’ These are not the same thing! 

When we consider ethics, this can vary across cultures. What is seen as ‘ethical’ in one culture may not be culturally accepted in another. These are moral principles which guide a person’s behaviour or conducting of an activity. 

When we talk about sustainability, this relates to the long-term impact that our actions can have on both people and the planet. It’s about meeting our needs without compromising the needs of the future generation in relation to the economy, society and the environment. 


So, let’s talk about diamonds. One of the reasons I haven’t used them in my designs (and this goes for a lot of gemstones) is that when I’ve asked suppliers about their ethics statement or where the gems come from I get told…… 

Yes, that’s right, no response. Which raises even more questions and suspicion! 

Until recently. I was invited along to a local diamond lab. 

Visiting the Diamond Lab

What do you think when you hear these two words? Real diamonds? Fake diamonds? Poor quality diamonds? Has the romance of the diamond gone altogether? 

It was great to learn more about this process, see what they do, who they are and they wanted me to ask the difficult questions. Now, to understand more about how diamonds are created, both lab grown and naturally, I invite you to look at another blog post called ‘What’s the difference between a lab grown and a natural diamond?’

The day started with an introduction to the founders of the lab, who they were and what motivated them. I could see these were people who had values that were aligned with my own and really wanted to show that they were committed to providing a luxury product without a dire cost. That cost refers to ethics and sustainability and isn’t one to be compromised on. 

In this lab, I learned how and where the chemicals used to create the diamonds were sourced, how much energy was being used for the process and if I wanted to know, they could find out exactly who made the diamond too!! 

I was fascinated to learn that the process started with water and the by-product created afterwards was hydrogen, which we all know as water! This is released back into the environment to be reabsorbed by the atmosphere. 

Trees were being planted in order to be carbon neutral and provide habitats for wildlife and spaces for humans to enjoy. Projects were being planned to invest funds back into producing food and creating jobs as well as charities being supported that they were passionate about. 

The cutting itself happens in Antwerp, Belgium, the diamond capital of the world! Despite its competition from other countries that provide low-cost labour, Antwerp can guarantee quality and that their workers are being paid fairly and not working in poor conditions. 

During my visit to the UK diamond lab, I felt that all my questions were answered honestly and transparently. More importantly the diamonds had traceability too. The fact that they’re local means that the carbon footprint would be even less which is a bonus for me! 

I could see that this lab prided themselves on ethics but had a long-term vision for sustainability and giving back. They were creating diamonds that were truly ethical and sustainable through their actions, not just their words.

Are lab grown diamonds more ethical than mined diamonds?’

Before I conclude, I’d like to state that there are both good and bad mines out there. Likewise there are also good and bad labs. It all comes down to:

  • how and where the product was produced
  • who created it and how, and 
  • at what cost? Immediate cost to the environment and people’s livelihoods, or future costs for the sustainability of the planet and future generations. 

In regards to what makes diamonds ethical, this would depend upon your view and opinion of what’s acceptable in order to create and produce diamonds. For me, this means fair working conditions, full traceability, transparency, and little or no harmful effects to the environment through the means of production. It also means supporting others and giving back what we can to restore our planet. 

Good mines and good labs could tick some of these boxes, but for me, there are some questions that will always remain unanswered, or not responded to!

It could be argued that by not purchasing mined diamonds, we’re endangering the livelihoods of individuals who rely on this work to provide for their families, which isn’t ethical. But we must ask ourselves what conditions they’re working in and if they’re being paid fairly. 

It could also be argued that in labs, sometimes the means of producing the diamond can use a lot of energy and be harmful to the environment depending upon the methods used, which isn’t sustainable. 

In both situations, questions should be asked around ethics and sustainability in order for us to be able to form our own conclusions about which method is the better. Not all labs and not all mines are equal, remember!

I believe the only way to conclude which is more ethical and sustainable is if our supply chain is more transparent, which isn’t always possible. I think there’s always room for improvements to be made in the industry and companies could move towards becoming more ethical and sustainable. Actions speak louder than words, and I’m much more likely to support a company that can show me, from start to finish, the entire process and the impact this has on both people and the planet in the short and long term.

So, are lab grown diamonds more ethical than mined diamonds? That depends on your personal opinion of what’s ethical and sustainable, and how confident you are about trusting the answers you receive when asking the important questions.  

Would you pay more for a diamond that has full traceability, benefits the environment and helps the local economy? Or if you were to pay less, what do you think the real cost really is? 

I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions on this. If you have questions, I’m open to conversation around this topic. I’m so glad I’ve had the opportunity to visit a local diamond lab and I’m sure I’ll be back!


Looking to source lab grown diamonds for a bespoke project? Get in touch to arrange a viewing of gemstones;


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