Wondering what all the noise is about what are lab grown diamonds these days?
Congratulations! You have come to the right place.
In this guide, we are going to tell you all you need to know about lab diamonds, including:
- What are lab diamonds?
- Are lab diamonds the same as real diamonds?
- How to buy lab diamonds
Let’s get started on knowing if lab diamonds are worth it.
In this Guide
- What is a Lab Grown Diamond?
- How are Lab Diamonds Created?
- High-Pressure High Temperature (HPHT)
- Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD)
- Difference Between Lab Diamonds & Natural Diamonds
- How to Buy Lab Created Diamonds
- Red Flags When Buying Lab Grown Diamonds
- How Much is a Lab-created Diamond?
- Are Lab Diamonds Ethical?
- Blood Diamonds
What is a Lab Grown Diamond?
The business of selling lab diamonds has recently become popular and the industry is widening. This is surprising given that they haves a short history.
The business is growing so fast that even Debeers, the biggest and most famous name in natural diamonds, is not left behind. Lab diamonds have created a big impact in the jewelry sector, especially in engagement rings.
They have gained popularity because lab diamonds are similar to mined diamonds in all aspects.
- A lab-created diamond has the same durability as a natural diamond
- A lab-created diamond has a similar light performance to a natural diamond
- Lab diamonds are just as hard as mined diamonds
- Lab diamonds can be certified by any of the trusted grading labs the same way a natural one would
There are different ways used by various labs to synthesize diamonds but the General Electric method is viewed as the most successful if you want to produce diamonds of gem quality.
How are Lab Diamonds Created?
Lab diamonds are real diamonds except that they are created in the laboratory instead of forming in the earth. There are two distinct processes that labs use to make synthetic diamonds. These are HPHT and CVD.
High-Pressure High Temperature (HPHT)
This method started a bit on the rough side, producing yellow and brownish diamonds. It underwent several improvements until the 1950s when the first colorless diamond was created.
HPHT imitates the conditions under which a natural diamond grows while inside the earth. A diamond seed is put inside a piece of pure carbon and then put in a chamber. The chamber is subjected to immense pressure and high temperatures. The intense heat and pressure make the carbon grow.
Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD)
Like HPHT, CVD also starts with a diamond seed. This method was a mess when it started because they hadn’t really figured out what needs to be done exactly. HPHT beat them to the discovery.
This diamond synthesis process developed the first colorless diamond in the 1980s. People came to appreciate this method because it used a particular kind of diamond seed.
CVD has a smaller chamber than HPHT and uses less energy. The seed is put in a chamber that is then filled with glass rich in carbon. The chamber is then filled with heat. The heat makes the glass turn into plasma that degrades until only carbon is left. Diamonds then start to grow.
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Difference Between Lab Diamonds & Natural Diamonds
Lab-created diamonds have optical, physical, and chemical properties similar to diamonds mined from the earth. That is not to say that they are not different. There are a few things to note about the difference between synthetic diamonds and real diamonds.
- Lab diamonds have little or no resale value
- Lab-grown diamonds are about 20-70% cheaper than real diamonds
- Real diamonds have different grading certificates from lab-grown diamonds
These are the major differences between real mined diamonds and synthesized stones. There are other minor differences as well.
How to Buy Lab Created Diamonds
Buying lab diamonds is no different from buying natural diamonds. Both have the 4Cs generated by the Gemological Institute of America. Both kinds of diamonds’ quality are determined by Color, Cut, Carat weight, and Clarity.
Diamond color refers to how yellow or brownish the diamond is. The color grade of a diamond is a different thing from fancy colored diamonds.
When buying colorless diamonds, you probably would not want any tint in it. Lab diamonds have less or no tint compared to natural diamonds since they are isolated. It is easy to make colorless diamonds than mine them.
Similarly, it is hard to get natural fancy colored diamonds, they are easier to make in the lab. With real diamonds, the color has to be saturated the rest can be treated.
When creating lab diamonds, the impurity is put in the stone manually. The price of a lab-colored diamond is much lower than a natural-colored diamond. Blue Nile is one of the reputable online diamond sellers that have a beautiful collection of Lightbox colored synthetic diamond jewelry. The most popular is the pink lab diamonds collection and blue lab diamonds.
Diamond cut refers to either its shape or the way it is cut and faceted.
With lab diamonds, the cut specifically refers to how the stone has been cut. Round cut diamonds have a unique and specific cut that other diamond shapes do not have.
Each diamond shape normally has specified proportions that the diamond cutter should stick to. Instead of picking a diamond from already sorted categories, try to match the lab diamond with the correct proportions.
The Carat weight of a diamond refers to its weight. Most people think carat refers to the size of the diamond, but it will change depending on the shape of the diamond. Some types of diamond shapes have to be cut deeper so that they have a small face-up size. Other shapes have a wide surface area because they are shallow,
Carat weight is one of the biggest contributors to the lab diamond price. High carat weight should be equal to better clarity and color grades. Inclusions and tints become easy to notice when the diamond is bigger.
