A well-known fact is that there are two ways of getting genuine diamonds. One is by excavating them from the depths of the Earth’s layers – and the other one is to grow artificial diamonds in a lab.
There are a lot of misunderstandings about lab-created diamonds – and plenty of misinformation spreading around when it comes to this topic – the most common one being that lab-made gems are fake.
That’s why we’ve decided to look at this dichotomy of lab-created diamond vs. natural diamond. Some things even managed to surprise us, so be ready to learn some new things regarding this whole natural vs. lab-made debate.
To help you understand this topic, we have done a deep dive into the subject, and we’re bringing you all the information necessary for you to decide which gems are “better.” Without any further ado, let’s jump straight into the article!
What Are Lab-Created Diamonds?
Lab-grown or lab-created diamonds are some of the most talked-about concepts in the world of diamonds and jewelry in general. Some people have an aversion towards these diamonds, but without any particular reason, or to be clearer – simply because these diamonds aren’t “the real thing.”
But that’s the thing: Lab-created diamonds are often indistinguishable from real diamonds, especially if we’re talking about someone who doesn’t have the equipment that would help them pinpoint the differences.
These diamonds are grown in highly controlled lab environments, using advanced technological processes that replicate the conditions under which diamonds develop in the mantle beneath the Earth’s crust.
Essentially, the cultivated diamonds are genuine diamonds with a sped-up growing process. That doesn’t automatically mean that they’re of lower value. They have the same characteristics as the real diamond – the same clarity, color grade, level of hardness on the Mohs scale, and the like.
Diamonds cultivated in a lab are essentially the same thing, just made faster and cheaper than the stones dug up from the depths of an ocean or an excavation site.
Lab-made stones are also every bit as durable as the “real diamonds,” meaning that you won’t have to be fearful of your lab-grown gem lasting shorter than an excavated or natural diamond.
Diamonds are forever, regardless of where they’re made. That’s the biggest – and most common – misconception. People think that the difference in price – that we’ll discuss in-depth later – means that one option is of less quality than the other.
The first lab-grown gem was created in 1954 under a project named “Project Superpressure.” That means that the lab-grown diamonds have been in the making for 68 years now – and that’s not a small amount of time.
People – actual scientists, mind you – have been specializing in this method of making diamonds and know what they’re doing. There’s no reason to be “afraid” of lab-created stones or doubt their quality.
How Are Natural Diamonds Made?
Now that we know how lab-created diamonds are made let’s refresh our memories on the topic of how real diamonds are made and acquired.
Diamonds are essentially carbon that’s been pressurized under extreme thermal conditions and became a diamond as a result of these extreme conditions. For a natural diamond to form, between 1 and 3.3 billion years need to pass – which, as you will agree, is quite a long time.
And that’s one of the biggest reasons why people resorted to making lab-cultivated diamonds instead of excavating natural ones. The second biggest reason is the limited amount of natural diamonds found on Earth.
But, let’s get back on to the main topic: Natural diamonds are formed under strict conditions, and that’s why they’re found only in certain parts of the world, where these specific circumstances were just right.
The thing is, natural stones can sit in the Earth’s crust for millions of years before they’re finally found, excavated, cut, and polished – and that’s how things play out in most cases. So, when a natural diamond is formed, the real problem begins – the excavation.
Natural diamonds are usually excavated from large excavation spots that are either somewhere deep in the soil or under huge bodies of water, such as seas or oceans. These excavations are a bit more complicated – but we’ll get into that.
In order for a diamond to be excavated, expensive machinery and a complicated process need to take place and do their job. That’s essentially what brings up the cost of natural diamonds in your local jewelry store.
Natural diamonds are later on cut and polished – yes, lab-grown diamonds go through the same process – and then shipped off to retailers. On that note, sometimes the price of shipping those diamonds all over the world in parts where diamonds aren’t found is extremely high, too.
But before we’ve managed to grow diamonds in a lab, this was the only real method of acquiring them – and that’s why it remains more popular and is generally the “approach” people prefer.
Related Read: How Can You Tell If A Diamond Is Lab Grown?
Lab-created Diamond Vs. Natural Diamond: Similarities & Differences
Similarities between natural and lab-made diamonds are vast, and there are much more of them than people generally assume.
We know that there are some misconceptions about the similarities and the differences between lab-grown and natural diamonds, but we’re here to tell you all about how similar – and different – they really are.
