Pandora Brilliance Lab-Grown Diamond Review (2022)
Pandora Brilliance Lab-Grown Diamonds$$
- Strong dedication to lab-grown diamonds
- Market-leader on sustainability
- Fairly good prices
- Unique and beautiful designs
- Very limited selection
- Fairly good prices
- Not possible to inspect diamonds
- Not possible to find any diamonds
Summary of Pandora Lab-Grown Diamond Review
Pandora has been one of the fastest-growing jewelry brands in the past decades and has grown to become the world’s largest jewelry manufacturer. Pandora has expanded at a rapid pace, and you’ll find their stores across malls, shopping centers, airports, and pretty much wherever you turn your head. In addition, their jewelry is sold by individual jewelers, adding enormously to their customer reach.
Pandora traditionally caters to the lower to mid-tiers of the market and normally would not target consumers looking for diamond jewelry. Most of their pieces retail for $100 or less (especially their modular jewelry), while some of their collections can be more expensive.
However, Pandora has launched a diamond jewelry “Brilliance” collection. In 2021, Pandora announced that they would exclusively use lab-grown diamonds in their diamond jewelry. While the Brilliance Collection is only available in the UK, it is expected to become available globally in 2022, and we’re intrigued by Pandora’s strategic and very wise decision. At the time of this 2022 Pandora Brilliance review, the collection is still not launched in the US.
And not only is Pandora exclusively using lab-created diamonds in their Brilliance collection, they even made their production process certified carbon neutral (detailed pdf reports). Currently, the lab-grown diamond production is run by approximately 60% renewables, and until they reach their stated target of 100%, they offset the remaining 40%. This is similar to the approach Brilliant Earth is taking.
In addition, they have announced another target of only using recycled gold in their jewelry by 2025—lofty targets, which puts them ahead of most of the competition.
That’s why we decided to have a closer look and review Pandora Brilliance Lab-Grown Diamonds.
The question is, are their diamond jewelry offerings on par with the leading sellers of lab-created diamonds such as James Allen, Clean Origin, or Ritani? Or are they comparable with low-rated Zales and Lightbox Jewelry?
We’ll go much more into detail in our Pandora Brilliance lab-grown diamond review. If you just want to get to the conclusion, you can skip straight to the review verdict. To remove some of your curiosity, here’s the short of it:
While Pandora Brilliance may not stack up to our favorite lab-created diamond sellers, they are heaps and bounds ahead of the competition in their field.
So if we assess Pandora as a diamond jeweler, they are not a class leader. But suppose we review Pandora as someone who cares more about the jewelry design (and sustainability) and less about finding the perfect diamond to complement it. In that case, Pandora is an excellent choice.
In the fashion jewelry category, Pandora is the clear leader and choice for anyone valuing design over diamond quality.LabGrownCarats.com
3 diamond jewelers we like better than Pandora Jewelry
Keep reading our Pandora Brilliance Lab-Grown Diamond review to learn why we think Pandora currently is the leading fashion jewelry lab-grown diamond seller.
- Pandora’s Lab-Grown Diamond History
- Pandora lab-grown diamonds
- Pandora Brilliance lab-grown diamond selection
- Pandora Brilliance lab-grown diamond buying experience
- Pandora Brilliance lab-grown diamond inspection
- Pandora Brilliance Lab-Grown Diamond Quality
- Pandora Brilliance lab-grown diamond prices
- Pandora Brilliance shipping and returns
- Pandora Brilliance lab-grown diamond review verdict
- Don’t just take our word for it
Pandora’s Lab-Grown Diamond History
Pandora Jewelry has been around for decades, but their successful modular jewelry really took off in the 2000s and 2010s. Today, Pandora’s charms are ubiquitous, and their stores are in every mall.
Pandora has done a few bright things over the years. First, their charms and modular jewelry, together with partnerships with Disney, the Harry Potter Franchise, and more, made consumers come back, expanding the lives of their jewelry pieces considerably.
Second, early on, they set up production in Thailand and, through vertical integration, closely controlled their costs, supply chains, and logistics.
