Lab Grown Diamonds Versus Natural Diamonds | What's the Difference
Buying an engagement ring in modern times may be a stressful ordeal. Choosing a style may be challenging since many stones, cuts, and designs exist. As a result, a new layer of choice has opened up for those drawn to the traditional diamond: Should they go with a mined diamond, or would they rather buy a lab-grown stone?
To help you make up your mind, we'll go through the key differences between diamonds made in a lab and those found in the ground. In the end, not much difference at all. From the perspective of the ordinary customer, there is little to no distinction between the two.
"Chemically, optically, and gemologically, lab-grown and mined diamonds are the same. Where they primarily vary, however, is in how they have been generated and the ethical and environmental repercussions that result for the world at large." How you feel about it counts since the distinctions aren't in the stone's composition but in its origin.
The Critical Distinction Between Laboratory-Grown and Natural Diamonds
It's not only the process by which they're created that sets lab-grown and natural diamonds apart; there are also other key differences.
1. Where They Come From
For the most part, today's commercial diamonds were created deep inside the Earth's mantle. Carbon underwent atomic rearrangement and crystallized into a diamond after being subjected to extreme heat and pressure for billions of years.
Deep-source volcanic eruptions brought diamonds closer to the Earth's surface through kimberlite pipes from regions where circumstances and temperatures were suitable for diamond formation. According to Doulton, "diamonds are fractured in the process, generating more little bits than huge." The valuable stones are extracted from these enormous, deep craters.
Chemical vapour deposition is the most prevalent method, as explained by Cook. You begin with a thin diamond that has already established its crystalline structure.
This component, made of natural or previously manufactured lab-created diamond, is frequently referred to as the diamond "seed." When the seed is exposed to a vacuum, carbon molecules may combine to form a diamond. It's similar to the process of "3-D printing" a diamond.
Just like a mined diamond, the diamond 'grown' in this chamber may be cut and polished. And, chemically speaking, a lab-grown diamond is identical to a natural diamond since both are pure carbon.
Cook claims that the first laboratory-grown diamonds were created in the 1950s but "required nearly sixty more years to make gem-quality diamonds—that is, a diamond of sufficient colour and clarity you'd want to wear on your finger."
Natural diamonds are so expensive in part because they are so uncommon. According to Doulton, "they rely on intricate and costly mining processes, and there are no promises about what will emerge out of the soil."
It is believed that there is a limited supply of natural stones on Earth, and as each stone is formed under somewhat different conditions, the criteria used to determine their value will also be one-of-a-kind.
Diamonds are expensive because of the time and effort required to mine and polish them, as well as the market's strategic and, some would say, questionable beginnings, control, and promotion.
Since the supply networks for the two are separate, lab-grown diamonds will be much cheaper than their natural counterparts, perhaps by as much as fifty per cent. Moreover, when it comes to manufacturing lab-created diamonds, "advances in technology also allow for better efficiency," adds Cook.
Carbon is the only component of both natural diamonds and laboratory-grown diamonds. However, as the hardest substance on Earth (a 10 on the Mohs scale), they are just as difficult to chip as a genuine diamond.
When it comes to grading, "many of the same grading institutions," such as the Gemological Institute of America and the International Gemological Institute, "rate lab-created diamonds using the same procedures and criteria used for genuine diamonds," adds Cook.
That's significant because it suggests that the 4Cs (cut, clarity, colour, and carat) are not distinguishable between lab-grown and natural diamonds since all standard-setting organizations use the same scales to assess both.
Lab-grown diamonds will develop the inclusions or "flaws" that decrease a diamond's brilliance and clarity grade for the same reason. (The presence of inclusions may make a stone seem cloudier, resulting in a poorer clarity rating.) Clarity ratings for lab-grown diamonds run the gamut from Flawless (F1) to Included 3, much like those for natural diamonds (I3).
The same holds here; a high-quality lab-grown diamond will get the same colour grading as a natural diamond.
Most engaged couples shop for diamonds with a colour grade of G or J since this range is considered almost colourless, and there is no discernible difference between lab-grown and natural diamonds. However, truly colourless diamonds, which range in quality from D to F, are very uncommon and, as a result, quite costly.
Considerations for Shopping
The ethical and environmental implications of bringing natural diamonds to market may be the best argument for buying lab-grown diamonds.
As a result of this shift, millennials and members of the next generation are more selective about the businesses they support, making sure such businesses share their beliefs.
To see the ecological degradation and light pollution that may result from diamond mining, you have to do a Google picture search of the Orapa diamond mine, as Cook puts it.
Unfortunately, this fits in with the questionable morals of the diamond industry as it has developed over time. While there has been progressed in cleaning up the business, buying a lab-created diamond is the only way to know that your diamond did not come from an area controlled by warring groups.
However, there are certain downsides to using lab-grown diamonds. According to Doulton, the high-temperature equipment used to manufacture lab-grown diamonds still uses energy. On the other hand, there's no denying that their chain of custody from production to sale is transparent.
As the demand for diamonds rises and falls, the sector must adapt by making internal and external changes.
Is it correct to refer to a diamond created in a laboratory as a "synthetic" diamond?
No. The Federal Trade Commission revised its jewellery marketing standards in 2018, removing the word "natural" from their definition of a diamond. As a result, lab-grown diamonds may no longer be called "synthetic," as they are also composed of pure carbon like real diamonds. Therefore, they are both diamonds due to their same chemical composition.
Is there a difference in price between mined and laboratory-grown diamonds?
It is important to remember that the "worth" of a stone in terms of money is determined only by the market and the buyer's willingness to pay for it. Regardless of how rare or perfect a stone may be, its value does not come from the stone itself.
In the same way that the purchase price of a lab-grown diamond would have been lower had it been obvious that it had been developed in a laboratory, its worth would be lower if it were widely known to be such.
A diamond engagement ring is an investment not because of its monetary value but because of the symbolism, it represents in your relationship. An appraiser will not knock down the value of your stone because it was created in a laboratory. Instead, they'll use a new grading system.
Lab-grown diamonds may experience price shifts due to ongoing developments in the technology used to produce them.
Their value will certainly decrease if they grow cheaper and simpler to manufacture. Because of this, the value of both lab-created and natural diamonds might fall if the next generation similarly devalues the diamond as a symbol of love and marriage.
Will the common person be able to tell the difference?
In a firm "no," Cook states his stance. In fact, without a small laser inscription on the girdle of the diamond identifying it as lab-created, "most jewellers wouldn't notice the difference under a diamond loupe."
How do I know which kind of diamond to purchase?
Although the answer to this question is very individual, it should be determined after considering the factors mentioned in the preceding paragraphs.
As an expert, Doulton advises, "My suggestion is to pick lab-grown for a design-led engagement where the stone is not the key source of value of the band, and a mined diamond if an investment-grade solitaire is your dream ring."
Ultimately, only you can decide if a lab-grown diamond is right for you. With both stone types having unique benefits, it comes down to what's important to you as the buyer. Weigh your options and see which type of diamond would be best suited for your needs before making a purchase. Do you have your heart set on a natural diamond, or are you open to going with a lab-grown one?