So you are contemplating between lab-created diamonds vs natural diamonds for your piece of jewelry.
The world of diamonds is a fascinating one. Diamonds are often given as an expression of love, and in some cultures, they are seen as the ultimate symbol of success.
Whether they’re diamond rings, necklaces, bracelets, or loose stones– all of them come with a hefty price tag as well as an emotional one.
But did you know that there are two types of diamonds?
One type comes from deep within Earth’s crust (natural diamonds), while the other is made in a laboratory (lab-grown diamonds).
At first glance, natural diamonds may seem like the obvious choice for anyone looking for the best possible stone.
But as you’ll see later on, there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to the perfect gem.
In this article, we’re taking a deep dive into lab-grown diamonds vs natural diamonds, including their differences, benefits, and more.
What are lab grown diamonds?
Lab-grown diamonds are formed using a manufacturing process. In contrast, natural diamonds are formed using geological processes, then excavated or mined.
Lab diamonds are chemically and physically the same as natural diamonds.
How are lab diamonds created?
The two main methods for creating lab-grown diamonds are High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT) and Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD):
High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT)
The HPHT method involves placing a small diamond seed into a piece of carbon. Then, using a split-sphere (BARS) press or a cubic press, it’s pressurized to about 1.5 million pounds/square inch and exposed to the heat of at least 2, 700 Fahrenheit or higher.
During this process, the carbon melts, forming a diamond around the seed before being cooled.
Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD)
The CVD method also starts with a diamond seed. In many cases, that seed is an HPHT diamond.
First, it’s heated to over 1, 400 Fahrenheit in a sealed chamber full of methane, hydrogen, and other gases that are rich in carbon.
They’re ionized until they turn into plasma, which essentially breaks down the molecular structure of the gases. Once that happens, pure carbon starts coating the seed, forming a brand-new diamond.
Where do natural diamonds come from?
The process of creating laboratory-grown diamonds may sound complicated, but it simply copies what happens inside the earth.
Specifically, natural diamond formation begins with a carbon atom. This carbon atom is put under high pressure and temperature inside the earth’s crust.
This causes it to bond with other carbon atoms, forming a tetrahedron-shaped molecule called a diamond cubic crystal lattice. Under extreme heat and pressure, the carbon atoms arrange themselves into a lattice that forms a diamond. This is one way that gem-quality diamonds are made.
Another process begins with volcanic activity, as well as heat and pressure deep in the earth’s crust. In these conditions, carbon molecules bond together to form graphite, another form of carbon. Graphite contains many layers of carbon atoms, much like sheets of paper.
Due to heat and pressure over millions of years, the graphite layers are eventually converted into diamond crystals.
Are lab diamonds real?
Yes, lab diamonds are considered real.
Specifically, lab-grown diamonds are the same as their natural (earth-mined) diamonds in their chemical, optical and physical properties. In other words, they have the same types of clarity, color, cut, sizes, and shapes.
In fact, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recognized lab diamonds as real in 2018.
The 4Cs of Lab Grown Diamonds
The 4Cs are a set of standards used to evaluate diamonds. They stand for carat, color, clarity, and cut.
It’s the standard that diamond buyers and sellers like Clark Pawners use to assess and grade diamonds.
Although lab-grown diamonds are man-made, they still show variations across the 4Cs:
The carat is used to measure the weight of diamonds, whether lab-created or natural. One carat is equal to 1/5 of a gram, and the same metric is used for both types of diamonds.
A lab-grown diamond also comes in similar size varieties as its mined counterpart. However, because of supply limits, you may not be able to find certain weights.
Color variations in diamonds are commonly caused by impurities. Natural diamonds contain impurities that, during the mining process, give them their color.
For instance, diamonds with a yellow tint are caused by trace amounts of nitrogen. Colorless diamonds are the rarest and most valuable of all.
As for lab-grown diamonds, the color can be artificially introduced. The lab-grown diamonds are grown in a lab, so they can be controlled to produce specific colors.
Both a lab and a natural diamond have flaws and inclusions, which can be seen by the naked eye and with a microscope.
Clarity is where these two types tend to have the biggest differences. In particular, lab-grown diamonds usually have darker inclusions due to their manufacturing process.
Lab-grown diamonds are produced with a specific cut to achieve certain sparkle and fire. They have been perfected by lab technicians so they can replicate mined diamonds as closely as possible.
Cut is where a lab diamond and mined diamond most closely resemble each other.
Because of this, you can find lab-grown diamonds that are equally beautiful as mined diamonds.
In short, when it comes to the 4Cs, there aren’t big differences between a lab-created diamond and a natural diamond.
How can you tell the difference between a lab created diamond and a natural diamond?
You can’t, unless you are a professional gemologist.
You’ll need specialized equipment to tell the difference between lab diamonds vs natural ones. With the right level of magnification, experts will be able to make out small contrasts that occur between the inclusions of lab-created and mined diamonds.
Because of this, the best way to check is to see the diamond’s certification.
Jewelers are required to declare whether a piece of diamond is synthetically or naturally created. Reputable stores will be happy to show you this information because it will significantly impact the resale value and upfront cost of your diamond.
