Differences Between Lab-Grown and Natural Diamonds


When we talk about the difference between lab diamonds and real diamonds, it’s crucial to understand some facts. Lab diamonds are indeed real diamonds. The only difference is that they are made in labs by people, instead of naturally forming deep in the Earth over millions of years. So, what makes lab diamonds different from real ones? Let’s explore the answers to this million-dollar question.

Are lab-grown diamonds the same as natural ones?

Yes, lab-grown diamonds are real diamonds and have the same characteristics as natural ones. You can’t tell them apart without special equipment, and they mainly differ in price and ethics. Lab diamonds have become popular only recently, despite being developed 70 years ago, thanks to better production methods that ensure high quality.

Most people prefer lab diamonds because they’re cheaper and ethically made. However, some people are not sure if lab-grown diamonds will hold their value or be as romantic as natural diamonds. So, the debate isn’t really about lab diamonds versus natural diamonds—since both are real—it’s about cost and ethics versus romance. What’s more important to you?

What makes a synthetic diamond and a real diamond different?

Natural diamonds and lab diamonds look the same once they’re cut, but they differ in price and how they’re made. Natural diamonds are created over billions of years under the Earth’s surface, where intense heat and pressure turn carbon into sparkling gems. In contrast, lab diamonds are made in just weeks using similar conditions of heat and pressure, created through methods called CVD and HPHT in a lab setting.

Do lab-grown diamonds test as real?

Yes, lab diamonds are real diamonds because they have the same chemical makeup as natural diamonds. But you need special lab equipment to tell them apart from natural ones.

When they are uncut, CVD, HPHT, and natural diamonds all look different from each other. But once cut, only special equipment that detects nitrogen can tell them apart—lab diamonds have no nitrogen, while natural diamonds have tiny amounts.

Lab diamonds are 60% to 85% cheaper than natural diamonds because natural diamonds take billions of years to form and are costly to mine. Producing lab diamonds uses less land and reduces the risk of buying a blood diamond, though the chance is already very low.

Are lab-grown diamonds certified?

Definitely! Gemmologists suggest you choose lab diamonds that are certified by either the IGI or GIA. GIA grades lab diamonds rigorously, similar to natural diamonds, and has been doing so since 2007. They evaluate diamonds based on color, clarity, and cut, but use descriptive terms rather than specific grades like ‘VS2’ for clarity or ‘D’ for color. On the other hand, IGI uses the standard grading terms, which some people prefer.

Both IGI and GIA engrave a unique number on the diamond’s edge (visible with 50x magnification) that matches the certification number, detailing the diamond’s grades. IGI also adds ‘lab grown’ next to the inscription.

Why are lab diamonds cheaper?

Lab diamonds are cheaper because they are quicker and less costly to produce. Making a lab diamond only takes a few weeks with a small expert team, unlike natural diamonds, which take billions of years to form and require large-scale mining operations involving lots of land, infrastructure, and workers. After the initial investment in technology, a lab can keep producing diamonds, while a natural diamond mine will eventually run out, requiring more land for mining.

However, it’s important to note that natural diamond mining supports many jobs in mining-dependent communities. The high cost of natural diamonds reflects their rarity and the significant effort and resources required to extract them. So, lab diamonds don’t reduce the value of natural diamonds, which are seen as a unique product of nature.

Are they only stimulants?

Lab diamonds are real diamonds created in a lab, different from diamond simulants like moissanites and cubic zirconia. These stimulants look like diamonds but have a different chemical composition. Both lab diamonds and natural diamonds have the same chemical makeup, making them true diamonds. Simulants often differ in appearance, especially in their sparkle, which isn’t as bright or clear as that of a real diamond.

Lab-Grown Diamonds vs. CZ

Cubic zirconia (CZ) is created in a lab but it is different from a lab diamond. CZ is a separate type of gem that’s much cheaper and has different properties from diamonds. It’s often colorless and looks perfect, but it scratches easily and doesn’t sparkle as brightly as diamonds. CZ’s sparkle has a rainbow color that can look artificial, and although it starts off colorless, it can turn yellow as it ages.

Lab-Grown Diamonds vs. Moissanite

Moissanite is a gemstone that used to be found in nature but is now also made in labs. While it’s also lab-grown, like diamonds, moissanite is different. It’s a hard gemstone with high clarity but often has a gray, brown, yellow, or greenish tint. Moissanite has a bright, rainbow-like sparkle that can make it look fake. A major downside is that moissanite can appear fuzzy or hazy because it bends light twice; this effect becomes more noticeable in larger stones.

Are lab diamonds more sustainable?

Creating lab diamonds requires a lot of energy, but makers are improving the process to use less time and resources. It was once said that making a lab diamond needed 250 kWh of energy, but now some producers can do it with just 20 kWh.

Lab diamonds use land more sustainably than mined diamonds. Mining requires large areas and involves digging up the land, whereas a lab for diamonds takes up little space and needs no mining.

Lab diamond producers are also starting to use renewable energy more often. Many producers are using solar power or finding ways to offset their carbon emissions. As demand for eco-friendly diamonds grows, it’s expected that labs will continue to find greener ways to make diamonds.

Overall, lab diamonds are considered much more sustainable than mined diamonds, and this is expected to improve as technology advances.

Opting for Lab Diamonds Over Real Ones for Practicality

Consider choosing a lab-grown diamond for your next jewelry purchase. These diamonds are real, beautiful, cheaper, and better for the environment. Choosing a lab diamond saves you money and helps the planet. Embrace the future of sustainable luxury without compromising on quality or ethics.

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