If you’re ready to get engaged and looking for the perfect ring, you may find yourself wondering about the variety of diamond options available to you and your spouse-to-be. What’s the difference between lab-grown diamonds and natural diamonds? Are lab grown diamonds “real” diamonds, or are they considered a diamond simulant or alternative? We’ve got the answers to all your questions (Spoiler alert: Yes, they’re real!) and more in our lab grown vs. natural diamond FAQ. Read on to learn everything there is to know about lab-created diamonds!
What are lab-grown diamonds?
Lab-grown or lab-created diamonds are real diamonds “grown” inside a lab using technology that simulates the naturally-occurring processes that form diamonds within the earth. These diamonds are chemically, physically and visually identical to natural diamonds—the only difference is their origin.
How are lab-grown diamonds created?
First, let’s take a quick refresher course in how naturally-mined diamonds are created. Natural diamonds are created when pure carbon undergoes intense conditions of immense pressure and high temperatures over billions of years beneath the surface of the earth. Miners then excavate the diamonds from large chunks of rock that have been brought to the surface by centuries of seismic activity.
The process of creating a lab-grown diamond mimics these conditions on a smaller scale within a laboratory setting. Labs take a “seed” of carbon, a very small piece of natural or lab-grown diamond, and subject it to either High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) or Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) processes, during which the carbon “seed” slowly forms the crystalline structure of a diamond.
How are lab-grown diamonds different from natural diamonds?
Again, lab-grown diamonds are identical in every way to natural diamonds besides the circumstances of their origin—and even that is only down to geographic location! But there are some intangible differences between the two that may have some bearing on your decision to buy a lab grown diamond vs. natural diamond. Here’s a cheat sheet for your convenience:
Lab Grown vs. Natural Diamonds
- Constructed of pure carbon atom structures.
- Available in a range of carat weights, cuts & shapes.
- Ranks a 10 on the Mohs Scale, making it the hardest gemstone.
- Features prominent visual “fire” and sparkle.
- Graded and certified through the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and International Gemological Institute (IGI).
- Lab-created diamonds can be made in a matter of weeks, while natural diamonds are formed over billions of years.
- Natural diamonds are truly one-of-a-kind, whereas lab-created diamonds are technically “mass produced.”
- Lab-created diamonds are typically priced 20-40% below the average price of a natural diamond.
- Natural diamonds increase in value over time due to their scarcity, while lab-created diamonds may decrease in value over time. Lab-created diamonds are relatively new to the market, and therefore it is not yet known how their resale value will change in the years to come.
Can you tell the difference between a lab-grown diamond and a natural diamond?
Lab-grown diamonds are virtually identical to natural diamonds. It is impossible for the untrained eye to tell that one is wearing a man-made diamond vs. a natural diamond. Even most professional jewelers cannot tell the difference without specific testing of the stone. In fact, lab-grown diamonds are so near to the “real deal” that jewelers are required to label lab-grown diamonds with laser inscriptions on the outermost edge of the stone to ensure they are not confused for natural diamonds.
How are lab-grown diamonds different from diamond simulants?
Lab-grown diamonds are real diamonds and are chemically identical to natural diamonds. Diamond simulants like cubic zirconia, moissanite, and white sapphire are not; they are chemically distinct stones that merely simulate the weight and visual properties of a diamond. Lab-grown diamonds are typically priced lower than natural diamonds but higher than diamond simulants.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of lab-grown diamonds?
Lab-grown diamonds are real diamonds, so they have all the same physical and visual advantages of a naturally-formed diamond like superior hardness and sparkle. Additionally, lab-grown diamonds are competitively priced, more eco-friendly than mined diamonds, and are ethically sourced and conflict-free.
The only disadvantage to purchasing a lab-grown diamond is the lack of rarity and, therefore, potential long-term value. Lab-grown diamonds are considered “mass produced” as the process can be replicated to create identical results; natural diamonds are truly one-of-a-kind. This means that natural diamonds are prized above lab-grown diamonds in the marketplace due to their rarity. Natural diamonds appreciate in value over time as their availability dwindles, while lab-grown diamonds are too new to the market to have a settled long-term value.
Ultimately, this means that natural diamonds are a more stable investment in terms of resale value, but if you plan on keeping your diamond forever and passing it down to the next generation, this may not have much of an impact on your decision to buy lab-grown diamonds vs. natural diamonds.
Ready to shop for diamonds?
The knowledgeable team at J.F. Kruse is excited to help you! We’ll walk you through your diamond options and help you pick the right one for you. Make an appointment with one of our friendly non-commissioned staff for your personal shopping experience today, or feel free to stop by any time!