Traditionally, prospective proposers should spend three months’ salary on an engagement ring. It should be a diamond solitaire, ideally one carat or bigger. However, in a market where many younger shoppers are struggling with student debt, concerned about housing affordability and suspicious of mined diamonds’ ethical credentials, Michael Hill has moved with the times and introduced an alternative.
Michael Hill introduced Fenix Created Diamonds for Michael Hill in October, with Westfield Newmarket the first New Zealand store to stock them. Team members from other branches are currently receiving training specific to lab diamonds.
Lab-grown diamonds are identical to mined diamonds, says Michael Hill regional manager – northern, Michael Bell.
“Traditionally, there’s been that synthetic notion with it, but in 2018, the US Federal Trade Commission ruled that a lab grown diamond and an earth diamond are chemically, optically and in physical make-up, the same.”
This ruling was a game-changer for the jewellery industry, Bell says.
“It’s no longer a synthetic diamond, it’s become a fully fledged diamond.”
Diamonds are traditionally judged on the ‘four Cs’ – cut, colour, carat and clarity – but as soon as lab diamonds were ruled to be on the same level as mined, Bell says, a fifth C was introduced: “Choice”.
Bell cites recent research indicating 70 percent of Millennial shoppers would consider purchasing a lab diamond, and says he’s noticed a rising number of ‘considered consumers’ looking into their purchases more deeply.
Lab diamonds appeal to these consumers because of their traceability, Bell says. They also mean consumers can access stones which are, on average, 25 percent larger than mined diamonds at a similar price point.
As the lab mimics the Earth’s process to create diamonds, lab diamonds emerge with different characteristics in the same way that natural mined diamonds do. Each has its own unique combinations of colour and clarity, and is graded and certified in the same way as natural diamonds.
“It’s what makes each of the diamonds unique, whether it be a lab or mined diamond,” Bell says.
Michael Hill chief executive Daniel Bracken says the company’s commitment to craftsmanship remains the same with the Fenix Created Diamonds for Michael Hill announcement.
“Our jewellery has always been made with a focus on quality, design and authenticity,” he says. “We’re looking forward to continue offering our customers a selection of choices within their price range with an assurance on quality. Whether it’s mined or created, Michael Hill offers New Zealanders crafted fine jewellery that they’ll treasure.”