Diamonds are undeniably beautiful and precious, but did you know that there are two different types of diamonds on the market today? While one type is naturally mined from deep within the Earth’s rocky terrain, the other is lab-grown via sophisticated engineering processes. If you have been wondering what sets these two diamond varieties apart, then read on to find out! In this blog post, we will compare natural diamonds against their lab-grown counterparts in terms of cost and quality – so that by the end of it you can make an informed decision about which one is right for your next jewelry purchase.
Here’s a summary of what we’re covering today:
- What are diamonds, and where do they come from and how are they made?
- Are lab-grown diamonds real?
- Are there any downsides to lab-grown diamonds compared to natural ones?
- Which type of diamond is right for you – lab-grown or natural?
- How can you tell the difference between a lab-grown diamond and a natural one, if they look so similar on the surface?
- Natural vs lab-grown diamond pricing
- Where to buy lab-grown diamonds?
What are diamonds, where do they come from, and how are they made?
We’ll start by taking a look at what diamonds are, and where they come from. Natural diamonds are formed deep within the Earth’s mantle, over millions of years of intense heat and pressure. They consist of pure carbon atoms that have been arranged in a unique atomic structure, giving them their signature hardness and sparkle. While the majority of diamonds are mined from kimberlite deposits in Africa, diamonds can also be found in Canada, Brazil and India.
Laboratory-made diamonds are crafted in an environment that mirrors their natural creation process beneath the Earth’s mantle. These lab diamonds can be fashioned using two distinct methods: CVD (chemical vapour deposition) and HPHT (high-pressure high temperature). Both of these processes have demonstrated to produce genuine, top tier stones that parallel those located in nature.
Through the process of CVD diamond creation, a small piece of diamond is put into an enclosed space and exposed to carbon-rich gas. After being heated to absurdly high temperatures, particles from the gas ionise and attach themselves onto the original slice over several weeks before finally solidifying into a complete gemstone.
Through HPHT, pure carbon is put through extreme heat and pressure inside a metal cube using electric pulses. Subsequently, the carbon disintegrates into diamond form. Traces of metal found in diamonds created with this process are usually minimal to undetectable by unaided sight.
It is widely accepted by specialists that HPHT diamonds are far superior in quality to CVD diamonds. Rapidly grown CVDs may contain internal marks and graining, as well as a brownish hue which calls for further treatment after growth to heighten their beauty. In contrast, HPHT ones usually come out of the oven at such a high standard they do not require any post-growth modifications.
Similar to their natural counterparts, laboratory diamonds are subjected to rigorous grading during certification from organizations like GIA and IGI. This enables you access to the same cut, color, and clarity selection criteria as with a premium-quality natural diamond – so that your lab diamond is just as ravishing.
Are lab-grown diamonds real?
Now let’s move onto the second question: Are lab-grown diamonds real? Yes, lab-grown diamonds are real – they may not have been formed naturally over millions of years, but they contain the same chemical composition, properties and structure as mined diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds may also come in a variety of colors, depending on what is being grown.
For decades, lab diamonds were present in the jewelry world but not widely celebrated. Recently, however, advancements in production have allowed for a greater quality of diamond that has made them far more popular and sought after than ever before. Now you can get your hands on breathtakingly beautiful lab diamonds with ease!
Are there any downsides to lab-grown diamonds compared to natural ones?
Though both types of diamonds are real, it’s important to note that natural diamonds tend to be much rarer and, as such, generally command a higher price. Lab-grown diamonds, on the other hand, are usually more affordable than their mined counterparts – so if you’re looking for an affordable option, a lab-grown diamond could be worth considering. Reselling lab diamonds can also be difficult as they lose a lot of their value. Lab-grown diamonds can also have post growth treatements. These treatments can potentially alter the diamond on a submicroscopic level. The most discriminating buyers of lab-grown diamonds demand ‘as grown’ laboratory diamonds.
Which type of diamond is right for you – lab-grown or natural?
To help you decide between a lab-grown and natural diamond, ask yourself these questions: Are cost and rarity important to you? If so, then a mined diamond may be the better choice. If price is your top priority, then a lab-grown diamond might work out in your favor.
How can you tell the difference between a lab-grown diamond and a natural one, if they look so similar on the surface?”
Finally, it’s worth noting that lab-grown diamonds look identical to natural ones; so much so that a diamond tester can’t tell them apart. As such, the only way to positively identify a lab-grown diamond is to have it certified by an independent laboratory. If you’re looking to buy a lab diamond, make sure it is laser inscribed with the laboratory report number and explicitly states that it was created in a lab. With just 10X magnification from a jewelry loupe, you can rest assured knowing your diamond has been positively identified for added peace of mind.
Natural vs lab-grown diamond pricing
|Ideal (hearts & arrows)
|Ideal (hearts & arrows)
As we can see from the table above lab-grown diamonds are considerably cheaper, however, this means you can always put your hard-earned savings into purchasing that dream designer engagement ring, or perhaps a pair of diamond earrings.
The reason the price of lab-grown diamonds is so much lower is because of the production process. Lab-grown diamonds are created in a controlled environment, where conditions can be closely monitored and manipulated for the desired outcome. This eliminates many of the costs associated with mining natural diamonds. Compared to natural diamonds, which take billions of years to form and need extensive land mass, infrastructure and workforce for mining, lab-created diamonds can be fashioned in a fraction of the time by just one laboratory with a small but highly skilled team. In fact, it takes only a few weeks!
Even though lab diamond creation is far more cost-effective than mining for diamonds, it is critical to understand the number of people who depend on ethically mined diamonds in their community. Diamond mines provide valuable jobs and incomes that would otherwise be impossible without them.
When you think about it, the investment of time and resources that goes into finding a natural diamond justifies its cost. That’s why lab diamonds don’t diminish the value of those found in nature — because they are priced according to different criteria altogether. In addition to this the re-sale cost of a lab diamond is very low, if you’re ever looking to upgrade or sell your diamond on in the future please bear this in mind.
Where to buy lab-grown diamonds?
With all this information in mind, you should now be ready to make an informed decision about which diamond is the best choice for you. I’ve written a post about the best places to buy lab created diamonds.
Whether you decide on a lab-grown or mined diamond, we hope that this guide has provided you with all the information needed to make your purchase with confidence!
I’m Louis Jacobs, the creator of Diamond Expert, a platform where I share my lifetime’s knowledge of diamonds. Born and raised in Antwerp, Belgium, the world’s diamond hub, my fascination with these precious gems began at a young age. I spent over three decades in the diamond industry, earning the reputation of a trusted advisor among friends and family for diamond purchases, particularly engagement rings. Now retired, I’m dedicated to providing online guidance to make your diamond buying experience informed and successful.