Searching for the perfect forever adornment for you or your loved one is no easy task. Between choosing lab diamonds vs. mined, metal type, and stone quality, there are a lot of decisions to make when shopping for a diamond engagement ring.
At 12FIFTEEN, we want to make the process as simple as possible for you. That’s why we put together a guide to the differences between lab and mined diamonds, based on composition, visual appearance, and price point.
Read this comprehensive guide to gain an expert view on buying lab grown diamonds vs. mined diamonds and find out which is right for you.
What Is a Lab Grown Diamond?
A lab grown diamond is a carbon diamond that has been created in a laboratory. Just like mined diamonds, lab created diamonds are made almost entirely of pure carbon. Lab grown diamonds are exactly the same optically, chemically and physically as their mined counterparts. The only difference between lab vs. mined is how they’re created.
Man made diamonds are grown fairly quickly in a lab from a carbon seed using advanced technology that mimics the natural growth process. This includes either Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) or High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT). The diamond seed slowly forms into a crystalline structure that is as unique as a mined diamond.
Mined diamonds, on the other hand, are carbon diamonds that are formed naturally beneath the Earth’s surface under extreme pressure and temperature. They’re formed over thousands of years and are mined when volcanoes erupt and bring them close to the surface. Diamond mining is performed using several methods including open-pit, underground, and alluvial mining.
While some mining methods include using state-of-the-art equipment and technology that cause less environmental damage, others are what might come to mind when you think of unethical mining practices. This makes buying mined an inferior choice to purchasing lab diamonds.
Are Lab Grown Diamonds Real Diamonds?
Lab diamonds are carbon diamonds that have been grown in a laboratory rather than pulled from the earth. They are as real as natural diamonds, and are the same chemically, physically, and optically as their mined counterpart.
Both lab diamonds and mined diamonds have the same chemical composition, which is a crystalline structure made almost entirely of pure carbon. The exception being trace elements that are introduced during the growth process. For example, some naturally occurring elements can create a blue or yellow hue.
The short answer is that, yes, lab grown diamonds are real diamonds.
Lab Diamonds vs. Natural Diamonds Cost
When it comes to price point, lab diamonds far outweigh natural diamonds as they cost a significant amount less. Lab diamonds cost up to 50% less than mined diamonds. How, you might ask?
Mined diamond corporations, like De Beers, have control over the mined diamond market. This means they’re able to control the cost of mined diamonds too. While they sell the idea that diamonds are rare to increase the price point, diamonds are not rare. They never have been and they never will be.
Laboratory-grown diamonds, on the other hand, are sold at a much lower cost because there is no scarcity tactic. This is especially true when it comes to online jewelers because they’re are able to cut out the middle man, which allows them to sell products at a lower cost.
So when it comes to lab diamonds vs mined diamonds on cost, lab diamonds are the superior choice.
Are lab created diamonds worth anything?
When it comes to the resale value, lab diamonds and mined diamonds have similar long-term value—though diamonds, in general, are not a great investment piece.
Unfortunately, the myth that diamonds have a great resale value is perpetuated by brick and mortar jewelers. The truth is, diamonds—whether lab or mined—drop a significant amount in value the moment you purchase them.
Consumers purchase diamonds because they’re one-of-a-kind and each one is unique in its own way. But once a diamond has been owned, even if it’s in perfect condition, it loses part of its sparkle (the kind you can’t see).
But the value of a lab diamond is worth more than resale value. A lab diamond is worth the love that symbolizes your relationship. And that is something that money can’t buy.
Are Lab Grown Diamonds as Good as Mined Diamonds?
Since lab diamonds are physically, optically, and chemically the same as mined diamonds but cost significantly less and don’t contribute to environmental or ethical concerns, yes, lab diamonds are as good as mined diamonds.
We might be biased, but you could go as far as saying lab grown diamonds are better than mined diamonds. Lab diamonds don’t support the blood diamond trade, offer the same quality at a lower price point, and are more accessible to consumers via online jewelers.
So when it comes to which is better, lab grown diamonds win in every category. Lab diamonds are better in every way. It’s as simple as that.
Can You Tell the Difference Between Lab Grown Diamonds?
When it comes to the visual differences between lab diamonds and mined diamonds, there is none. This is because they are in every way the same—from their chemical composition to their physical properties.
To the naked eye, there is no visual difference. Only a trained gemologist can tell the difference between the two diamonds using special equipment. While diamond testers can sometimes give a false reading and show a non-diamond result, there is no chemical difference between the two.
Are Lab Created Diamonds GIA Certified?
Yes, lab created diamonds are certified by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), though this depends on the jeweler you purchase your diamond from. There are a variety of different certification agencies including IGI, GIA, AGS and GCAL, which are listed on your diamond grading report.
Each of these agencies has a slightly different grading scale for diamond cut and clarity which can make it difficult to get a true sense of gem-quality. While some agencies feature Ideal as their highest cut grade, others use the term Triple Zero. This means an Ideal cut grade from one agency could be very different in proportion from an Ideal cut grade from another.
That’s why at 12FIFTFEEN we’ve created our own independent certification system that is fair, honest and more stringent than any other process out there. In order to earn a good grade, every attribute of the diamond must meet our quality standards. Because our system is far more vigorous than other retailers, you can have peace of mind knowing you’re getting a high-quality diamond.
Learn how to read a diamond cut chart
Lab Diamonds vs. Moissanite vs. Cubic Zirconia
While lab diamonds are becoming well known, there is still some confusion between synthetic diamonds and diamond simulants such as moissanite and cubic zirconia.
Lab diamonds, also known as synthetics diamonds and man made diamonds, are real diamonds that have the same chemical composition as mined diamonds. Diamond stimulants like moissanite and cubic zirconia, on the other hand, have a different chemical composition that mimics the physical appearance of diamonds.
Most diamond simulants look quite different than real diamonds. For example, moissanite is much more sparkly than diamonds, and cubic zirconia yellows over time—though there are some superior diamond simulants like the Nexus Diamond™ alternative which most closely imitates the look and wear of a real diamond.
So while diamond simulants can be a more affordable alternative to diamonds, they are chemically different.
Lab vs. Mined: Which Is Better?
Lab diamonds are the superior option in every way. From their low price point to their durability and environmentally superior growth process, lab diamonds just make sense.
Of course, the choice between the two stones is a personal one. The right diamond engagement ring or piece of fine jewelry should represent your love and your unique style preferences.
So, when considering are lab diamonds better than mined diamonds, we say YES, they are!