Lab Grown Diamonds are a great way to celebrate a causal relationship with little or no long-term commitment. Made from carbon and possessing almost the same physical, chemical, and optical qualities as natural diamonds lab-grown diamonds are grown in batches and typically take only a few weeks to grow while natural diamonds are formed more than 100 miles below the Earth’s surface and are billions of years old.
In this blog, we explore the differences between lab-grown diamonds vs. natural diamonds so you can make an informed decision when choosing a diamond for her engagement ring.
What is a Natural Diamond?
A diamond is a naturally occurring substance made from carbon and is the hardest natural element in the world. Formed over 100 miles below the Earth’s surface, it is exposed to extreme heat and pressure (at 2,200oF at 725,000 PSI), and the carbon atoms fuse into a compact and clear crystal. This process occurred one to three billion years ago. Originally found in India, man discovered that these rare eight-sided, octahedral-shaped, diamond crystals were originally brought to the surface in molten magma from ancient volcanoes. Diamonds are so hard, the original volcanoes have long ago completely eroded away but the diamond crystal still remains. Today, most diamonds are found in the necks of these volcanoes that erupted 100 million years ago. Since diamonds are formed in such extreme conditions, their raw forms are rough and look nothing like the perfect gems that we have come to know. It’s interesting to know that only diamonds are hard enough to cut diamonds and that lapidaries called diamond cutters use diamond dust on brass wheels covered with oil to smooth, clear, and polish diamonds to get them ready for jewelry setting.
What is a Lab-Grown Diamond?
Lab-grown diamonds are also made of carbon and possess almost the same physical, chemical, and optical qualities as natural diamonds, but they do not originate from under the Earth nor are they rare. They are man-made diamonds, and as the name suggests, they're created in a laboratory or more actually, a factory using equipment that tries to mimic the natural environment where naturally-made diamonds are formed. Manufacturers of lab-grown diamonds don’t have millions of years to grow their diamonds, so they change the process, making it completely possible to produce them in only a few weeks. Lab-grown diamonds can be manufactured in several ways. High-Pressure High-Temperature (HPHT) or Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) are the current methods that are used. It is very possible that the process and development to create copies of diamonds will be even cheaper will in the future. HPHT diamond manufacturing started in the 1950s. Growers, place a diamond seed (a diamond crystal as thin as a strand of hair attached to a block of carbon) into a huge 2-story high, mechanical vice to produce a gem-quality diamond replica. They, then apply extreme heat (over 2,000°F) and pressure (about 1.5 million PSI (pounds per square inch) on the seed, attempting to recreate the natural process that took place over millions of years ago and a hundred of miles under the Earth’s surface. The man-made, HPHT diamond crystals, have 6 sides, not eight like natural diamonds. This difference in how they grow makes it relatively easy for any jeweler with the right equipment to test for lab-grown diamonds. With the CVD method, manufacturers have greater control over the clarity of the diamond. They can also enhance the hues of pinks, greens, yellows, or blues found in the gem by simply adding different gasses during the growing process. eg. adding Boron creates a blue color. Creating diamonds through CVD, started later than HPHT, in the 1980s. This method involves putting a diamond seed in a vacuum chamber, filling it with carbon methane gas, and then heating it to 1,500°F. The extreme temperature causes the carbon gas to turn into plasma and release carbon particles which, in turn, form layers on the diamond seed. CVD literally “grows” the diamond as more carbon layers surround the seed, like a 3D printer. Similar to HPHT, this also produces clones of natural diamonds. CVD diamond crystals grow in a square pattern and are also easy to test for. They are grown in batches, not unlike synthetic meat, which sparks debates about the merits of lab-grown vs. natural diamonds. For clarity, below is a cheat sheet on HPHT and CVD lab-grown diamonds
Uses 2 story high machines to recreate pressure and temperatures similar to those 100 miles beneath the Earth’s surface.
Huge amounts of electricity are required to apply the tremendous pressures and high temperature to the diamond seed.
The original diamond growing process developed in the 1950s
Is also used to improve the color of CVD grown diamonds
Takes 2 to 4 weeks depending on the size to grow a batch of diamond crystals.
Often have different colors or hues
Is the latest technology used to make man-made diamonds
Uses huge amounts of electricity to heat the carbon rich gas (methane) and uses large amounts of water to cool the machine so it doesn’t melt
May have a yellowish hue because of exposure to nitrogen
Can also have a bluish tint due to boron impurities
Takes 2 to 4 weeks depending on the size to grow a batch of diamond crystals.
What are the FTC rules for advertising Lab Grown vs Natural Diamonds?
It’s easy to get confused when you're reading advertisements or websites discussing the differences between lab-grown diamonds and natural diamonds. To help consumers, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued rules for how certain words must be used when describing lab-grown (man-made) diamonds. The FTC states that all diamonds are natural unless they have a preceding qualifier. Jewelers and dealers selling natural diamonds can use real, natural, precious, and genuine to advertise their jewelry. As for lab-grown diamonds, the FTC requires all advertisers and manufacturers to make it clear that they were made in a lab or factory. They can use synthetic, laboratory-grown, or laboratory-created to promote their gems and jewelry as long as they use these terms immediately before the word, diamond. They may also use “created by” followed by the manufacturer’s name.
This should answer the commonly asked question, “are natural diamonds real?” Keep these terms in mind when shopping for diamond jewelry. Like most things in life, there are some individuals that don’t follow the rules to make money and the internet is full of deceiving information describing lab-grown diamonds.
Lab-Grown Diamond vs. Natural Diamond Pricing.
