Lab diamonds, man made diamonds, lab created diamonds, synthetic diamonds – lab grown diamonds are a gem that goes by many names. Considering this, it’s no surprise that there’s been a bit of confusion surrounding the diamond industry’s hottest rising stone.
“What are lab grown diamonds?” “Are lab grown diamonds the same as mined diamonds?” “Are lab diamonds real diamonds?” Don’t fret if you have questions. In this handy guide, we’ll answer all of your inquiries about man made diamonds to help you determine if a lab grown diamond engagement ring is the right choice for you.
What’s more, we’ll cover the many benefits of purchasing a lab grown diamond over a natural diamond. Financially, ethically, and environmentally superior, you might just find that lab grown diamonds are better in every way. If you don’t know why lab grown diamonds are better than mined diamonds, this blog is here to help. Read on to learn about the endless benefits of lab made diamond jewelry.
What Are Lab Grown Diamonds?
Before we can answer why you should buy lab grown diamonds, it’s important that you understand what they are in the first place. Here’s the deal, lab diamonds are real diamonds. They are exactly the same as their mined counterparts down to their physical, chemical, and optical properties. The biggest difference between lab diamonds and natural diamonds is that lab grown diamonds aren’t associated with the negative human, financial, and environmental implications of mined diamond.
How Are Lab Grown Diamonds Made?
Lab diamonds are made of pure carbon using one of two methods – CVD or High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT).
CVD diamonds are formed via a process called Chemical Vapor Deposition. The CVD process begins when a diamond seed crystal – typically from a high quality lab grown diamond – is placed in a vacuum chamber. Then, a natural gas, such as methane, is added to the chamber where it breaks down into carbon atoms and accumulates onto the crystal. This process eventually forms a diamond.
In addition to gas, the seed is also subjected to high pressures and high temperatures to simulate the process that natural diamonds undergo within the earth’s crust. This helps to remove any unwanted coloration resulting in a gorgeous, colorless diamond.
HPHT diamonds are created in a similar fashion. First, a diamond seed is placed into a carbon source such as graphite or diamond powder where it is then exposed to extreme temperatures and pressure. As the pure carbon melts, a diamond will form around the diamond seed. The substance is then left to cool before it’s sent off to be cut, polished, and set into its final form.
Just like that, lab diamond growers are able to simulate a process that can take millions or even billions of years in nature within just a matter of weeks in a controlled environment, making lab grown diamonds a more sustainable choice.
The Benefits of Lab Grown Diamonds
The benefits of purchasing a lab grown diamond for your engagement ring or fine jewelry piece are vast. Whether you’re concerned about human rights violations, environmental impact, financial burden, or a mix of all three, you’re going to find that lab grown diamonds are a great alternative to mined stones.
Don’t know why lab diamonds are better? We’ll explain each in further detail below.
The Ethical Benefits of Lab Grown Diamonds
With the prevalence of blood diamonds and the inhumane working conditions endured by diamond miners, many shoppers are beginning to wonder if purchasing a diamond is ethical. The mined diamond industry has a dark side, but luckily, couples have more power than ever to choose which type of diamond is right for them.
Lab grown diamonds are the perfect alternative for shoppers who want a real diamond without the ethical implications of a natural stone. As we explained above, lab created diamonds are real diamonds and they are exactly the same as earth mined diamond stones down to their physical, optical, and chemical properties.
Whenever you purchase a lab grown stone, diamond or otherwise, its origin is known.
This is opposed to earth mined diamond stones where the origin could be muddied or completely unknown depending upon the age of the gemstone. Long story short, you might not always be able to determine the source of a diamond featured in an engagement ring or piece of fine jewelry, but you can easily trace a lab grown diamond back to its birthplace.
Part of the reason that it’s so important to know where your stone comes from is so that you can avoid purchasing what are known as “blood diamonds”. Blood diamonds, also referred to as “conflict diamonds”, are the result of the exploitation of diamond-rich countries such as Sierra Leone, Liberia, Angola, The Central African Republic, The Democratic Republic of Congo, and Zimbabwe. What’s more, diamonds from these regions are sometimes obtained through forced labor and human rights abuses.
Luckily, steps have been taken to drastically reduce the number of blood diamonds floating around on the market. However, purchasing a lab grown diamond is the best way to ensure that the center stone in your diamond engagement ring is 100% conflict-free.