If you have been in the jewelry market for some time, you have noticed that two 1-carat lab diamonds do not cost the same as 0ne 2-carat lab diamonds. However, the difference between those two is nothing compared to the difference between a 2-carat natural diamond and a 2-carat lab diamond.
The clarity of a diamond refers to how free the stone is from blemishes and inclusions when viewed by the naked eye. Lab diamonds are more eye-clean than natural diamonds since they do not come in contact with many materials or minerals.
Lab-grown diamonds have inclusions too, though not easily noticeable. It is easier to find lab diamonds with high clarity at affordable prices.
See below the price difference between a VVS1 natural diamond and a lab diamond.
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Red Flags When Buying Lab Grown Diamonds
There is less chance that you will run into a retailer that sells you natural diamonds in the guise of lab diamonds. The reverse is true. You need to watch out for a few things when buying diamonds made in the lab.
Similar to earth-grown diamonds, lab diamonds have imitations too. Since synthetic diamonds are the same as mined diamonds, the same imitations apply.
Any gemstone that is colorless and can be faceted can be used as a diamond stimulant. Some stones are real gemstones while others are manmade materials.
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The most common lab diamond stimulants include:
- White sapphire
- White Zircon
- Cubic Zirconia
- White Topaz
Most of the lab diamond stimulants are valued less than a lab diamond of the same size. Natural white sapphire and moissanite may sometimes be valued the same as lab diamonds since they are the highest quality diamond alternatives you can find.
The #1 fake diamond in the gem industry is faceted glass. The natural glass comes in a variety of colors and shapes, but can be faceted to look like a mined or lab diamond. The #2 fake diamond is cubic zirconia and can be made in any color.
There are several ways to test your diamond to verify it is really a diamond. If you use a diamond tester on a lab diamond, it will test “diamond”. However, a diamond tester can be erratic depending on the angle you hold it and the pressure you use.
Purchase from a reputable lab diamond seller
It is much cheaper to buy lab-created diamonds online than to go to a brick-and-mortar store like Zales or Jared. The big corporate stores have just started introducing lab diamonds in their stores, but they are still expensive.
This, however, does not mean that all online diamonds sellers are trustworthy. Always shop and buy from a retailer that has real positive reviews, a good return policy, and a big reputation.
Buy lab diamonds that have been certified
DON’T ever buy a diamond that has no certificate, even a lab diamond. Stores like Zales and Kays sell uncertified diamond engagement rings at a price higher than they actually should be.
Not all grading labs give good reports either. Luckily, there are varieties of labs that grade lab diamonds. There are grading labs that are less approved to grade natural diamonds.
This is because it is easier to grade lab-grown diamonds than natural diamonds. Lab diamonds have more appealing clarity features because of the kind of environment they grow in.
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How Much is a Lab-created Diamond?
The cost of a diamond made in the lab varies depending on the stone’s grade. Apart from the commonly known 4Cs, symmetry, fluorescence, and polish contribute to the price.
You already know that lab diamonds are cheaper online, but most people are skeptical when they hear that for the first time. The lab diamonds are cheaper because the middleman is cut off from the distribution channel.
The jewelry retailer has to pay for the diamond jewelry to be brought into the store. The online retailer displays the diamonds directly on the site; they do not have to put any jewelry down for you to see it. Ring settings are also cheaper in online stores.
In general, you will save around 20-30% when you buy lab diamond jewelry online than in-store.
When you buy a natural diamond ring online, you save about 20-70% more than if you buy it in-store.
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Are Lab Diamonds Ethical?
After the movie Blood Diamond was released, diamond mining became a hot topic. From the time the movie started airing, people became more skeptical of the diamond industry.
In all our guides, we have been supporting and recommending jewelry stores and diamond sellers that go through the Kimberly Process. However, other companies believe that the process is not enough to cover the concern of conflict or blood diamonds. People were and still are concerned about the environmental impact, working conditions, and peanut pay. Such concerns are what drive people to buy diamonds created in the lab instead of those that grow in the earth.
Brilliant Earth is one such company. This store is known for its Beyond Conflict Free Diamonds policy. They sell natural diamonds whose history is tracked from the point of mining to the shelf at the jewelry store.
In addition, Brilliant earth sells recut and repurposed (recycled) diamonds and synthetic diamonds. All their jewelry is packed in environmentally safe materials.
All diamonds created in the lab are 100% conflict-free. They are friendlier to the environment than mined diamonds. The diamond mining process uses huge amounts of fossil fuel and explosives to blow the earth.
However, it is not to say that all lab diamonds are “green” and environmentally sustainable. You need to cross-check with a seller that claims their diamonds are sustainable.
Labs diamonds still use extreme heat to grow, although the energy is less compared to natural mining. They still have carbon traces, unless a company has its own evidence.
What is a lab diamond?
A lab-made diamond is an environmentally safe and cost-effective way of owning diamond jewelry. It is the best way to buy an ethical engagement or wedding ring.
Lab-grown diamonds have:
- The same chemical, optical, and physical properties as natural diamonds
- Different approved grading labs for diamond certificates
- Cheaper prices for the same grades than natural diamonds
- Better clarity than mined diamonds
Lab diamonds are a great choice for wedding rings, engagement rings, and other fine jewelry pieces.
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