Nimra Ahmed is a final year Journalism student at Technological University Dublin. She opted for the magazine project. Nimra was the social media editor. Her first task was to get individual pictures of everyone on the team. Nimra then created and maintained the Amárach Instagram page announcing the arrival of the magazine. She also had to edit two articles and she managed to get two advertisements as well. As a journalist there are many venues open, she thoroughly enjoyed researching and writing about arts, beauty, current affairs, fashion, and travel.  

Sparkling Synthetic Diamonds

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Jewellery, too, has taken an unexpected but economical route, particularly the unique and intriguing engagement ring. Lab grown diamonds are the cost-effective solution without compromising on quality.  

Carbon deposits found below the earth’s surface crystallise due to intense heat and pressure to form diamond rocks. These are then transported close to the earth’s surface by volcanic eruptions. The diamonds are mined by removing them from the magma.   

‘Lab-grown or synthetic diamonds’ are also real diamonds. However, they are created in a specialised foundry or laboratory that replicates the natural processes of combining carbon with heat and pressure like mined diamonds.   

Production of cultured diamonds is categorised as either high-pressure -high-temperature (HPHT) or chemical vapour deposition (CVD). The HPHT method uses a diamond seed or a very small diamond placed into a piece of carbon. Then this carbon is pressurised and heated to temperatures over 1482 degrees Centigrades. These conditions melt the carbon, forming a bigger, newer diamond. This is then carefully cooled.  

Like HPHT, CVD also uses a diamond seed. It is placed inside a sealed chamber that is heated to 760 degrees Centigrade and filled with carbon-rich gases (methane and hydrogen). These gases are then ionised into plasma which breaks down the molecular bond of the gas. Pure carbon begins to stick to the seed and a new diamond forms.  

In a matter of weeks, the diamond grows in its own way, with a one-of-a-kind pattern. There is also no visual difference between natural or cultured diamonds. These synthetic diamonds have virtually the same chemical composition, crystal structure, optical and physical properties as a natural diamond. 

This budget-friendly and sustainable option is considered the more ethical and environmentally friendly choice. Lab-grown diamonds also provide full traceability and the reassurance that they are created with little to zero carbon footprint. Pricewise, a man-made diamond is nearly 50% lower than a comparable natural diamond. ‘Blood diamonds’ are natural diamonds linked to child labour, poor working conditions, human rights violations and fund armed conflicts in war-torn areas.  

Just like a natural diamond, each synthetic diamond is cut and polished to perfect proportions to maximise brilliance and is graded by a gemmologist, according to the strictest professional standards. Lab-grown diamonds are also recognised by the International Gemological Institute (IGI).  Synthetic diamonds like natural diamonds, are graded by the 4Cs - cut, colour, clarity and carat (unit weight used to measure the size). The cost of any diamond, be it natural or synthetic, is dependent on all four factors.  

Amárach spoke with Áine Commins, the co-owner and director of the Award-Winning Dublin-based jewellers, Commins and Co. and Bespoke Diamonds -the pioneers in ethically sourced diamonds in Ireland. They shifted to lab-grown diamonds over 10 years ago, priding themselves as being at the forefront of this monumental change in the Irish industry. Since the demand has increased for lab grown diamonds, they have branched out into other lab grown gemstones, like sapphires, emeralds and rubies. Breaking into a saturated market is not easy. Today’s informed consumer will first check online reviews, or by word-of-mouth to find reputable jewellers as they are spending a substantial amount. Over 60% of their business comes through recommendations and that is no match for online sellers or pop-up shops. 
There is a misconception that sustainable brands are also less cost effective, but the opposite is true for gems. Technology has progressed making it possible for sustainable, raw materials to be used more cost effectively. 
“While many jewellers continue with the ‘this is how we always did it’ mentality, Commins and Co. have always had a ‘we can do better’ mindset,” said Áine Commins, the co-owner  of Commins and Co. and Bespoke Diamonds. 
“We also take pride in our processes and methods of production to ensure costs are controlled so we offer the benefit of both sustainability and affordability. The reality is that Millennials and Gens X and Y were not happy with how the jewellery industry operated in the past. Gen Z won't accept the old ways of doing things. Sustainability is the future for all businesses and those that don't make the necessary changes will be left behind,” Commins explained. 
With the explosion of all kinds of technology, comes a flood of Asian online sites also promoting lab-grown diamonds. This has an impact on the jewellery trade here in Ireland. In Commins’ opinion, “the cheap materials used by online sellers, and sold without warranty or service options, means they cannot be expected to last more than a couple of years. However, people want to be sure what they choose will last, particularly engagement rings and fine jewellery. Customers appreciate quality because they can hand it down to their children and grandchildren,” Commins said.  
Discussing Covid, Commins said, “our products are priced to be attainable - we have quality engagement rings starting from under €1,000. During Covid, people were not meeting or getting married. So, our main business was set back significantly, although we made it through with some adjustment in how we offered our services. 
Their store has also weathered inflation well, Commins revealed “Inflation, the war and the energy crisis have all caused prices to increase but we have managed to avoid this through streamlining our services and production. As we make our own products in-house, we have a lot more control over the entire process than many jewellers, so we are lucky in that way,” Commins added.  
A happy customer shopping at Cahill Jewellers whole-heartedly also supported buying synthetic diamonds. “Recently, there has been an explosion of synthetic diamonds on the market. They are pocket-friendly and ethically sourced. The naked eye can’t tell the difference in the shine and quality. They do stand the test of time, just like true love and natural diamonds. I have had mine for nearly 28 years. I plan on passing it down to my granddaughter,” said Fiona Walsh (55).  

