Lab Grown vs. Real Diamond: Everything You Need to Know

An estimated 90 million carats of rough diamonds are mined each year for jewelry. While the diamond industry is booming, few know how to compare a lab-grown vs real diamond. They don’t realize they can get a higher-quality diamond at a fraction of the price of a natural diamond.

In this article, we compare lab-grown diamond rings and natural diamonds. Continue reading to decide whether you should buy a natural diamond or a lab-grown diamond. 

What Is A Lab-Grown vs Real Diamond?

One of the first things to understand when comparing a lab-grown vs real diamond is that the former is man-made. A natural diamond has to be mined but is created in nature. 

The major differences between a lab-grown vs real diamond aren’t obvious to the naked eye. Their differences are at the structural level. They also differ in their impact on the world. 

How Are Natural Diamonds Made?

Natural diamonds are made approximately 100 miles below the earth’s surface. Every natural diamond we have today started forming millions or billions of years ago. They are the result of the perfect combination of heat and pressure applied to carbon. 

Certain natural events bring the diamonds to the earth’s surface so they can be mined. One of the most common examples of these types of events is volcanic eruptions. 

The eruption has to happen quickly for the carbon to cool quickly enough to become a diamond. If the eruption is too slow, the diamond becomes graphite somewhere along the way out. 

How Are Lab-Grown Diamonds Made?

The process to create lab-grown diamonds is much faster than natural diamonds. It only takes about 6 to 10 weeks. There are two processes used to make lab-grown diamonds.

The first and original method is referred to as the high-pressure, high-temperature method (HPHT). This man-made process mimics the process that occurs to form natural diamonds.

The second and newer method is called the chemical vapor deposition method (CVD). The process requires less pressure and smaller machines than the HPHT method. It uses carbon-rich gas and high heat to grow the diamond.

Benefits of Lab-Grown Diamonds

In order to decide between natural and lab-grown diamond engagement rings, it’s important to understand the benefits of each. They are so similar in appearance, we need to consider some of the finer details.

Higher Quality

Lab-grown diamonds are of a higher quality than natural diamonds due to the creation process. A natural diamond is exposed to dirt and other sources of impurities. Because lab-grown diamonds aren’t exposed in the same way, they don’t have these impurities. 

This is one way that jewelers are able to differentiate between the two. These signs of strain and imperfection are identifying features of natural diamonds. 

Ethically Sourced

Natural diamonds come with a dark history. They’ve been used to fund civil conflicts, violate human rights, and sustain poor working conditions. These events earned natural diamonds the title of ‘blood diamonds.’ 

Buying lab-grown diamond rings comes with better peace of mind since they’re made in a lab and not mined in poor communities. This also makes them more sustainable and environmentally friendly than mining for natural diamonds. 

However, it’s important to keep in mind that lab-grown diamonds aren’t without their environmental impact. They require large amounts of energy to supply the necessary heat and pressure. While less impactful than mining, it still present sustainability problems. 

Less Expensive

Since they’re faster and easier to manufacture, lab-grown diamond engagement rings come with a much lower price tag (look here). A lab-grown diamond may cost nearly half as much as a natural diamond of the same size, quality, and color.

The cost savings extends to lab-grown diamond engagement rings of different colors as well. These can come at a higher price than colorless diamonds when it comes to natural diamonds. 

Benefits of Natural Diamonds

While there are many benefits enjoyed from buying lab-grown diamonds, there are a few reasons why people still favor natural diamonds.

The environmental and ethical implications of buying a natural diamond are a major deterrent. However, the rarity and unique creation process are attractive to many buyers. 

Hold Their Value Better

One of the major detriments of a lab-grown vs real diamond is its long-term value. Once you buy a lab-grown diamond, they immediately start losing their value.

This is because the industry isn’t constrained by supply. Scientists are able to make new diamonds in just a few weeks as opposed to the finite amount of natural diamonds currently available.

Natural diamonds hold their value much better in comparison. This means it’s proportionately cheaper to upgrade to a larger diamond in the future. At the same time, lab-grown diamond rings continue to depreciate.

Better for Developing Communities

If you can set aside the civil conflicts and human rights violations, the industry for natural diamonds creates sustainable jobs for developing communities. Mining in these communities is a significant source of income.

The loss of the natural diamond mines would have a significant impact on these parts of the world. The lab-grown diamond industry threatens to put entire communities out of jobs and impact their livelihoods. 

Plus, the diamond industry is making efforts to resolve civil conflicts pertaining to diamond mining. Though the issues pertaining to human rights is still a concern.  

Deciding Between a Lab-Grown vs Real Diamond

The difference between a lab-grown vs real diamond can’t be appreciated with the naked eye. They vary significantly in how they’re made, what they offer consumers, and what they cost. The decision of which to buy comes down to the preference of individual consumers.

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