Lastly, disregarding the Brilliance Collection, Pandora has focused on pieces, gemstones, and synthetic stones that are cheap to produce and source. This way, they have been able to mass-market their products, keep costs low and margins high (which they have spent on marketing).
Their story is a little rocky, and they’ve had their ups and downs, but today Pandora is the largest producer of jewelry globally.
Again, Pandora’s customers are usually not looking for $1,000 diamond pieces but rather 1/10th of that. So this is new territory and their diamond jewelry sales, while new, only represent a small fraction of their revenue. Nonetheless, their exclusive use of lab-grown diamonds, coupled with their relentless pursuit of sustainability, make them very interesting.
Pandora lab-grown diamonds
We can’t hide that we’re pretty excited that the largest producer of jewelry in the world has announced they will not only exclusively sell lab-created diamonds but also aim to grow these based on 100% renewable energy (and, in the meantime, carbon offset).
While carbon offsetting is far from perfect, and the usage of renewables could just force someone else to buy dirty energy, it’s an important signal and something only possible with lab-grown diamonds. At the same time, the use of lab-created diamonds is also the only guaranteed way to avoid negative societal impact (unlike mined diamonds).
You can learn much more in our article about the benefits of lab-grown diamonds and why you should avoid mined.
Pandora spends a great deal of real estate on their website educating their users about lab-grown diamonds. And they manage to do it very well, with short-form videos and easily digestible information explaining the benefits, the 4Cs, etc. So while it’s not in-depth, it’s accurate and honest, unlike, for example, Lightbox Jewelry (aka DeBeers), who gets it mostly wrong in their efforts to discredit lab-created diamonds.
Pandora has even hired a celebrity to endorse their Pandora Brilliance lab-grown diamond selection, with several videos featuring said person and a cute story.
So, all in all, we’re impressed with their dedication to lab-grown diamonds and drumming up support for the better diamond choice.
Pandora Brilliance lab-grown diamond selection
Their dedication is all good and well, but do their brilliance lab-grown diamond offerings stack up?
First of all, Pandora’s Brilliance collection and their approach to jewelry, in general, are fashion jewelry. They are not traditional jewelers like Zales or online diamond jewelers such as James Allen or Clean Origin.
Instead, Pandora and their Brilliance jewelry are very similar to that of Lightbox Jewelry. Unfortunately, that means you cannot design and create your own pieces or pick the exact diamonds you want. Instead, you have to make do with the designs and pre-selected options available on their site.
So right off the bat, Pandora is not the right place to go if you are a serious diamond jewelry buyer and want to maximize what you get for your money or get the perfect diamond.
Therefore, we’ll not be comparing Pandora to the likes of James Allen, Clean Origin, or Ritani, and not even pre-selected offerings such as With Clarity or Ada diamonds. Instead, we’ll try our best to review Pandora Brilliance as a fashion jeweler expanding into higher-end, and very importantly, lab-created diamonds.
As of the time of the review, Pandora has 40 different designs to choose between. This includes carat weight and material variations, so the choices really are minimal. In addition, there are no traditional designs such as classic martini diamond studs.
All designs are bespoke, and this is probably also what you would expect from Pandora. Lightbox is the same, but our personal preferences are more towards the designs of Pandora than Lightbox. Their designs are a little more clever and thoughtful, while Lightbox Jewelry’s are more, well, distinct.
You are not able to select anything else but design, material, and carat weight. So forget about following our buying tips to maximize value for money. The carat weights run from 0.15 to 1.00. It’s unclear if these weights are precise. They likely include some margin of error but perhaps less than what Zales does.
So let’s see what the actual buying experience and diamond inspection options are like.
Pandora Brilliance lab-grown diamond buying experience
There really isn’t that much more to the buying experience. Once you have selected a design, you might be able to choose carat weight or material depending on the specific product.
Pandora does give you the option to not pay in full by using either of 3 different services. (If you don’t have the funds available now, then maybe just wait.) And you can also decide to collect at a nearby store (more on shipping later). That’s it.
Pandora Brilliance lab-grown diamond inspection
If you have read any of our other lab-grown diamond reviews or our buying guides, you’ll know that diamond inspection is key to securing the perfect diamond and avoiding ending up with a disappointing purchase.
