Have you ever wondered what really makes an item sustainable? Or debated the qualities of an 'it' item? Maybe you've pondered the future of retail in a post-pandemic world?

In a strange cycle of 'normal' life starting, pausing and restarting, more questions than answers have arisen in our daily lives. But in an effort to understand our surroundings better, we've decided to get some answers.  

We're starting with what we know best and that is the questions driving the fashion and beauty industry forward. From topics on sustainability to the merits of organic beauty, we'll be digging into the questions that have perplexed us and piqued our curiosity; and to do so, we enlist the help of industry experts to get the full run-down.

What is a lab diamond?
To put it simply, a lab diamond has been produced by a manufacturing process but has the chemical composition, physical properties and structure of a natural diamond. "Lab-grown diamonds are chemically and physically identical to mined diamonds," says Jessica Warch and Sidney Neuhaus, the co-founders of lab-diamond jewellery brand Kimai. "The main difference is that lab-grown diamonds provide 100% transparency compared to mined diamonds which have notoriously opaque supply chains and are linked to complex and often devastating social and environmental issues, including deforestation and child labour." 

What makes them more sustainable and ethical than mined diamonds? 
As Jessica and Sidney mentioned, its the transparency of their manufacturing process that makes lab diamonds a lot more sustainable, and they note that these are two factors that consumers are caring more about when shopping for jewellery. "Consumers want to know where their products come from, and value ethics and transparency as key parts of the luxury shopping experience. A recent report by McKinsey states that by 2025, an estimated 20 to 30 percent of global jewellery sales will be influenced by sustainably minded consumers."  As well as this, lab diamonds tend to be more accessible for those with smaller budgets. "T
hey are 30-40% cheaper than mined diamonds due to their shorter supply chain," says Jessica and Sidney. "So often in sustainability, you have to pay more for eco-materials and true traceability. We are delighted to be able to invite our community to be able to access beautiful sustainable diamonds, at a more accessible price point." It's a win-win situation.

Are all mined diamonds unsustainable and/or unethical?
But with the rise of lab diamonds – which when analysed on a basic level seem to be the answer to mined diamonds problems – are the traditional processes surrounding diamond extraction necessary? When it's done sustainably and ethically, it can be. Lucara is one of the world’s leading diamond mining companies who are setting the example of how diamonds should be extracted. "Thorough environmental and social impact assessments have assisted us in developing robust management systems, policies, plans and procedures all aimed at minimising adverse impacts and maximising opportunities for sustainable investments," says Eira Thomas, the President & CEO of Lucara Diamond Corp. These include creating initiatives that benefit the local community, utilising a blockchain system that give transparency and traceability to their supply chain and by actively reducing their carbon footprint. Whilst there's always work to be done, it's important to remember that when diamonds are mined responsibly, its an industry that can significantly boost a countries economy. Take Botswana, the home of the Karowe mine that Lucara extracts from, the diamond industry remains the single largest contributor to government revenues and accounts for 80 percent of the country’s export earnings. It's now become one of the world’s fastest growing economies, averaging 5 percent per annum over the past decade. If the industry only opted for lab grown diamonds, then it could go as far as whole economic infrastructures collapsing. 

Eira Thomas, the President & CEO of Lucara Diamond Corp

What does the future of the diamond industry look like? 
For Jessica and Sidney, it's a no brainer: lab diamonds are the way to go. "Why leave massive holes in the earth and fuel corrupt supply chains when we can invest in solar energy-grown lab diamonds and offer 100% transparency at a more democratic, accessible price?" And whilst this is a great option, it doesn't feel like mined diamonds will be unwanted anytime soon, nor should they be. When there are diamond corporations like Lucara that are working on changing the industry's bad reputation, they're worth supporting – especially when headed by a female CEO and Managing Director, and their total workforce includes 31% women, almost twice the global industry average. Whichever option you choose when buying diamond jewellery, what's for sure is that your decision should be an informed one.

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