Natural vs. Lab Grown Diamonds

Imagine two specimens of faceted crystalized carbon - both are crystal clear and give off a kaleidoscope of spectral colors in direct light. They appear to be identical. One, however, is a billion or more years old and the other was recently grown in a laboratory.

Both are diamonds, of course. The first is a natural diamond created by forces deep within the young Earth. The second is from a laboratory and possesses essentially the same chemical, physical, and optical properties as its natural counterpart.

Lab Created Diamonds

Man-made diamonds suitable for industrial use were first produced in a laboratory in the 1950s, but it was not until the mid-2010s that colorless laboratory-grown diamonds entered the gem and jewelry market in commercial quantities.

Today, laboratory-grown diamonds are created by two methods:

  • High pressure, high temperature (HPHT) diamonds are produced in a laboratory by mimicking the high pressure, high-temperature conditions that form natural diamonds on the Earth. This process produces a distinctively shaped laboratory-grown diamond crystal.
  • The chemical vapor deposition (CVD) method involves breaking down the molecules of a carbon-rich gas, such as methane, into carbon and hydrogen atoms, which then are deposited on diamond seeds to produce a square-shaped, tabular diamond crystal.
lab-grown diamond

Natural Diamonds

Natural diamonds were formed deep in the earth under extreme pressure and high temperature as long as three billion years ago. The volcanic activity brought them to the surface where they lay in a type of volcanic rock formation known as kimberlite pipes, waiting to be mined. Only about five percent of kimberlite pipes contain enough diamond to make them economically feasible to mine.

Lab-Grown Diamonds vs. Natural

Visually, Natural Diamonds and Lab-Grown Diamonds are exactly the same, with the same hardness level and durability. Lab-Grown Diamonds are just as real as diamonds that are mined from the earth. They have shape, size, color, and clarity grades, just like Natural Diamonds. Both Natural and Lab-Grown Diamonds have the same physical and chemical properties and both come with diamond certifications. In 2018, the Federal Trade Commission recognized Lab Diamonds as real.

Pros of Buying a Lab-Grown Diamond

Lab-Grown Diamonds cost approximately 30-50% less than a Natural Diamond, so you can afford a significantly larger diamond. The difference cannot be detected with the naked eye when comparing a Lab-Grown Diamond and a Natural Diamond of equal characteristics of the 4 Cs. Lab-Grown Diamonds have the same physical and chemical properties as Natural Diamonds so they will be just as dazzling.

Cons of Buying a Lab-Grown Diamond

A Natural Diamond has a rarity factor. Generally speaking, a natural diamond will hold its value better than a lab-grown diamond because there is a limited supply. The basic laws of supply and demand maintain that as demand increases, especially with limited supply, the value goes up. Grown Diamonds can be produced, but they might not hold their value over time which means the resale prices could continue to depreciate as the market is flooded.

Which Diamond is More Ethical?

Some think Lab-Grown Diamonds are more ethical because there is no mining involved. However, The Kimberley Process put in place in 2003 has successfully prevented the flow of conflict diamonds. A Lab-Grown Diamond bypasses the environmental and ethical issues that come with mining Natural Diamonds, but there are sustainability issues with Lab-Grown Diamonds as well. The high heat required to produce a lab-grown diamond requires vast amounts of energy.
Today, laboratory-grown diamonds are created by two methods:


So Which Diamond is Best for You?

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing between a Lab-Grown Diamond and a Natural Diamond. The choice is completely up to you. The most popular items to take into consideration when making the choice include your budget, your significant other’s preference, and whether or not you prioritize resale value.

The diamond experts at Burnell’s are here to help you navigate these choices! Come by the store today.