There are 7 important things you need to know about lab diamonds if you are considering buying one. In this quick guide, we cover the hard facts – including how lab grown diamonds are created, plus their price, quality and how they look compared to mined diamonds.
1. Are lab diamonds real?
Yes, lab diamonds are real diamonds, just like mined diamonds. Gemmologists consider lab grown diamonds to be genuine diamonds. This is because they have the exact same physical and chemical composition as mined diamonds.
They also look, feel and sparkle exactly like mined diamonds. The only difference is their origin: instead of being extracted from the ground, they are grown by scientists in a specialist laboratory.
2. How are lab diamonds grown?
Lab diamonds are grown in a high-tech laboratory. Scientists expose a tiny shard of a mined diamond, called a “diamond seed”, to carbon atoms under high pressure and extreme heat, thus imitating the natural volcanic process by which diamonds formed underground millions of years ago.
In a laboratory, diamonds are grown quicker than underground. However, the process is still quite slow. It takes a few weeks for the carbon atoms to slowly crystalise on the surface of the diamond seed, and for the rough, real diamond to be formed.
3. Are lab diamonds cheaper than mined diamonds?
Yes, if you compare a mined diamond and a lab grown diamond of the same quality and size, then the lab diamond will usually be more affordable than the mined diamond. The price of a lab diamond can be anywhere between 15% – 60% cheaper than its equivalent size and quality mined diamond.
4. Can lab diamonds be certified?
Yes, lab diamonds can be certified to prove their size, quality and provenance, exactly the same as mined diamonds. Usually, only diamond solitaires above 0.25 carats in weight are certified. This is because diamond certification is an exacting, expensive process and it would add a disproportionate extra cost to smaller, less valuable diamonds. Who certifies lab grown diamonds? They are certified by exactly the same independent gemmological laboratories that also certify mined diamonds. For example, GIA or IGI laboratories.
5. Are lab diamonds the same as cubic zirconia and moissanite?
This is one of the most important things you should know: lab diamonds are NOT the same as cubic zirconia or moissanite which are synthetic imitations made from materials that have nothing to do with diamonds.
Gemmological experts consider lab diamonds to be real diamonds, not imitations.
In fact, since lab diamonds and mined diamonds are the sam, it is impossible to tell them apart. For this reason, and for the sake of consumer transparency, lab diamonds are branded with a microscopic laser mark to distinguish them from mined diamonds. We cannot see this mark with the naked eye, but a jeweller can find it with specialist magnifying equipment.
However, this is not the case with synthetic imitation stones like moissanite or cubic zirconia. No special markings are needed on them because jewellers can instantly tell these materials apart from diamonds, no specialist equipment needed. This is because the weight, appearance and sparkle of synthetic materials like moissanite or cubic zirconia are entirely different to diamonds, and instantly noticeable to experts.
6. What the experts say
A recent Channel 4 program looked at the benefits of lab grown diamonds, saying they are becoming more readily available. The program’s diamond expert explained that lab and mined diamonds are identical and that with lab diamonds “you’re looking at saving up to about 50%”.
7. Are lab diamonds better than mined diamonds?
This question is very subjective. If someone asked you, whether a Mercedes is better than a Tesla, your answer would depend on your taste, budget, needs and how you perceive each car brand. Therefore, it’s good to bear in mind that both mined and lab diamonds have their pros and cons:
- Are a rare, beautiful wonder created by Mother Nature.
- Their perceived value lies in the fact that they are a finite natural resource.
- They are expensive because they are hard to find, and their production involves heavy mining and transportation.
- Some people are concerned about the environmental and social impact of mining on local environments and communities.
Lab grown diamonds…
- Are a fusion of art and technology, a high-tech luxury.
- They are man-made, which can make people perceive them as less rare and alluring than mined diamonds.
- They offer the same quality, look, feel and sparkle as mined diamonds – at a lower price.
- They are considered environmentally sustainable and socially ethical because no mining is required.
Lab diamonds: key takeaways
After reading this article, you will have a good understanding of what lab diamonds are. You’ll also know their pros and cons, and be able to compare them to mined diamonds. At the end of the day, choosing a diamond is largely down to your personal taste. Whatever size, shape or type of diamond you choose, the introduction of lab diamonds to the market simply means that you now have more choices.