Diamond shopping is full of choices. From shape and size to clarity and colour, the options and combinations are endless! These days on the market, there’s one more option to consider, should you choose a Lab Grown or Natural Diamond?
As with any gemstone, there are pro’s and con’s to consider when determining which one is the right choice for you. Think of your lifestyle (are you hard on your jewellery?), taste (are you attracted to specific colours?), and budget (lab grown diamonds have grown in popularity due to their accessibility when it comes to pricing). Making your choice between a Lab Grown or Natural Diamond can often lead to many questions, including “is this too good to be true?”
Let’s start with the basics, what are lab grown diamonds?
What Are Lab Grown Diamonds?
Lab Grown Diamonds (also sometimes referred to as lab-created diamonds, man-made diamonds, synthetic diamonds, and cultured diamonds) are just that: diamonds grown in a lab. Created in highly controlled laboratory environments using advanced technological processes that duplicate the conditions under which diamonds naturally develop when they form in the mantle, beneath the Earth’s crust.
These lab-created diamonds consist of actual carbon atoms arranged in the characteristic diamond crystal structure. Since they are made of the same material as natural diamonds, they exhibit the same optical and chemical properties. Although identical in appearance to natural diamonds, they have very subtle differences that can only be detected by trained gemologists and sophisticated equipment designed for that purpose.
Lab Grown Diamonds vs. Natural Diamonds
Two specimens of faceted crystalized carbon - both are crystal clear and give off a kaleidoscope of spectral colours in direct light. They appear to be identical. One, however, is a billion or more years old and the other was recently grown in a laboratory.
Both are diamonds, of course. The first is a natural diamond created by forces deep within the young Earth. The second is from a laboratory and possesses essentially the same chemical, physical and optical properties as its natural counterpart.
Diamond is a mineral consisting of essentially pure carbon crystalized in the isometric cubic system. Although diamonds are essentially pure carbon, the vast majority of Natural Diamonds contain trace amounts of other substances, particularly nitrogen, which gives them a yellow colour or (rarely) boron, which imparts a blue colour. In addition, they usually contain inclusions, tiny bits of foreign material that were trapped in the still-forming diamond millions of years ago.
Laboratory-grown diamonds entered the gem and jewellery market in commercial quantities about five years ago. Lab created diamonds may exhibit different trace elements than natural diamonds. They can be distinguished from natural diamonds only with tests using specialized equipment, and should always come with a gem certification identifying them as laboratory grown.
If it looks like a diamond and sparkles like a diamond, it’s a diamond – right?
How Are Lab Grown Diamonds Graded & Certified?
The process for grading lab grown diamonds is the same as traditional diamonds and focuses on the 4C’s (cut, clarity, carat, and colour) of each gemstone. The cut is responsible for the brilliance of the diamond, and arguably the most important factor. Clarity refers to the appearance and lack of cracks and defects. When referencing clear diamonds, the lack of colour makes a higher grade. Finally, carat is the measure of the diamond's size and weight. Each diamond is examined carefully and assigned a quality rating on their 4C’s.
Since Lab Grown Diamonds are grown, not built, they will also take on inclusions and different colour characteristics that affect a stone’s grade. Just as with natural diamonds, clarity and colour grading for Lab Grown Diamonds range from Flawless to Included 3 (I3) and D (colourless) to past Z leading into Fancy Coloured Diamonds.
What Are The Benefits of Choosing Lab Grown Diamonds?
Beauty: Since Lab Grown Diamonds are chemically, physically, and optically the same as Natural Diamonds, the question of "lab diamond vs natural" comes down to personal preference when it comes to aesthetic beauty.
Price: Greater affordability is associated with Lab Grown Diamonds as they can be produced in large batches, making them considerably less expensive than Natural Diamond of comparable sizes and quality.
Ethically Sourced: Both Natural and Lab Grown Diamonds are excellent choices for if you are looking for ethically sourced diamonds. However, for those interested in purchasing a diamond that has not been mined, a Lab Grown Diamond would be the right option for you.
What You Should Know About Lab Grown Diamonds
There are several critical factors to consider when weighing the pros and cons of Lab Grown Diamonds to decide if they're right for you, especially in the context of "lab diamond vs natural":
Rarity (Or Rather, Lack-Thereof): Since Lab Grown diamonds are manufactured, they can be mass produced. Your Lab Grown Diamond will not be a “one-of-a-kind” diamond, as is the case with diamonds mined from the Earth.
Uncertainty of Value Long-Term: Since Lab Grown Diamonds are new to the jewellery industry, the long-term value of Lab Grown diamonds is still unknown. As they continue to take up market share in the diamond industry, advancements in lab-grown diamond technologies have lowered the value of previously sold lab-created diamonds. While naturally-mined diamonds typically increase in value over time, the lab-created diamond you buy today will likely be worth considerably less a year from now. The uncertainty of the value of lab-created diamonds makes their resale value questionable.
Decrease In Value Over Time: Due to their mass production, Lab Grown Diamonds are not considered as rare or sought-after as Natural Diamonds. Since there are no supply constraints, the value of a Lab Grown Diamond will depreciate with time.
Not As Environmentally Friendly As You May Think: There is still no categorical proof that Lab Created Diamonds are more sustainable or environmentally friendly compared to Earth Mined Diamonds. Most Lab Grown Diamonds still require a large amount of energy to power the machines in which they are grown.
Not All (Lab) Diamonds Are Created Equal: Due to the rapid development of laboratory-grown diamond technology, some laboratory grown diamonds have unusual visual characteristics. While some may say certain processes are better or worse, we believe the final end product speaks for itself. As a family-owned business with over fifty years of diamond buying expertise, we ensure that, natural or laboratory grown, any diamond from us sparkles exactly like it’s supposed to.
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