Diamonds hold qualities that have been admired for decades and are valued around the world. They have the ability to be a focal piece that inspires a look or serves as a stunning accent. Whether an heirloom piece for special events or a new ring to pop the question, diamond jewelry is perfect for every occasion.
Yet, even with the beauty and joy they emit, diamonds can also be a significant financial investment. When you’re looking for the right diamond there can be a lot of pressure to find the best option and at a price that makes sense. But there is good news! Now, there are more options than ever in the diamond market which makes the search for the perfect one much easier. There is a wide variety of man-made diamonds which are created in a lab.
Lab Created Diamonds vs. Mined Diamonds
While lab created diamonds have only become popular in the market recently, they are an incredibly affordable and environmentally superior option compared to mined diamonds because they are not mined from the earth. The difference between lab diamonds and mined diamonds lies in the sourcing, quality factors, and cost.
Source & Composition
Due to an increase of environmental awareness, consumers have begun to realize the power of their buying decisions. This has sprung the conversation of different stone options.
Diamonds are formed naturally beneath the earth’s surface at extreme depths. They are created from extreme heat and pressure, with the result being a crystallized carbon structure. The process for creating a diamond in a lab is similar, the only difference is the heat and pressure is man made. Both mined and lab diamonds are made of carbon, which means they are identical in every way.
What some people are not aware of though is the danger associated with diamond mining. The consistent demand for diamonds has led to practices that are destructive to landscapes, habitats, and wildlife. In addition to this destruction, the practice of diamond mining results in land displacement, high energy expenditure and other longer-term consequences like acid rock drainage. Along with all of these consequences, many diamond mining practices utilize dangerous employment practices - ranging from unsafe labor practices to human rights abuses.
One of the reasons lab diamonds came about was to combat the negative impacts of diamond mining. By replicating the natural diamond growth process using advanced technology, scientists have been able to create diamonds in a lab. Diamonds created in a lab have the same chemical structure as diamonds found in the earth, meaning they are identical in every way except origin.
Lab diamonds overall are able to keep up with high market demand at a far smaller impact on the environment because they are not mined. When considering diamond options, also consider the power that your buying decision has and the impact it can make.
The 4Cs of Diamond Quality
Since no two diamonds are alike- whether lab or mined- each one will vary greatly on their 4Cs grading. The 4Cs is a scale that all diamonds are graded on to determine their quality. They include carat, cut, color and clarity. The higher a diamond is graded on the scale, the more expensive it is due to its rarity. For example, a diamond that is completely colorless is extremely rare to find or make. The average diamond has at least slight color variation, although it may not be visible to the naked eye.
A misconception some consumers have is that lab diamonds turn out perfectly since they are grown in a controlled environment. This is not the case. Both lab diamonds and mined diamonds vary on the quality scale as well as price point.
The Final Differentiator - Cost and Ethics
Differentiating lab diamonds from mined diamonds may be confusing upon first consideration, but once you understand the main differences, the choice becomes quite clear.
While mined diamond prices continue to soar and the false pretense that they are rare continues to spread, lab diamonds are making their way into the market. Their affordable cost alone makes them worthwhile, and yet there’s so much more value to them.
Not only do the sourcing methods affect the cost of a diamond, but they also are correlated to environmental and ethical consequences as well. Natural diamonds contribute to environmental devastation and perpetuate the use of poor labor conditions for workers. In contrast, the practice of creating lab diamonds is both more ecologically and ethically superior because they are not mined.
We are in an era of change. For the first time, consumers have the opportunity to find brilliant, affordable diamonds that have the power to impact practices around the world. Now that you know the facts, will you buy a mined diamond?
*Price points and environmental facts expressed in this blog were taken from popular online retailers and may vary. Learn more about the environmental impact of mining by visiting our sister blog.