Lab Grown vs Natural Diamond Engagement Ring Options

May 27th, 2022

In the retail jewelry industry there’s an ongoing debate about the value of lab grown vs natural diamonds, especially for engagement rings.  BriteCo jewelry insurance covers both and we do not recommend one over the other, leaving it to our customers to decide for themselves what best fits their wants and needs.

In the interest of helping engaged couples make more informed decisions about their jewelry and engagement ring purchases, BriteCo has published a report that describes how consumer preferences for lab grown versus natural diamonds have changed from 2020 through 2021.

The findings from the  2021 Diamond Engagement Ring Buying Trends report will likely reinforce the observations of jewelry retailers who are adapting to changing consumer purchasing patterns on a daily basis. They know from experience that lab grown diamonds are attracting more interest than ever before. And as a result, more jewelry stores are stocking lab grown diamonds, according to InStore magazine’s October 2021 Big Survey.

Are Lab Grown Diamonds Real?

Preference for lab grown diamonds is growing

BriteCo is seeing a growth in demand in lab grown diamonds, particularly among younger customers. As more millennials and Gen Z consumers get engaged, traditional preferences around engagement rings are changing to reflect their values. But even with the growth in lab grown diamond, sales of natural or earth-mined diamonds continue to dominate. 

While the average expenditure for a diamond engagement ring rose to $7,011 in 2021, a 6.1% percent increase over the previous year, the share of lab grown diamond engagement rings grew from 19% in 2020 to more than 24% in 2021.

Chart showing increase in lab-grown diamond popularity

Do lab grown diamonds cost that much less?

Our data at BriteCo indicates that lab grown diamonds cost about 30% to 40% less than natural or earth-mined diamonds. Yet, spending for both types of diamonds rose significantly from 2020 to 2021. The average spend for a lab grown diamond engagement ring, for example, rose from $4,037 in 2020 to $4,383 in 2021, a healthy increase of 8.6%. At the same time, data showed that natural (earth-mined) diamond engagement ring spending increased from an average of $7,197 in 2020 to $8,053 in 2021, a boost of nearly 12%.

Chart showing natural diamond growth exceeded lab-grown in 2021

For some consumers and retailers, there’s still a strong preference for natural diamond engagement rings despite the higher cost. They see the natural diamond as something that implies a forever, lasting commitment. On the other hand, lab grown diamonds are frequently promoted as “sustainable” since they are man-made, created in a lab setting.

Diamond engagement rings getting larger in 2021

Whether influenced by the lack of travel or a shift in spending from experiences to luxury goods, the data shows that both natural and lab grown diamond engagement rings grew in size from 2020 to 2021. Perhaps reflecting the difference in cost, the average size of lab grown diamond engagement rings increased from 1.34 carats to nearly one and half carats while natural diamonds grew from 1.16 carats to one and a quarter carats over the same period.

Chart showing growth in carat size of natural and lab-grown diamond engagement rings
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Dustin Sitar, MBA - Director of Marketing and Operations

About the Author

Dustin Sitar is the Director of Marketing and Operations at BriteCo dedicated to consistently serving and motivating customers through education and inspiration. Prior to joining BriteCo, Dustin was a Senior Analyst on the Merchandising Strategy team at focused on bringing new products to the market. He holds an MBA in Finance from the W.P. Carey School of Business.