Heroes

Would you buy a diamond that was grown in a lab?

There are a lot of reasons why you should.

Would you buy a diamond that was grown in a lab?

I'm going to show you four pictures of diamonds.

Some were formed naturally, miles below the surface of the Earth.

Some were grown in a lab.


Can you tell which are which?

(Answers at the bottom of the test. No peeking.)

#1:

Photo by Brilliant Earth.

#2:

Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

#3:

Photo by Farrukh/Flickr.

#4:

Photo by Brilliant Earth.

ANSWERS: #1. Lab-grown. #2. Natural. #3. Natural. #4. Lab-grown.

It's pretty hard to tell, right?

It's so hard, in fact, that unless you are a machine, you were almost definitely just guessing.

Many in the diamond industry hope that soon it will be easier to spot the difference, according to a recent report in Popular Science.

"Synthetic diamonds are 30 to 40 percent cheaper, and can be produced in a matter of months. They're so indistinguishable to the naked eye that the diamond industry is in an arms race to produce machines that can discern lab-grown from natural ones, in order to keep the synthetics from flooding the market. 'If anyone tells you they can tell the difference without the machine, they're lying,' said Ariel Baruch, a jeweler at Diamonds by Israel Standard Inc., which sells lab-grown diamonds."

Currently, there are four major ways to tell lab-grown and natural diamonds apart. But they're complicated, and you need a machine if you want to be totally sure.

The diamond industry's theory is the one that makes it the most money: Customers prefer natural diamonds and think lab-grown diamonds are "cheap" and "synthetic."

If it's easy enough to tell synthetic and real diamonds apart, the industry believes that most people will go with the typically-more-expensive natural diamond the vast majority of the time.

But! Maybe — just maybe — the diamond companies are wrong.

"We are seeing some increase in interest [in lab-grown diamonds]," said Kathryn Edison Money, vice president of strategy and merchandising at Brilliant Earth, a California-based company that specializes in both lab-grown and ethically sourced jewelry, in a conversation with Upworthy.

"The customers who are interested in lab-grown diamonds are really drawn to the fact that they don't require any diamond mining."

The business of pulling diamonds out of the ground has a long, bloody history.

A diamond mine in Sierra Leone, 2003. Photo by Desirey Minkoh/Getty Images.

Progress in curbing the worst abuses of the diamond trade has been made the last decade but only so much. The primary system implemented by the U.N. in 2003 to halt the sale of conflict diamonds, called The Kimberley Process, has a pretty spotty track record.

Many of the people and organizations that were instrumental in establishing the process in the first place have since denounced it or ceased their involvement, claiming that it hasn't been effective at best and at worst enables exactly the sort of violence and exploitation it was enacted to prevent.

The bottom line? Even with more oversight processes in place, if you're wearing a natural diamond on your finger, it's still really, really hard to know with 100% certainty that no one was exploited, maimed, or killed to get it.

Lab-grown diamonds, on the other hand, hurt pretty much no one. And they are actually, really diamonds.

Lab-grown diamonds. Shiny. Photo by Brilliant Earth.

Not cubic zirconium. Not white sapphire. Not two middle-aged grifters in a diamond suit.

100% legit diamond.

Turns out, scientists are just as good at scrunching millions of carbon atoms together as the molten inferno of the Earth's mantle. And no one has to go down into a mine to get them. You can just ... put them in a box. Right there in the lab.

"You see the same type of sparkle and crystallization and fire as a natural diamond," Money said.

Not only are lab-grown diamonds conflict- and exploitation-free, they're often less expensive than their natural counterparts.

According to a New York Times report, man-made pink diamonds from one New York retailer range in price between $9,000 and $21,000. Meanwhile, their natural counterparts can sell for over $100,000.

This is despite the fact that the synthetic diamonds are actually, no-doubt-about-it just as diamond-y.

Maybe we should hope that it does become easier to tell the difference.

It's not hard to see why the diamond industry thinks it would be a major boon for them if customers are suddenly able to make the man-made/natural distinction more easily.

But come to think of it, people probably should know for sure whether they're buying a diamond that was pulled out of the Earth or one that is the same quality as the natural stuff but that won't finance wars and didn't require slaves working in giant, ecosystem-smashing mines to dig up.

Photo by Brilliant Earth.

'Cause if consumers know, they might not make the choice the big diamond companies expect.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
True

Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

Keep Reading Show less

Of the millions of Americans breathing a sigh of relief with the ushering in of a new president, one man has a particularly personal and professional reason to exhale.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has spent a good portion of his long, respected career preparing for a pandemic, and unfortunately, the worst one in 100 years hit under the worst possible administration. As part of Trump's Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Fauci did what he could to advise the president and share information with the public, but it's been clear for months that the job was made infinitely more difficult than it should have been by anti-science forces within the administration.

To his credit, Dr. Fauci remained politically neutral through it all this past year, totally in keeping with his consistently non-partisan, apolitical approach to his job. Even when the president badmouthed him, blocked him from testifying before the House, and kept him away from press briefings, Fauci took the high road, always keeping his commentary focused on the virus and refusing to step into the political fray.

But that doesn't mean working under those conditions wasn't occasionally insulting, frequently embarrassing, and endlessly frustrating.

Keep Reading Show less
True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.