Survey Casts Doubt on the ‘Realness’ of Lab-Grown Diamonds

A new survey finds that consumers have doubts about the “realness” of lab-grown diamonds, while another poll found that younger shoppers are increasingly open to the concept.

The first, a Harris Poll sponsored by the Diamond Producers Association (DPA), the diamond mining group, says that many consumers associate lab-grown diamonds with terms such as “artificial” and “not real.”

The second survey, by MVI Marketing, a consumer research company that has lab-grown diamond clients, found that millennial consumers are intrigued by the product.

The DPA/Harris Poll said that 68 percent of respondents believe that diamonds created in a factory are not “real” diamonds. Sixteen percent considered a lab-grown diamond “real.”

(It should be noted that whether lab-grown diamonds are real is a subject of debate.)

When asked why they consider non-mined diamonds to be unreal, 79 percent of those who felt that way said it was because they were “not natural or factory made,” and 69 percent said they were “not naturally occurring.”

The DPA’s survey did show that, among millennials, consideration of synthetic diamonds has remained stable over the last year, at 70 percent. But it adds that a “diminishing number” are interested in them for milestones like engagements because of concerns about value. It didn’t get specific about that diminishing number.

DPA CEO Jean-Marc Lieberherr said in a statement, “These results show consumers care about the inherent value, authenticity, and symbolism that a diamond carries.”

The MVI research, meanwhile, takes a different tack than the DPA study. (While MVI has lab-grown diamond clients, CEO Martin Hurwitz say this survey was not done for one.)

The MVI panel found that 70 percent of millennial respondents said they would consider a lab-grown diamond for an engagement ring—which represents a 13 percent jump from research MVI conducted in 2017.

It also found that, after hearing a description of lab-grown diamonds, about half of respondents wanted to know more about them, and more than 30 percent said they would like to see them with their own eyes.

However, it also found there was relatively low awareness of the product, with only 52 percent of respondents saying they had heard of them before the MVI survey, versus 43 percent who had not. When asked about brands that carry lab-grown stones, only e-tailer Brilliant Earth scored more than 10 percent awareness.

MVI’s research also found that most consumers were more responsive to the argument that lab-grown diamonds save money, rather than hearing they are conflict-free and eco-friendly. (It should be noted that the eco-friendly argument for lab-grown diamonds is a subject of debate as well.)

Forty percent of respondents told MVI they would consider a lab-grown diamond because they might save money, versus 32 percent who said they would consider one over environmental issues.

“The environmental pitch is a good story, but we are finding money is the biggest factor,” says Hurwitz.

Image: Getty Images

JCK News Director

17 responses to “Survey Casts Doubt on the ‘Realness’ of Lab-Grown Diamonds”

  1. neither poll is worth anything as the questions are easy to skew to get the desired results for the clients. The proof is both polls are tilted towards the beneficiaries of the results.

    • According to the releases:

      The DPA-Harris Interactive poll surveyed a nationally representative sample of 2,000 people.

      MVI study was conducted online and completed by 1,010 respondents

      I linked to both studies up top if you want more info.

  2. Peter Smith makes a great point. And, I believe, the DPA poll was 2000 people. This is the problem overall with such surveys. First of all, in addition to what is a relatively (although supposedly acceptable standard for “surveys”) small sample, there is so much we don’t know about the individuals who took the survey. For example: % of Male vs. Female; Age breakdown; income breakdown; area of the country;. currently in a relationship; have purchased?; married?All of this plays a factor in looking at results. The problem is, companies request these studies; send out PR about the findings; Media covers it; and very often it’s simply not quantifiable when you don’t have all the data to weigh whether its relevant or not! There are sources with access to far larger lists (i.e. The Knot; Wedding Wire etc.) who could potentially help to put such surveys together. Then you are reaching 100,000+ individuals. Wouldn’t that be more prudent? No one should base any buying decisions or conclusions without this level of in-depth analysis. And, the media should also publish (and ask for) the sample breakdowns noted.

  3. The true poll is what is happening in the retail stores and online. Lab Grown diamonds are a relatively new category. For many consumers mined diamonds are a commodity, while lab grown diamonds are an oddity. There is plenty of room for both. Retailers and ecommerce sites are doing very well with lab grown diamonds without cannibalizing their mined diamond sales. This DPA v. Lab Grown is a stupid fight that will only hurt consumer perceptions of all diamonds. Retailers should be careful how they disparage one type over the other.

  4. Such a ridiculous survey and so called survey findings by the DPA!! The DPA can concoct any survey and alleged findings any way they want in trying to convince anyone that will listen that consumers don’t want lab grown diamonds. Well, as a lab grown seller for the past three years I can tell you just the opposite of what the DPA is saying. My customers range from Millenials to Granmas/Granpas, and I can report they are ALL buying lab grown diamonds without hesitation. And, I’ll tell you why…because lab grown diamonds are REAL diamonds…are identical to mined diamonds and are much less expensive. This makes diamond consumers HAPPY and puts big SMILES on their faces!! Because of lab grown diamonds…consumers can finally get the diamond of their dreams at an affordable price, and if they are eco-conscious consumers then they also know that lab grown are eco-friendly and conflict free. Consumers don’t care if they came from the ground or from a laboratory…both are DIAMOND, end of story. The genie is out of the bottle and is not going back in, so until mined diamonds come down in price…then mined sellers will keep losing biz to lab grown and God forbid Moissanite!!

