The far-reaching impact of international conflicts can have unanticipated effects in certain markets like the jewelry industry. When buyers the world over railed against the sale of conflict diamonds, also known as “blood diamonds,” the diamond industry listened. The growing awareness of violence and human rights violations in Sierra Leone, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, and Ivory Coast meant that buyers wanted a guarantee that their money was not fueling wars.
The outrage against the blood wars spawned the Kimberly Process, which requires nations to prove that exported diamonds come from legitimate mining and sales processes.
So now the question becomes — should you buy synthetic or mined diamonds?
There is no difference in appearance. Synthetic diamonds are almost indistinguishable from mined diamonds. According to Patti Geolat, appraiser / estate jewelry buyer, the three most common reasons buyers opt for synthetic diamonds are that synthetics are conflict-free, green, and less expensive than mined diamonds.
The Kimberly Process has practically eliminated the first reason, but the second and third reasons bear a little further discussion.
“We don’t have full disclosure yet on the environmental impact of manufacturing diamonds,” explains Geolat. “However, raising your awareness and demanding that manufacturers be held accountable incentivizes them to keep their power plants green. In a way, if you want to be green, you should buy a pre-owned diamond since the diamond already exists. You know it’s not creating any new issues. It’s green, too, because it was mined out of someone’s jewelry box.”
As far as price, synthetic diamonds are only 20 – 30% below the price of mined diamonds. That may be significant for those who are just starting out their career or life process and may not have a large amount of disposable income.
Geolat notes that buyers in the market today are selecting from a variety of options for an engagement ring: a pre-owned diamond, a newly minded diamond, a synthetic diamond, a diamond simulant or an alternative gemstone like sapphire.
“Depending on what you like,” says Geolat, “some people opt to buy the mounting they like and set it with a diamond simulant or an alternative gemstone, until they can save up for a natural diamond. If you get an alternative gemstone, you’re still pulling it out of the earth, which has an environmental impact. The concerns about mined diamonds are legitimate, but I don’t think there is one answer that is going to satisfy all concerns.”
Wearing two hats like she does, Geolat is often asked about the resale value of a new purchase. It can be an uncomfortable conversation to have, but arguably it is no different from the realities of making any large purchase. At some point, you may want to trade in your diamond. The nature of market fluctuations is such that no-one can guarantee what the value of your synthetic diamond will be at that point. However, if history is any indication, there may be very little, if any, resale value for synthetic diamonds. Give us a call at 972.239.9314 or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment to discuss your options.
When it comes to purchasing diamonds, identify your concerns and listen to advice to make an informed choice, but in the end the decision to go with synthetic or mined diamonds is entirely up to you.
We encourage readers to join in the conversation. Do you buy synthetic or mined diamonds? Why?