Lab-Grown diamonds are a technological marvel. Now machines can grow batches of diamonds in weeks where it took Nature over a billion years to make hers. Plus they cost up to 80% less than comparable natural diamonds.
Lab-grown really are the perfect diamond for casual relationships where you want to spend as little as possible.
In this article we explore the differences so you can make an informed decision when choosing between lab-grown vs. natural diamonds for her engagement ring.
A little further down we'll give you our recommendation on where to buy high quality lab diamonds for the lowest prices we've seen.
What is a Natural Diamond?
A diamond is a naturally occurring substance made from carbon. It is the hardest natural occurring substance in the world. It formed over 100 miles below the Earth’s surface. Exposed to extreme heat and pressure (at 2,200oF at 725,000 PSI), the carbon atoms fuse into a compact and clear crystal.
This process occurred one to three billion years ago. Natural diamond crystals are rare and when people first discovered diamonds they were fascinated by the eight sided octahedral shape and unique hardness of the crystal.
Originally found in India, man discovered that diamonds 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 remain. 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 the same physical, chemical and optical qualities of natural diamonds, but they do not originate from under the Earth.
They're man-made diamonds and as the name suggests, they're created in a laboratory or more actually, a factory using equipment that try's to mimic the natural environment that forms naturally-made diamonds. Manufacturers of lab grown diamonds don’t have millions of years to grow their diamonds so they change the process making it 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. It is very possible that the process and development to make 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) in to a huge 2 story high, mechanical vice to produce a gem-quality diamond. They, then apply extreme heat (over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit) 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 and 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 1,500oF. 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 grown in a square pattern and are also easy to test for. Diamonds using CVD are grown in batches, not unlike synthetic meat, and this sparks debates about the merits of lab-grown vs. natural diamonds. For clarity, here’s 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 is required to apply the tremendous pressures and high temperature to the diamond seed.
The original diamond growing process developed in the 1950’s
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 advertising or websites discussing the differences between lab grown 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 or 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 more precious because of their history and rarity. Natural diamonds are like an expensive, original work of art by a famous artist. Lab grown diamonds are the same material and look the same, but are copies of the original work of artwork. So while lab-grown diamonds have the advantage of being more common and are 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 stone. While the same quality lab grown diamond can be purchased for about $800 if they only knew where to look. Checkout lightboxjewelry.com for the highest quality lab grown diamonds, at the lowest prices we have found anywhere. 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 diamond 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 to spend 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 why we keep diamonds safe so that we can pass them on to next generations. Grant calls natural diamonds a miracle of nature, and they are. They bear unique qualities and markings that could only result 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 getting natural diamonds would.
Lab Grown Diamonds: A Bigger Look For Less Money.
“More flash for the cash” or “More bling for the buck!” These common saying 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. Many guys that don’t appreciate the emotional value of a one-of-a-kind, natural diamond and make the wrong choice because they can save allot 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. 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. So the more likely reason there is no resale market for existing lab grown diamonds is because no one know 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. And 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 its symbolism, 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. If on the other hand, you're looking to impress people with shear size for a very low price, lab grown diamonds are the right choice. As you can see, Lab grown and natural diamonds are very different from one another.
Natural diamonds 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. At Lee Read Diamonds we're diamond experts. We can help you understand the differences in diamonds and guide you to the perfect diamond ring or jewelry for your special person.
If you would like to know more click the chat icon and Rebecca will be happy to answer your questions. Or browse our website and call us today at (208) 376-8800 so that we can assist you better. You may also book an appointment with our diamond matchmakers for a more guided, in-depth and personalized consultation regarding both natural and lab grown diamonds at no charge.