The Environmental Benefits of Lab Grown Diamonds
Did you know that some diamond mines are so huge that they can be seen from space? Seriously, the massive Diavik diamond mine in Canada is so big that people have been tracking its growth from beyond the thermosphere for years now. All this considered, it’s easy to imagine the wild impact that diamond mining has on natural landscapes and the environment.
According to the US Geological Survey, “The average stone in an engagement ring is the product of the removal of 200 to 400 million times its volume of Earth.” But the damage doesn’t stop there, the waste rock and tailings produced from mining are typically stored in “tailing ponds”, massive dump sites where mining byproducts become so acidic that they can dissolve copper, lead, and zinc. Unfortunately, this tainted concoction often merges with groundwater where it contaminates and kills wildlife that depends on fresh groundwater to survive.
Habitat destruction in relation to mining is extensive. Our friends at Diamond Nexus put it this way, “The removal of millions of tons of rock, and the contamination of water supplies have far-reaching effects on wildlife habitats surrounding diamond mines. In Zimbabwe, waste from diamond mine tailing has polluted the Odzi and Save rivers, where animals who drink from the river lose their fur and die. In Namaqualand, a region in South Africa and Namibia, a full 65% of the coastline has been mined for diamonds. This coastline is home to coastal bird species and endemic flowers, animals, and insects.”
What’s more, keeping the lights on in diamond mines around the world doesn’t come easy, either. A 2021 statement from the Better Diamond Initiative claimed that the electricity used to mine diamonds could power 1 million U.S. households for a year.
All of these reasons combined make it easy to see why lab grown diamonds are the eco-friendly choice.
The Financial Benefits of Lab Grown Diamonds
Perhaps the most well-known benefit of lab diamonds is their incredible value. Fun fact: you can purchase a lab grown diamond for up to 80% less than a naturally mined diamond of comparable quality and size. That means that you can get more bang and more carat weight for your buck when you choose lab over mined. Which is a pretty sweet deal if you ask us.
To understand the perceived value and rarity of mined diamonds you need to understand the gem’s history. Interestingly, diamonds weren’t always one of the world’s most coveted stones. In fact, it wasn’t until the 1930’s when De Beers launched a major ad campaign that the stone began to attract notoriety. De Beers told shoppers that diamonds were the ultimate symbol of eternal love and the phrase, “A Diamond is Forever,” was born. The trend stuck and couples have been professing their love with diamond engagement rings around the world ever since.
Because of this, De Beers was able to drive up diamond pricing. At the time, the company controlled about 90% of rough diamonds. This allowed them to limit the overall supply of diamonds and thus, increase diamond prices in the process.
The truth is that diamonds aren’t actually rare at all. Here’s how the International Gem Society(IGS) explains it, “Diamonds are the hardest material found on earth. They resist scratching better than anything else. Other than that, they hold no unique distinctions. All gem-quality materials are rare. They compose just a tiny fraction of the Earth. However, diamonds actually number among the most common gems. Ask yourself this: “How many people do you know who own at least one diamond?” Now, ask this question about other gems, like rubies, sapphires, or emeralds.”
Mined diamond diehards will argue that lab grown diamonds hold no resale value. However, the same can be said for mined diamonds. Here’s what the IGS says in regards to the resale value of mined diamonds, “Due to the proliferation on the Internet and the establishment of well-accepted diamond grading standards, margins on cut diamonds have become extremely thin. Not infrequently, diamond dealers make gross margins inside of 5%. Compare that to virtually any other industry. You won’t think selling diamonds makes a great business opportunity anymore.”
At the end of the day, many couples want a diamond gemstone because it is the stone we most associate with true love. If you have your heart set on a diamond for your engagement ring of choice why not choose lab grown? A lab grown diamond allows you to amp up the carat size while remaining on budget all the while allowing you a little extra wiggle room to splurge on the setting or engagement ring design of your dreams.
Where Can I Purchase a Lab Grown Diamond?
Thanks to the wide array of retailers both online and local, purchasing a lab grown diamond engagement ring or lab diamond jewelry is easier than ever before. However, with abundant choices comes responsibility. Be sure to do your research and read our diamond buying guide before shopping for a lab grown stone to ensure that you’re buying from a reputable jeweler. Retailers like James Allen, Clean Origin, and 12FIFTEEN Diamonds are all trusted sources for amazing lab grown stones.