Lab-created diamonds are also known as lab-grown diamonds or man-made diamonds. Since the 1950’s, manufacturers have been creating diamonds and other gemstones from a laboratory environment.
With technology improving year-after-year, they are becoming better and harder to detect even by seasoned jewelers. At some point, you have to ask yourself – what’s the difference?
A laboratory stone is required to be labeled as “synthetic” by FTC guidelines, but is something grown in a lab still as valuable and precious as a traditional diamond formed under millions of years in tremendous pressure and heat?
Read on to discover if there are differences in value & quality between lab grown diamonds and natural diamonds. Spoiler alert… There aren’t.
What Is A Lab Created Diamond?
Simply put, a lab created diamond is a diamond grown in the controlled setting of a laboratory. It has the same optical, chemical, and physical properties as a real diamond. Both lab grown diamonds and natural diamonds are real diamonds. There is nothing that differentiates them at a molecular level.
How Are Lab Created Diamonds Made?
In a laboratory, a diamond seed crystal gets vaporized, melted, or dissolved in a solution. Typically, high pressure and high heat is used to create a fully formed diamond from 3 to 30 days depending on the method used. The two most popular methods are listed below.
CVD (Chemical Vapor Deposition)
There are several methods a lab can create a diamond in an economically feasible way. One way is called Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD), in which the carbon atoms fall on seed crystals like snow to accumulate & form diamonds. The process can take 2-4 weeks. Below is an illustrative graphic:
HPHT (High Pressure High Temperature)
Diamonds take millions of years to form in the earth’s mantle under immense stress and high temperatures. In HPHT, however, the natural process of diamond creation is imitated in a short time frame (usually as soon as 3 days). Most of the time, a “cubic-presser” machine is used to produce crystals, and this process is widely used commercially.
Lab Grown Diamonds vs Mined Diamonds
There are a few differences between lab grown diamonds vs mined diamonds:
- Social Responsibility & Environmental Impact
- Cost Differences
- Quality Differences
#1 Social Responsibility & Environmental Differences
If you want to be 100% sure that your diamond has been sourced ethically and is conflict-free – a lab grown diamond will be a much safer proposition.
You can rest assured there was no environmental degradation, child enslavement or extreme working conditions in the production of your stone.
#2 Cost Differences
The price difference is usually about 20%-40% between a man-made diamond and one that is mined from the earth. Cheaper lab-grown diamonds are definitely a benefit to the consumer, provided there are no decreases in quality in color, clarity or cut.
The cost to mine diamonds is higher which drives up the price for the consumer. The capital costs for a mined diamond vs lab created diamond is roughly $367/carat vs. $343/carat.
#3 Quality Differences
Lab-grown diamonds are typically better quality, but there are some exceptions. Gems grown in a lab do still have inclusions within the stone or on the surface such as:
- Hollow Tubes
- Other crystals & more
These inclusions are common to both natural & lab-grown diamonds, and they impact the dispersion, light return, and scintillation of the stone.
One advantage for the lab-grown diamond process is there is more “diamond rough” for the diamond cutter to choose from. With more diamond rough, the lapidary can be more selective with their cut and can produce a better quality product with less inclusions.
Interested In A Lab Created Diamond?
There are several brick-and-mortar & online diamond stores that sell lab created diamonds & engagement rings.
You can usually find lab-grown rings, man-made earrings, lab-grown tennis bracelets, and lab-created diamond pennants. However, you can’t find them at every jeweler, because some jewelers believe wholeheartedly in natural diamonds. Whether the jeweler believes in the mystique of a natural diamond produced far underground, or just feels better about selling them due to remaining stigmas – each jeweler has their choice.
When push comes to shove, some jewelers would rather see the prices of diamonds stay high to help their businesses. Click the link below to find out who carries man-made diamonds:
Read More: Who sells lab grown diamonds?