Say goodbye to outdated traditions. Lab diamonds are the new, new. At up to 50% less and free of environmental and ethical concerns, lab diamonds are paving the way for a more conscious future.
Shopping for the perfect lab diamond engagement ring or diamond jewelry can be tricky enough—not to mention choosing between the types of diamonds.
If you’re considering lab but aren’t sure what the major differences are, we put together a guide to the biggest differences between lab grown vs. mined diamonds. From their chemical composition to the pros and cons, read on to learn about lab diamonds.
What Is a Lab Grown Diamond?
Lab grown diamonds are carbon diamonds that have been grown in a laboratory, much like flowers grown in a greenhouse. They are as real as natural diamonds, and they sparkle just as brilliantly for a fraction of the cost.
Like earth-mined diamonds, lab created diamonds are made almost entirely of pure carbon. Each diamond is unique and each one contains trace elements that can affect the color. For example, some naturally occurring elements can create blue or yellow diamonds.
Although lab grown diamonds are exactly the same optically, chemically and physically as their mined counterparts, they’re created very differently. Man made diamonds are grown fairly quickly in a lab from a single carbon seed. Using advanced technology that mimics the natural growth process—either Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) or High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT)—the diamond seed slowly forms into a crystalline structure. This is different from mined diamonds which take thousands of years to form in the ground.
What Is a Mined Diamond?
Mined diamonds, on the other hand, are carbon diamonds that are formed naturally deep beneath the Earth’s surface under extreme pressure and temperature. These diamonds take thousands of years to grow and are mined when volcanoes erupt and bring them close to the surface.
It’s well known that mining for diamonds is an unethical and environmentally harmful activity. Not only do diamond mines disturb the natural ecosystem, but the mined diamond industry has supported the unethical blood diamond trade.
When a conflict diamond is mined, the rough diamond enters the supply chain, where it is cut and polished to make it indistinguishable from any other gemstone. Profits from the blood diamond trade are then put back into the illegal operation as rebels purchase weapons and war materiel with the funds.
Mining is performed using several methods including open-pit, underground, and alluvial mining. Open-pit and underground mining are the two versions that most people are familiar with. These processes are most often performed by mining companies using state-of-the-art equipment and technology. The third most common method, alluvial mining, is what might come to mind when you think of unethical mining practices. This version of extraction is performed by hand, often resulting in grueling physical labor and poor working conditions that can be easily exploited by the wrong people.
Whatever process is used, the local ecosystem, communities, and wildlife are negatively impacted. This makes buying mined an inferior choice to purchasing lab diamonds.
Pros of Buying a Lab Diamond
Buying lab diamonds just makes sense. Not only are they better for the environment and people, but they cost a fraction of the price of mined without compromising chemical properties.
To explain further, we put together a few of the most important advantages of buying lab diamonds. From price point to environmental concerns, read on to learn why lab diamonds are better in every way.
1. Lab Diamonds Cost a Fraction of the Price
First and foremost, mined diamonds are expensive—not to mention the myth mined diamond companies spread about needing to spend 3 months’ salary. Love is not bought, and we don’t support overspending for the sake of trends.
Lab diamonds cost up to 50% less than mined. Imagine what you could do with the money you save. Use it toward a down payment? Or how about a once-in-a-lifetime experience for your honeymoon? The options are endless.
Or, go all-out and get the carat weight of your dreams from the same price of a smaller mined diamond.
2. Lab Diamonds Are Better for the World
Lab diamonds are associated with the blood diamond trade or the unethical and environmental concerns of mined diamonds. That means when you buy lab, you’re supporting a more sustainable future. One where consumers use their purchases to create a better world.
The mined diamond market, on the other hand, wreaks havoc on the environment and workers. Even diamonds that are labeled conflict-free have a negative impact on the world. “Conflict-free” diamonds are run through the Kimberely Process. And while they might sound better, this process is not fool-proof.
The Kimberley Process is a certification scheme used to determine whether a country’s diamonds are conflict-free. The number of blood diamonds available on the U.S. market has dropped significantly since the Kimberley Process Certification was enacted. However, the issue of conflict diamonds has not been abolished, and some regions such as Zimbabwe still export stones that are considered suspect due to international concern over human rights abuses and forced labor.
This means the only way to guarantee your diamond is free of harm and the blood diamond trade is to purchase lab.
3. Lab Diamonds Are Chemically the Same
There is a lot of misconception about the chemical composition of lab diamonds. This is partly due to the term “synthetic diamond” used, which implies they are fake though they are just as real as mined diamonds.
Both lab diamonds and mined diamonds are made of carbon atoms and are optically, chemically and physically the same. It’s as simple as that. This means there are both the same when it comes to durability. Both rank a 10 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness, making them the hardest substance on Earth.
And when looking at the fact that lab diamonds cost less and are better for the world with the exact same chemical composition, the choice becomes simple. Why spend more and support the blood diamond trade when there’s a better option?
Can You Tell the Difference Between a Lab vs. Mined Diamond?
The simple answer: no. Because laboratory-grown diamonds and mined diamonds feature the same physical properties, there is no visual difference between the two. This means you cannot tell the difference between a lab diamond vs. mined diamond to the naked eye or to a trained gemologist.
Both lab and mined diamonds are completely unique, meaning no two are alike. Each one has its own inclusions and blemishes. This is what makes choosing the right diamond such an exciting and cherished experience. But if looking at the same diamond cut grade, one lab one mined, there is no physical or chemical difference between the two.
Read our comprehensive guide to the diamond cut scale
Lab Grown Diamond vs. Moissanite
Moissanite is a beautiful stone. It’s sparkles brilliantly and is an affordable alternative option—but most people want the look of a diamond and moissanite just doesn’t cut it.
Moissanite is doubly refractive meaning it has nearly double the fire and brilliance of a diamond. This is what makes them so sparkly and makes them easy to tell apart from a diamond side by side. People refer to this as the “disco-ball” like sparkle as it features a variety of colors.
Lab diamonds, on the other hand, are singly refractive. This means they feature the perfect amount of brilliance that looks stunning in any lighting. So while moissanite is a great diamond alternative option for those on a budget, it doesn’t look much like a diamond at all.
Lab Grown Diamonds vs. Real Diamonds
Lab diamonds—whether HPHT diamonds or CVD) are real diamonds. They are the superior option to mined diamonds given the advantages of cost and environmental and ethical benefits. The only difference is how they’re grown and their environmental sustainability.
So when considering the differences between lab diamonds and mined diamonds, choose lab. You can get more for your money and rest easy knowing you didn’t contribute to the blood diamond industry.
Need help deciding which lab grown diamond is right for you? Search our inventory of high-quality lab diamonds, or reach out to a dedicated advisor.