This, however, is not an option at Pandora. This is precisely the same with Lightbox Jewelry who also sells fashion jewelry. And also with Zales, although they are supposedly are a traditional jeweler. So while we were very disappointed at the lack of inspection features at Zales, we were kind of expecting it with Pandora.
Since you cannot pick a specific diamond, a diamond inspection would not make any sense. However, they do attempt to show generic images.
So if you are in the market for the perfect diamond for you, and the diamond is at least as important as the jewelry design, then you should follow our diamond buying guides and shop at one of our recommended lab-grown diamond jewelry sellers.
If, instead, you focus primarily on the jewelry design, perhaps Pandora Brilliance may still be something for you. That said, you should not settle for anything.
Fortunately, Pandora does give some indication of what you are buying. And unlike Zales and Lightbox, they not only tell you upfront what the diamond cut grade is. They also only sell the highest-grade cut diamonds (more on that below). Pandora also is transparent with diamond clarity and color, the remaining of the 4Cs.
So let’s dig into the grades.
Pandora Brilliance Lab-Grown Diamond Quality
As you can see from the below product information sheet, the lab-created diamonds that Pandora supplies are graded excellent for cut and at least VS2 for clarity.
Hopefully, you know that diamond cut is by far the most important of all qualities of a diamond. If not, we urge you to dig deeper into our quick intro to lab-created diamonds. In short, you should always pick the highest grade.
However, depending on the grading institute, that grade can be either excellent or ideal. Notably, the leading lab-grown diamond grading institute IGI uses ideal as the best grade. Pandora claims that their excellent cut diamonds are of the highest grade. That tells us that Pandora either doesn’t have their diamonds grading by the leading lab-grown diamond institute or, worse, doesn’t actually carry the highest grade.
We think it’s the former. And that may be fine. There are other reliable grading laboratories than IGI. What does worry us is that Pandora does not reveal which institutes they use.
So, in short, we applaud and are encouraged by their dedication to always choosing the highest cut grade but would have liked to know who grades their homework.
When it comes to clarity, the VS2 grade will often be a great choice. We recommend starting even lower but being very careful to examine the actual blemishes and inclusions that have resulted in the grade. That is something you can do when you shop at leading sellers such as Clean origin or James Allen (in particular).
It’s thus the same story with diamond clarity as it was with the cut. So again, the VS2 grade is likely a good fit, but you can’t be 100% sure that the particular imperfections do not have an outsized negative impact on the diamond’s brilliance.
Lastly, Pandora states that their lab-grown diamonds are at least graded a “J” color. Again, this is in line with our overall recommendations. You will typically save a lot of allowing a slight tint that will not harm brilliance or even be noticeable outside a laboratory microscope.
In rare cases, the tint could influence the brilliance or be noticeable, even with an acceptable J color grade. Thus, for the most part, grading institutes can be trusted, variance does occur. Therefore, our recommendation is always to carry out a thorough inspection to ensure that the diamond shines its brightest.
Pandora does include a diamond certificate from the (undisclosed) grading laboratory that they use. They do not make these available online like the best jewelers, but they would also not be able to since you are not buying a specific diamond. Instead, you have to wait until your jewelry arrives, along with the certificate. Not ideal, but to be expected with this setup.
Pandora Brilliance lab-grown diamond prices
Now that we know that Pandora sells high-grade lab-created diamonds, at least on paper, that generally have great excellent grading, we can start to examine their prices.
Since the Pandora Brilliance Lab-Grown Diamond collection is not available outside the UK yet, we’ll be covering their British Pound prices to US Dollars. However, do note that once they start to sell in the US, prices may be different.
As a reference, we’re comparing a 1-carat ring and a 1-carat total weight diamond earring set (the latter means 2 x 0.5 carat). We’re using the lower end of Pandora’s grades since that’s all you are guaranteed to receive.
A set of 1-carat total weight earrings currently cost £1,290 and, somewhat surprisingly, the 1-carat ring costs precisely the same £1,290 (bigger stones are more expensive per carat than smaller since they are rarer – even if created in a laboratory).