  5. Interesting that the MVI poll showed an increase among millennials from 57% last year to 70% this year in willingness to consider a synthetic diamond engagement ring. It appears that younger jewelry buyers are more open to synthetics than older buyers–I’d like to see more research on this.
    Anecdotally, I had a millennial say to me “aren’t babies created in a laboratory the same as other babies?” (referring to IVF babies). Pretty interesting take on the term “lab created”!

  6. What a joke, DPA is so off base with reality. Lab Grown is tripling growth every year. But they should keep their heads in the dark. The more they talk about it and pass bad press. The better it is for Lab Grown. The cunsomers accept it. Let’s not forget diamonds are nothing more then a emotional purchase.

  7. Let me confuse this even more: crystal growth is a natural act. There is no such thing as “artificial crystal growth.” This is like saying tomatoes grown hydroponically are fake or artificial….and there is no such thing as a fake tomato. This is what is dangerous about organizations like CIBJO or the DPA…The ISO governing body in Geneva asked the diamond industry to write up a definition of diamond. The person asked was a diamond site holder. His definition of natural diamond was correct but he also added that anything else, like a lab created diamond, is artificial. Bingo! Now the DPA and others use this self engineered wording as gospel because it has ISO standing. Well, ISO better get their legal department in gear because if this “artificial” ISO definition is used in any legal complaints, they will be subpoenaed and asked to explain this obvious self serving transgression.

  8. For all levels of the jewelery trade this issue is regulated by the FTC Fair Trade Guidelines, and if you are not famealear with them you need to read and study them.

  9. Yes, all levels of the jewelery trade are regulated by the FTC Guidelines. Part of the problem with that is that the FTC Guidelines have historically been informed by the deep pockets side of the industry.

  10. The Harris poll seems to indicate that of the 32% of respondents that did not say that lab-grown diamonds are not real, half, 16%, thought they were. MVI’s survey shows that millennials are largely OK with lab-grown. While this is interesting, it also misses the point. The public does not read FTC or ISO declarations, and never will. Their decisions will be financial, practical and emotional, and will ignore official declarations. Twenty years ago, I estimated that as production of lab-grown diamonds reached meaningful proportions, the public will buy them. I thought at the time that it was reasonable to assume that 20% of the public would buy lab-grown diamonds without a problem, especially if they were much cleaner than naturals and cheaper. I assumed that 20% of buyers would only buy natural diamonds, reflecting their investment in the “billions-year old” story. The other 60% would still have to make up their minds.
    The arguments made now in defense of naturals are in some ways unnecessary. People get that idea fully. Their decisions will now be made weighing the alternatives. Some will only want natural diamonds for an engagement ring, but maybe not for body jewelry, which is mostly comprised of small diamonds. In my opinion, clean beautiful lab-grown diamonds will beat I-3 browns any day. But we’ll have to wait and see what the court of public opinion has to say.
    The point here is that anyone in the diamond business today better treat lab-grown diamonds as an important part of the industry as a whole. They are not yags or CZ or moissonite or glass or whatever. They are diamond by definition (if not by official nomenclature) and that will make a huge difference in how they are used in the future.

  11. I have been a seller of lab grown diamonds for over 3 years, and I can attest to the fact that my customers have no problem with purchasing lab grown diamonds over minded diamonds, and as such is contrary to the survey study finding by DPA. My lab grown customers who are comprised of Millennial’s all the way up to Granma’s/Granpa’s don’t distinguish or see any difference between mined and lab grown….as both are considered diamonds by the GIA, and that being regardless of where they are from…the ground or from the laboratory. The reason my customers choose lab grown over mined is simple…$$$$$. Lab grown diamonds are so much less expensive than mined diamonds, and Millennial’s also noted that lab grown are eco-friendly and conflict free…and that is important to them. The Genie is out of the bottle and it ain’t going back in! Until pricing comes down for mined diamonds then mined diamonds will lose out to lab grown diamonds and God forbid Moissanite!!

    • GIA separates the two types of diamonds. One is natural. The other is laboratory- grown. Trying to represent the two in an enigmatic way will not make the synthetic a natural diamond, ever. I am in hopes the distinction is made when selling to the end customer. Sure, the customer will ultimately make the decision which is best for them. Budget or otherwise. It is our job to represent the choice honestly and not as a muddy illusion of them being the same in value.

  12. I offer my clients both CVD diamonds (lab grown) as well as GIA certificates. In most cases the more educated the client, (those who have doctorates, in tech, programmers etc), the more likely the choice will be lab created. It is not about romance, it is all about the money. These folks are no difference except the number on the invoice.
    Debeers is playing all sides, to see what will fly. My guess it will be lab created everything in the future. The only jewelry that really holds it’s value is jewelry with provenance. Who owned it and who made it. That is the only story worth telling. All the rest is the price of metal.

  13. Let’s ask the sellers of Lab Grown Diamonds how much they will refund or apply to a future purchase if the client brings one back for an upgrade to another Lab grown stone or a “natural” diamond….that is where the story will end. Google ‘Light Box’….’diamonds you can loose in the sea’. 800 per carat one carat stones….pinks and blues ??? Buy an emerald, Ruby or sapphire for value and investment….

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