Commins and Co are located at Unit 23N Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, 59 William St S, Dublin, D02 HY24. For more information visit  

BeSpoke Diamonds are located at 33 Kildare St, Dublin 2, D02 YD95. For more information visit  

The Kind

Sustainable products provide environmental, social and economic benefits whilst protecting public health and the environment at all stages-from the extraction of raw materials until the final disposal. 

Now more than ever, awareness of finite resources is extensive. Yet, the co - relation between us, these resources and the future is still a bit skewed.  

We are all familiar with the three R’s of sustainability: reduce, reuse and recycle. We are aware that the aim of these is to prevent waste and conserve natural resources for future generations. Elimination of plastic use is the most common form of sustainability that springs to our minds.  
Sustainable products are produced in smaller quantities and are of a better quality. The raw materials are more expensive because they are not mass produced and have a lesser impact on the environment. This affects the cost which is usually higher than conventional products. 
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2020 Ireland produced 1,118,596 tonnes of packaging waste. This includes paper and cardboard, plastic, glass, wood, metal, and textiles. The total amount of plastic was 306,000 tonnes (27%). 
Sheelin Conlon, the founder of a sustainable lifestyle store, The Kind, named her brand simply, because it was just that: kind to the mind, body and planet. She started her business in 2019 after coming back home. She stocks over a hundred brands from sustainable like-minded independent businesses with the same vision of a better, more sustainable future. 

The concept of The Kind came about while Conlon was living in Singapore. She was a keen kite surfer and spent a lot of time by the ocean. She saw first-hand the devastation of plastic pollution on the beaches around Asia.  

“Plastic would be washed up all along the shorelines and dumped at the sides of the road. There is a huge problem with the mismanagement of waste in Indonesia, it’s the second largest contributor to plastic pollution after China. It made me think of my own impact on the environment,” said Conlon. 
“Once I became more aware of this and realised that I could make a positive impact by making simple sustainable swaps, I wanted to help others reduce their plastic pollution and live more consciously too,” said Conlon.  
While discussing sustainability, her products and her vision; she had a clear-cut goal that echoes her brand. 
“For me, sustainability is all about living more mindfully and being more conscious about the products that you're using and the choices that you're making. The products that I stock in my store are designed to make you feel good knowing that you're also doing good, and having a positive impact,” said Conlon.  
To know whether a product is really eco-friendly one has to analyse the life-cycle (Life cycle assessment or LCA), which is the product’s raw material extraction, to its making and then packaging, use and finally the disposal. Look at the company, does it have the net green approach?  
The future seems unsure for this young, aspiring idealist!  
“Unfortunately, what appears to be ‘sustainable’ is often not! Many companies are greenwashing - we see this particularly when it comes to fashion, cosmetics and personal care products,” said Conlon.  
Greenwashing is the process when companies give false or misleading information about environmentally safe products. The company makes a claim to deceive buyers into believing that their products are environmentally friendly through imagery, misleading labels and hiding trade-offs. 
“It's very hard to remain competitive and almost impossible to compete on price with big corporations,” said Conlon. Every field has some hurdles. Conlon feels, “competition from corporations and greenwashing” are deterrents to progress. 
Her plans are geared towards having an extremely positive impact on people and the planet through wellness, communication and connecting people with their minds, bodies and the planet. 
“My focus has been more on wellness the last year, if you're not taking care of yourself then you probably won't be motivated to take care of the planet. I'm looking at hosting more mindful wellness events to reconnect people to themselves and to inspire them to want to make a positive impact around them too,” said Conlon. 
Unfortunately, The Kind had to shut down in March 2023 due to the increase of supplier costs. 
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