Does a lab grown diamond come with GIA certifications?
Yes, you can get a GIA certification for your lab diamond.
The Gemological Institute of America has been grading lab diamonds as early as 2007. By 2019, they were no longer using the word “synthetic” in their GIA laboratory-grown Diamond Reports and identification reports.
Are lab grown diamonds as valuable as natural diamonds?
No. A lab-grown diamond is much cheaper than a mined diamond, usually by about 30% to 50%.
Natural diamonds are expensive because they occur as very rare stones in the rough. Their value is also increased by the time, effort, and expertise it takes to cut, process, and polish them into gems. Think of the supply chain.
Because lab diamonds are newcomers to the jewelry world, their ultimate value still remains to be seen. They can still become more expensive in the future, especially as the technology becomes more refined, and diamond manufacturers are able to produce lab-grown diamonds faster and of higher quality/
When shopping for lab-grown diamonds, you’ll often see them labeled as lab-created diamonds or lab-grown diamonds.
If you do decide on a lab-grown diamond, be sure that your lab diamond has been certified by one of the major labs like the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) or the IGI (International Gemological Institute).
No matter what type of diamond you buy, be sure to avoid dealers who are trying to sell you lab diamonds without an outside lab report.
Should You Buy Lab Diamonds vs Natural Diamonds?
It really depends on what you’re looking for.
For example, let’s say you’re looking for a diamond engagement ring, but don’t have a huge budget for it. If that’s the case, you might feel inclined to purchase a lab diamond.
Lab diamonds are just as beautiful and sparkly as their mined counterparts, but without the hefty price tag attached to them. A lab diamond is also a consideration for the eco-friendly patrons since they are not mined and thus, more sustainable.
On the other hand, a natural diamond has its own allure as well. There’s a reason why they’re one of the most valuable stones on the planet: they’re beautiful, rare, and have a long history going back thousands of years.
At the end of the day, a lab diamond is a good choice for those looking to purchase this amazing stone on a budget.
But if you’ve got money to spend, there’s still plenty of reasons why you should go with natural diamonds over lab diamonds.
One is that you don’t have to pay a fortune for a natural diamond– you can browse our collection of pawnshop diamond jewelry here at Clark Pawners anytime.
How is a Lab Diamond different from Cubic Zirconia and Moissanite?
The main difference is that moissanite and cubic zirconia (CZ) are diamond stimulants. They look like diamonds, but they are chemically different, which means they are not real diamonds.
For instance, cubic zirconia is not nearly as hard as a diamond. It also develops scratches over time. In contrast, diamonds are the hardest substances on earth and are highly resistant to wear and tear.
On the other hand, moissanite is harder than cubic zirconia, but still nowhere near the hardness of a diamond. However, it’s still a beautiful stone and is a great option for engagement rings like lab diamonds.
7 FAQs about Lab Diamonds vs Natural Diamonds
- Are lab-created diamonds worth anything?
Of course! You can sell your lab diamonds, but don’t expect to get premium prices for them. Because natural diamonds are considered rarer, they generally fetch a higher price than a lab-grown diamond.
Also, you may discover that some shops and jewelers still don’t currently buy diamonds. Don’t let that discourage you. Fact is, lab-grown diamonds are a relatively new product, which means the market still needs time to study their value.
That doesn’t mean a lab-created diamond is worthless: it just means you may want to hold onto yours for a little bit longer and see what the market has in store for it in the future.
- Will lab grown diamonds pass a diamond tester?
Yes, lab diamonds will pass a diamond tester.
- Will lab diamonds have the same clarity?
A lab-grown diamond may not have the same exact clarity as a natural diamond.
Natural diamonds are mined from the ground and lab-created diamonds are formed in lab conditions, so lab-grown diamonds can form inclusions that you might not find in natural diamonds.
- Are lab diamonds as strong as natural diamonds?
Definitely. Lab diamonds are made by creating carbon-based diamonds in a lab. When you make them in the lab, you get exactly the same composition of the diamond that you would if it were being mined out of Mother Earth.
Lab diamonds have just as much strength and durability as any natural diamond.
- What makes lab diamonds different from natural diamonds?
The lab diamond process is made possible by subjecting a piece of lab-grown diamond to high pressure, which causes the carbon atoms to crystallize into a brilliant diamond crystal.
Most lab diamonds are physically, chemically, and optically identical to natural diamonds. The only difference is the lab diamond’s history – lab diamonds are made in a lab, while natural diamonds were formed deep within the earth over millions of years.
- Are lab-grown diamonds GIA certified?
Yes, lab-created diamonds can be GIA certified. However, the International Gemological Institute (IGI) is typically the one that provides grading reports for lab-grown diamonds.
- Do lab diamonds shine like natural diamonds?
Yes, they have the same physical properties that natural lab diamonds do, including being very shiny with gorgeous sparkle!
Clark Pawners: We Buy and Sell Diamonds at the Best Prices!
When it comes to all things diamond, Clark Pawners is at your service. We are committed to providing our customers with the best diamond experience possible whether you want to buy a piece of jewelry or sell the one you currently own.
With Clark Pawners, you can be sure that your questions are answered and your needs met at any stage of your shopping journey.