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Pandora jewellery brand says it will stop selling mined diamonds

The Guardian - Tue May 4 12:40

Pandora has become the first big jeweller to turn its back on mined diamonds, with the switch to lab-grown stones billed as making its jewellery more affordable.

On Tuesday the mass-market brand, best known for its charm bracelets, launched Pandora Brilliance, which it described as its “first lab-created diamond collection”. The range, which includes earrings, necklaces and rings, features lab-grown stones made in the UK, with prices starting at £250.

Alexander Lacik, the Pandora chief executive, said it was now possible to mimic nature but at a “very, very different price”. Lab-grown diamonds could be produced for “a third of what it is for something that we’ve dug up from the ground”, he said.

Concerns about the environment and working practices in the mining industry have led to growing demand for alternatives to mined diamonds. Pandora sells 85m trinkets a year, but only 50,000 feature diamonds making it a small player in the gems market.

Pandora said demand for lab-grown diamonds was growing faster than the overall diamond jewellery market. The stones – which are identical to mined ones in terms of optics and chemical characteristics – are graded by the same standards as mined ones known as the “4Cs” – cut, colour, clarity and carat.

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In 2020, worldwide lab-grown diamond production grew to between 6m and 7m carats. The production of mined diamonds fell to 111m carats last year, having peaked at 152m in 2017, according to a report from the World Diamond Centre (AWDC) and the consultancy Bain.

“We want to become a low-carbon business,” Lacik told the BBC. “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.” Pandora previously said from 2025 it would use only recycled gold and silver.

Pandora, which is listed on the Copenhagen stock exchange, hopes the lab-grown diamonds will attract new shoppers to a brand that has fallen in and out of fashion.

For the past two years, Lacik has led a revamp of the company, which has 2,700 stores, after suggesting it had become “tired”. Last year it generated sales of 19bn Danish kroner (£220m).

The Brilliance range, which is going on sale in the UK first, is advertised as carbon neutral because the diamonds are made with 60% renewable energy and the remaining emissions are offset. When it goes on sale in other markets next year the diamonds are expected to be made with 100% renewable energy.