While we can’t compare 1:1 since Pandora’s designs arguably are more worth than the more traditional that Clean Origin or James Allen sells, it’s still a decent proxy comparison.
The cost at Clean Origin for similar 1-carat diamond earrings (same diamond grades) is around $1,050 and $1.250 for a 1-carat ring. So if it weren’t for the differences in currency, prices would be on par. But, unfortunately, £1,290 at present is equal to $1,775. And that’s a bit of a jump.
Ritani, another price-leader, similarly comes in around $1,050 for a pair of earrings and an even lower $1,200 for the 1-carat ring.
At the time of the review, James Allen did not have any comparable lab-grown diamonds since their color grades typically start higher. However, with higher color grades and the same cut, clarity, and carat, their prices are around $2-300 lower than Pandora. If we add a premium to Pandora’s unique design, prices start to come closer. Do note that it’s not exactly apples-to-apples as James Allen offers industry-leading features, support, and service).
So in comparison to the other mall-favorite, Zales, Pandora’s prices are very reasonable. They don’t drop to the attention-seeking levels of Lightbox Jewelry (with their uncertain diamond quality) and are not nearly as attractive as those of our favorite lab-grown diamond sellers. However, if you value Pandora’s design, their prices are not that much higher, and we’re actually a little surprised that they are relatively close to those of James Allen.
Pandora Brilliance shipping and returns
Currently, Pandora’s lab-grown diamonds are only sold in the UK. So while we wait for the global availability sometime in 2022, we’ll focus on the shipping and returns in the UK for Pandora’s Brilliance Collection. We presume that terms will be similar when rolled out to the US.
First, shipping on Pandora Brilliance jewelry is free of charge using a “special delivery” option. That’s a nice touch and something Zales could learn from. But also something that should be expected. Shipping of diamond jewelry is next-day delivery, and in the US, we would expect the same, and likely with UPS or FedEx.
Returns are allowed up to 30 days, which is pretty standard and expected in the US. It’s far from Clean Origin’s 100 days, but it’s decent, and it’s free. So no complaints there.
Where Pandora does stand out a little is in their packaging. They use 100% recycled boxes and materials and even further ensure that the materials used are biodegradable and do not use excessive colors and other potential pollutants. Well done, Pandora.
Pandora Brilliance lab-grown diamond review verdict
If we review Pandora as a lab-grown diamond jeweler and compare them to the likes of Clean Origin, Ritani, or James Allen, then Pandora and the Brilliance collection do not come out on top. Pandora does not extend the ability to carry out diamond inspections or even tell you precisely what diamond you are buying.
However, Pandora Brilliance should probably not be compared to a diamond jeweler but instead assessed as the creator and seller of fashion jewelry that Pandora is, similarly to Lightbox (who, however, tried to be both).
Pandora’s prices also run a little higher than those of the market leaders but not by as much as we might have feared and certainly very far from the exorbitant prices that Zales carries.
So as a design-first fashion jeweler who’s venturing into the lab-grown diamond space, we actually think Pandora does a pretty decent job.
If we consider the strong commitment to sustainability, an area where they arguably are among the very best, and their dedication to lab diamonds, then our final verdict of Pandora Brilliance lab-grown diamonds is actually reasonably favorable. However, consider the sustainably graded lab-grown diamonds from Brilliant Earth.
In the end, the conclusion to our Pandora Brilliance lab-grown diamond review lands us at a review score of 3.9 out of 5 stars. And while that may not seem that impressive, it actually is an excellent score in a field of formidable competitors.
In the fashion jewelry category (that we just invented), Pandora is the clear leader and choice for anyone valuing design over diamond quality, but who still won’t settle with the sub-par and semi-undisclosed quality of Lightbox or the absurd prices you find at Zales.
Read our other lab-grown diamond reviews if you do care about finding the perfect diamond. Then, start by seeing who we recommend as the 4 best places to shop for lab-created diamonds.
Don’t just take our word for it
Interestingly, we landed close to the rating found at Trustpilot for Pandora (UK). However, those reviews are not specifically for the Pandora Brilliance Collection.