LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Many brides and grooms are considering an alternative to natural diamonds for their engagement rings: lab-grown diamonds.

Lab-grown diamonds are just like they sound, diamonds grown in a laboratory.

Rachel Akmakjian of BriteCo said purchases of lab-grown engagement rings grew from 19% in 2020 to more than 25% in 2021.

The trend is becoming so popular that major jewelry brand Pandora has recently announced it will offer lab-grown instead of natural in its North American stores. Lab-grown diamonds are significantly more affordable than their natural counterpart — given the same size, color and clarity.

While lab-grown diamonds don’t retain their value like their natural counterparts, she says many consumers feel they’re better for the environment.

“We have two parties of thought here,” Akmakjian said. “You have your lab-grown diamond people saying it’s bad to dig into the earth, bad to mine for diamonds. But then we have the natural diamond guys saying it takes an immense amount of water and energy to grow lab-grown diamonds. Until we have a non-biased party come in and survey both and quantify, we won’t know the answer to that.”

Ultimately, the decision is yours.

Akmakjian suggested consumers go to a jeweler who sells both kinds.

“Reason being, they can give you all the education you would need on both, compare them side by side for you and answer all of your questions and allow you to pick which one is best for you,” she said.