Story at a glance
- The mining industry has long been dogged by human rights and labor abuses as well as environmental damage.
- Now, one jewelry maker is switching to selling exclusively lab-made diamonds.
- The shift is the first as diamond sales trend away from mined diamonds and toward more sustainably made diamonds.
Pandora is closing the metaphorical box on mining for good, the world’s biggest jewelry maker announced this month, switching exclusively to laboratory-made diamonds in efforts to curb the environmental and humanitarian damage done by the industry.
"It's the right thing to do," chief executive Alexander Lacik told the BBC about the company’s latest sustainability efforts.
The company already stands out among its peers in responsible sourcing, according to a recent report on industry standards, using recycled gold, offering lab-made diamonds and disclosing noncompliance issues and other often-withheld information in its annual sustainability report. But the only way to guarantee that no diamond sold is mined from conflict areas or under humanitarian violations is to make it yourself.
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"Whether consumers are buying more or less today, right now is actually not the key driver," Lacik told the BBC. "We want to become a low-carbon business. I have four children, I'm leaving this earth one day, I hope I can leave it in a better shape than maybe what we've kind of created in the last 50 years or so."
Lab-made diamonds, which grew to between 6 million and 7 million carats in annual production in 2020 according to the BBC, are increasingly popular among millennials and following generations, although Lacik said the company is not trying to compete with or price out mined diamonds. The company's diamonds are made in Thailand, where it advertises an 88 percent recycling rate and is pursuing a goal of 100 percent renewable energy.
"Pandora jewellery today is much more of an everyday type of jewellery, even though a large proportion of it is gifted. The way the diamond industry has kind of been created to a large degree has been very much about gifting, and in particular around when people get engaged or married," Lacik told the BBC. "We're trying to open up this playing field and say, you know, with the type of value equation that we offer, you can use this everyday if you want."
It also makes business sense.
"We can essentially create the same outcome as nature has created, but at a very, very different price," Lacik told BBC, noting the cost was nearly "a third of what it is for something that we've dug up from the ground."
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