Not too long ago we had a new client come in to design an engagement ring for his girlfriend. He was so excited, but he didn’t have a large budget. To get him the most bang for his budget, we decided to go with lab grown diamonds vs natural diamonds. The ring was beautiful, we were able to stay within his budget, and she loved it and said yes.
This got me to thinking about lab grown diamonds vs natural diamonds, and as a diamond wholesaler, we love natural diamonds. In fact, we don’t carry lab grown diamonds, although we can source them and have no problems doing that if our clients want them. But we realized this is a teachable moment, and as you know, we love to teach and inform you so you can make the best decisions for yourselves and your budgets!
Lab Grown Diamonds Vs. Natural Diamonds – The Basics
There is much debate over lab grown diamonds vs. natural diamonds. Which is better for the environment? Are lab grown diamonds real diamonds? Why is there such a price discrepancy? What exactly is a lab grown diamond? Let’s go over some of the basics.
- They are created differently. Natural diamonds are mined from the earth and take years to form. Lab grown diamonds are created in a lab in two ways. One way is by taking a slim diamond slice that already has formed a crystalline structure that is pure carbon. This is placed in a vacuum where carbon molecules assimilate to the diamond slice. The second way is High pressure, high temperature (HPHT) which mimics the high pressure, high temperature conditions that form natural diamonds in the Earth. A lab grown diamond can take less than a month and most need additional treatments to enhance or change their colors after they have grown. Think of 3D printing.
- The price points are very different. Natural diamonds are much more expensive (up to 50% more) than a lab grown diamond for several reasons. Natural diamonds are rare and finite. Natural diamonds have a higher cost for labor and energy for mining and polishing.Lab grown diamonds aren’t controlled by supply chains. Lab grown diamonds take less labor but creating them does expend a lot of natural power or energy.
- The value of lab grown diamonds vs natural diamonds is different. The difference in resale value between natural and lab grown diamonds is greater than the difference in price. Natural diamonds often retain around 50% of their initial value, lab-created diamonds are almost impossible to resell and lose a huge percentage of their value the minute you purchase one. Think of a used car.
- The durability is very much the same. Lab grown diamonds and natural diamonds are both made of carbon. They each remain the hardest material on earth and have a 10 on the Mohs hardness scale.
- The 4 C’s of lab grown diamonds vs natural diamonds. Natural diamonds go through a rigorous grading process to get cut, clarity, carat, and color. Believe it or not so can lab grown diamonds, which can be any carat, any cut, any clarity, and any color. Also, many of the labs use the same process to grade lab grown diamonds as they do for natural diamonds. Lab grown diamonds will take on the inclusions or ‘flaws’ that affect a stones sparkle and clarity grade, just like a natural diamond and the clarity grads for lab grown diamonds are the same as a natural diamond. When it comes to color and cut, lab grown diamonds vs natural diamonds are graded the same, but for a colorless lab grown diamond, the cost is about 30% less. Lab grown diamonds are working their way to larger sizes as the technology improves.
- Sustainability of lab grown diamonds vs natural diamonds. Some may purchase lab grown diamonds due to the ethical and environmental ramifications of bringing natural diamonds to market. Millennials and Gen Z are more concerned with ensuring their dollars back companies with values like their own. But remember that lab grown diamonds require large amounts of energy to power the high-temperature machines in which they are grown.
- The look of lab grown diamonds vs natural diamonds is virtually the same. Lab diamonds and mined diamonds are, for the most part, identical to the naked eye. As a consumer, you will not be able to tell the difference with the naked eye. If you are a jeweler or a diamond wholesaler, like us, we can see that there might be some inclusions on lab grown diamonds that are not in natural diamonds.
Lab Grown Diamonds Vs. Natural Diamonds – FAQs
- Will lab diamonds pass a diamond tester? Yes. Lab diamonds are real diamonds, made from pure crystallized carbon.
- Do lab diamonds shine like natural diamonds? Yes. Lab diamonds carry the same shine and sparkle, the same color and clarity as mined diamonds.
- Are lab-grown diamonds GIA certified? The GIA does certify lab-grown diamonds, however, since they have just started, they aren’t that many of them.
- What is the difference between a lab-created diamond and a cubic zirconia? A cubic zirconia does not contain carbon, so does not qualify as a diamond. A simulant like cubic zirconia is less hard and does not look quite the same to the naked eye.
- Is it accurate to call a lab-grown diamond a “synthetic” diamond? No. In a 2018 revision by the Federal Trade Commission to jewelry marketing guidelines, the word “natural” was removed from its definition of a diamond—the term synthetic cannot be applied to lab grown diamonds because they are made from the same material natural diamonds.
- Can the average person spot the difference? Nope.
The Bottom Line
Lab grown diamonds and natural diamonds are chemically, optically, and gemologically the same. Lab grown are created differently and cost less, and the choice is yours as to what you want. Remember, the resale value on a lab grown diamond is virtually nothing, and a natural diamond is an investment that can be handed down from generation to generation and will not lose its value, and perhaps even rise in value.
Jonathan’s Fine Jewelers suggest you first decide on your budget to see what natural diamonds can fit within that budget. If you aren’t satisfied with what you are seeing, then go the next route and see what you can get in your budget with a lab grown diamond. And please remember, we would be happy to source these for you!
If you are interested in learning more about natural diamonds vs lab grown diamonds, just give Sergio a call or contact us. Let’s chat!