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Pandora lab-grown diamonds review: How do the sustainable jewels compare to the real deal?

·6-min read
<p>Launching from 6 May, prices in the collection start from £250</p> (iStock/The Independent)

Launching from 6 May, prices in the collection start from £250

(iStock/The Independent)

While diamonds may be a “girl’s best friend”, they aren’t so kind to the planet, as mining for them has a significant environmental impact.

For context, just one carat of diamonds causes up to 3.1 tonnes of earth displacement and requires 8.9 litres of fuel consumption. The ethical implications are equally as significant, as diamond mining can lead to the displacement of both people and wildlife.

These concerns have led to growing demand for artificial alternatives – with nearly 70 per cent of millennials and Generation Z now considering lab-grown stones.

One of the first major jewellery brands to pledge changes to its business and mining practices was Pandora, when it announced last year that it plans to become entirely carbon neutral by 2025. The Danish company has now revealed that it will only be using diamonds manufactured in labs going forward, as well as avoiding newly mined silver and gold in its jewellery.

As part of this pledge, Pandora has announced its first sustainably lab-created diamonds collection, launching on 6 May with prices starting from £250. From rings and earrings to necklaces and bracelets, the pieces in the collection range from 0.25 to one carat and are set only in noble metals, including yellow gold, white gold and sterling silver.

The move is a step in the right direction, as the brand’s carbon emissions are set to be cut by two thirds for silver production and more than 99 per cent for gold. Importantly, Pandora’s lab-grown stones are said to carry all the same qualities as diamonds, meaning the gems are aesthetically and physically identical to the real deal. The brand will achieve this by using technology where a hydrogen gas mixture is heated to 800C to replicate the process under the earth.

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“The need for sustainable business practices is only becoming more important, and companies must do their part in response to the climate crisis and the depletion of natural resources,” Pandora’s CEO, Alexander Lacik, adds.

But do they really look and feel as good as the real thing? We got access to the collection ahead of the launch to find out. Reviewing everything from quality and design to style and cost, read on to find our favourite pieces below.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Pandora Brilliance sparkling teardrop chain bracelet in gold with 0.50 carat

Great for everyday wear, this delicate bracelet is made up of a partly recycled gold chain and a single lab-created diamond gem that’s set in a teardrop shape. Perfect for taking you from daytime into evening, the simple chain bracelet will add a touch of shimmer to your look. With two holes for adjustments, it’s a comfortable and customisable fit too. While Pandora’s contemporary styles have won popularity with Generation Z, the more classic designs in the “brilliance” collection might cement it with others, too.

Buy now £690.00,

Pandora Brilliance pendant & necklace in gold with 0.25 carat

All the items in the collection have an infinity motif around the diamond, with this necklace complementing the gold bracelet above. Made from partly recycled gold, the 0.25 carat diamond stone set in a twisted teardrop silhouette refracted the light to the same effect as our traditional diamond necklace – with the lab process replicating the crystal lattice-like structure of mined diamonds.

Buy now £575.00,

Pandora Brilliance open bangle in white gold 0.25 carat

There’s something timeless about a bangle, whether stacked for a bohemian feel or worn alone. This Pandora style boasts a contemporary silhouette, is easily adjustable, simple to clasp on and comfortable to wear. The band is crafted from partly recycled white gold which is elevated by the lab-created 0.25 diamond jewel, set in a twisted infinity motif design.

Buy now £1090.00,

Pandora Brilliance sparkling teardrop chain bracelet with 0.1 carat

The least pricey piece in the new collection, this bracelet is crafted from partly recycled sterling silver with the added detailing of a 0.1 carat jewel set in a subtle teardrop silhouette. The dainty chain felt light on our arm and complimented other pieces when layered up. A more affordable route into lab-created diamonds, this will make a lovely gift for someone as their first fine jewellery piece or a treat to yourself on payday.

Buy now £250.00,

Pandora Brilliance ring in white gold with 1 carat

If your purse stretches, add this timeless gold ring to your collection. Though an investment, the piece feels as luxurious as the price tag suggests, as the gold band, made partially from recycled materials, is awarded nice twisted detailing while the one carat white gold jewel adds all the bells and whistles. Lightweight to wear, the twisted band accentuates the diamond which looked as shiny and refracting as the real deal.

Buy now £1290.00,

Pandora Brilliance stud earring in white gold 0.25 carat

A fun take on a classic, this earring is a nice hybrid of a stud and huggie hoop. A glitzy piece designed to be mixed and matched with other metals (the earrings are sold individually), the style is layered and slightly twisted with the 0.25 carat stone set in a delicate infinity motif. Hugging the ear, the stud give the appearance of a small hoop while the gem refracts the light beautifully. A nice alternative to your standard pair of studs.

Buy now £390.00,

Pandora Brilliance pendant & necklace in silver with 0.15 carat

Matching the silver bracelet and at a similarly more accessible price point, this necklace is a lovely everyday piece. The delicate silver chain (made partially of recycled materials) works well when layered with other pieces, but the 0.15 carat stone also speaks for itself.

The lab-grown stone boasted the same shine as our real diamond ring and the few people we asked to compare didn’t notice any difference. And considering they are 40 per cent less costly than mined stones, on average, you can’t go wrong.

Buy now £275.00,

The verdict: Pandora brilliance collection

With the lab-grown faction of the jewellery market increasing by 15 to 20 per cent annually, Pandora’s latest Brilliance collection solidifies the growing desire for ethical alternatives. These advancements from one of the biggest jewellers is a hopeful signifier of moves within the industry toward more responsible practices – and we’re here for it.

Starting from £250, the pieces don’t come cheap – but diamonds are forever and these lab-grown alternatives are made to last. Still at a fraction of the price of real diamonds, the items are both more affordable and sustainable. Appealing to millennials falling out of love with the real deal, the infinity motif throughout the collections introduces a more classic and timeless style into Pandora’s catalogue.

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