Natural diamonds are more expensive than lab-grown diamonds. It’s easy to understand the disparity between lab-grown diamond prices vs. natural diamond pricing if you consider their origins. As discussed above, the most significant difference between natural and lab-grown diamonds is that one is genuine and one is a man-made copy. Natural diamonds are precious because of their history and rarity making them worth more, just like an expensive, original work of art by a famous artist. Lab-grown diamonds are created with the same material and look the same, but are simply copies of the original work of artwork. So while lab-grown diamonds have the advantage of being more common and can be far cheaper, they cannot match the long-term value of natural diamonds. Man-made diamonds are so inexpensive and common, they have little or no resale value – if you can resell them at all. As of 2022, there is a large disparity in the retail price of lab-grown diamonds from different sources. It is easy for a consumer to pay thousands of dollars for a lab-grown diamond at one store while the same quality lab-grown diamond can be purchased for about $800 at another. If a lab-grown diamond is the one for you, check out lightboxjewelry.com for the highest quality lab-grown diamonds, at the lowest prices we have found anywhere.
Lab-grown diamonds have a large disadvantage because jewelers do not repurchase lab-grown diamonds from customers, and most will not even offer a trade-in allowance toward a larger stone. In contrast, natural diamonds can be resold for up to 50 percent of their original cost. It could go higher if the diamond has a fascinating history or background. Also, jewelry stores like Lee Read Diamonds offer full-value trade-in privileges on natural diamonds, toward larger natural diamonds, if the original is purchased from us. So, if you’re looking to invest in jewelry, it’s wise to choose natural diamonds over lab-grown diamonds.
Why Natural Diamonds Are a Meaningful Gift.
Giving diamonds as a gift is an expression of love and admiration. Natural diamonds are expensive, and spending more money on a gift would imply that the recipient is someone important or someone you want to impress. But more than the cost, it is the creation and process that a natural diamond goes through that gives it significant meaning. Diamond industry expert Grant Mobley says “the word diamond comes from a Greek origin meaning unbreakable” and “we buy and wear diamonds because of what they represent.” Natural diamonds are symbolic of unfailing strength, resilience, commitment, and success. It is why natural diamonds are the most coveted gems for jewelry that we give to people we love, like your betrothed, spouse, children, parents, or close relatives and friends. It’s why most engagement rings and wedding rings use diamonds and pass them on to the next generations. Grant calls natural diamonds a miracle of nature, and they are. They bear unique qualities and markings that could only result in being created over millions of years 100 miles or more beneath the surface of the Earth. In comparison, lab-grown diamonds are mass-produced. They may have the perfect hue and absolute clarity of the finest natural diamonds, but they are not one-of-a-kind. They are clones and copies of the real thing. This is why women who understand the difference between the two, often report that receiving lab-grown diamonds doesn’t make them feel as special as receiving natural diamonds.
Lab Grown Diamonds: A Bigger Look For Less Money.
“More flash for the cash” or “More bling for the buck!” These common sayings sum up what most online diamond experts have to say; “Lab-grown diamonds are the same as natural diamonds, except they cost far less". They forget to mention the reason for this is that lab diamonds are not the real thing nor have the same emotional value. Many guys don’t appreciate the emotional value of a one-of-a-kind, natural diamond and make the wrong choice because they can save a lot of money. There is nothing wrong with giving a lab-grown diamond if it conveys your true feelings to the recipient. They're a great way to celebrate a causal relationship with little or no long-term commitment because they are easy to purchase. On the other hand, a copy or a clone of the real thing never conveys the same emotion, level of commitment, or personal satisfaction to the recipient as giving them the genuine item. Men give women expensive natural diamonds because they want to demonstrate in monetary terms how committed they are to their fiancé, wife, or close family member. Not because they have to. You’ve probably read or heard that of all the cons of lab-created diamonds, the lack of long-term value is arguably the most significant drawback. Many internet experts say, “The synthetic diamond market is still too young to determine resale values of lab-grown diamonds.” This may be true but when you consider 7 years ago when lab-grown diamonds first became economically viable, they sold for about 10% less than the price of a comparable natural diamond. In the Spring of 2022, top-quality lab-grown diamonds, are available for sale to the public on the internet, from reputable suppliers for about 80% less than the price of a comparable natural diamond.
Said another way, if you purchased a very high quality 1-carat lab-grown diamond in 2015, you would have paid around $10,000. Today you can buy that same lab-grown diamond for about $1,600 from lightboxjewelry.com. Therefore, the more likely reason there is no resale market for existing lab-grown diamonds is that no one knows how low the price of new man-made diamonds is eventually going to go. Advancements in technology and improvements in the manufacturing processes suggest that creating lab-grown diamonds will only get easier, faster, and cheaper in the coming years. Also, per the laws of supply and demand and economies of scale, the increase in supply and affordable manufacturing cost will drive the price – and value – of lab-grown diamonds even lower.
If your love is real, give her a real, rare, and romantic natural diamond. The power of natural diamonds lies in their symbolism and emotional value, not what it looks like. If you want to give a symbol that is rare, meaningful, valuable, and something that will make someone you love and care for feel genuinely moved, consider a piece of jewelry set with natural diamonds. They are the oldest thing any of us will ever touch and are the best choice for engagement rings, wedding rings, and jewelry for anniversaries, graduations, career milestones, and other important events. If on the other hand, you're looking to impress people with sheer size for a meager price, lab-grown diamonds may be the right choice for you. As you can see, lab-grown and natural diamonds are very different from one another. At Lee Read Diamonds we're diamond experts. We can help you understand the diamond differences and guide you to the perfect diamond ring or jewelry for your special person.