Let’s start with the obvious – THE LOOKS. Lab-grown and natural diamonds look exactly the same, and in some cases, it’s better to go for a lab-created diamond than for the real one. Why? The technology controls their clarity and makes them pretty much perfect.
The colors that you can expect in natural diamonds can also be acquired with lab-grown ones, so there’s no difference there, either. Earlier in the development of lab-cultivated diamonds, there weren’t many choices; diamonds were all pretty much the same color. But things are looking different today.
Also, the way that these diamonds are cut makes them look identical to the “real deal.”
If somebody takes a natural diamond and a lab-grown one, cuts them in the same manner and makes two identical, let’s say, 1-carat diamonds, you won’t be able to tell the difference.
What about HARDNESS, though? You know that a diamond is the hardest mineral out there. But are lab-grown diamonds as hard as the natural ones?
Despite common misconceptions, the answer is yes. Lab-grown diamonds are also graded with a 10 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, so you don’t have to worry about lab-grown diamonds in that department. They’re not softer than “real diamonds” in any way.
Lastly, lab-cultivated diamonds look as good as the natural ones when embedded into jewelry – and they allow for the same amount of light to penetrate them, giving them the same shine and sparkle.
When it comes to differences, contrary to popular belief – there aren’t many. Some people tend to think that lab-grown diamonds and natural diamonds only look similar – but that’s not true.
Besides the vast number of similarities between lab-made and natural diamonds, only a few real differences make the distinction between these two types of stones a bit easier to define.
The most significant difference is the price – and the number of diamonds you can get for a specific amount of money. Everything else is pretty much the same – from their internal structure to their color, shape, and physical properties.
One thing that people aren’t sure about when it comes to lab-grown diamonds is whether they pass the authenticity test or not. Lab-grown diamonds do pass the authenticity test, and most diamond testers can’t make a distinction between a lab-grown diamond and a natural one.
How? These diamond testers generally check for heat or electrical conductivity. And the conductivity of a lab-created diamond and a natural one is virtually the same.
Diamonds are generally pretty horrible electrical conductors, but diamonds can conduct heat really easily due to the stiff chemical bonds between light carbon atoms. That also goes for lab-cultivated diamonds, so they are essentially good heat conductors, much like natural diamonds are.
Many people mistakenly assume that these devices – diamond testers – can actually differentiate between these diamonds. There’s a method that’s used when a distinction between lab-created and natural diamonds has to be made – and it goes beyond standard diamond tester’s capabilities.
You see, natural gems contain traces of nitrogen, while lab-grown diamonds don’t because they were made in a controlled environment.
If a diamond is tested positive for nitrogen, it means it’s a natural diamond. And if the tests come back negative, that could imply that the gem was created in a controlled environment – the lab. Regular testers that don’t test diamonds for traces of other elements can’t identify a natural or a lab-grown diamond. That’s something to keep in mind.
But be careful – always ask for a certificate.
Some people will try to use the fact that it’s hard to identify a diamond’s origin to their advantage and scam you. How? They will sell lab-grown diamonds at prices that are generally reserved for natural diamonds.
Here’s our advice: If the gem’s price sounds too good to be true – it usually is. Ask for a certificate and a nitrogen test, and be sure to confirm what you’re buying.
Lab-Made Vs. Natural: Price Difference
Price is probably the most talked-about advantage of lab-grown diamonds. It’s common knowledge that lab-grown diamonds – although almost identical to natural stones – are sold for much lower prices.
Diamonds are expensive, to say the least, and what influences their price is the costs of excavating and transporting them worldwide. That greatly impacts the value of a diamond, and as a result, they cost more.
On the flip side, the cost of producing lab-grown diamonds is significantly lower than that of excavating and transporting natural ones. So, the prices of these diamonds are consequentially lower, too.
A natural one-carat diamond can cost anywhere between $1,800 and $1,500, depending on the cut, the clarity level, and the color grade.
On the other hand, one-carat lab-grown diamonds can cost between $800 and $1,000, which is considerably less – even when compared to the lowest prices of natural diamonds.
That is where the lab-grown diamonds shine since they are some of the most cost-efficient ways to get your hands on a real gem. These diamonds look, feel, and are the same as natural diamonds. The only reason why they’re cheaper is the lack of cost related to excavation and transport; it has nothing to do with quality.
- Lab-grown Diamond Price List: Natural Vs. Lab Diamonds Price
- Diamond Price List: How Much Is A 0.1 To 40 Carat Diamond Worth?
Conclusion: Which One Should You Get?
The question of which one to get in the clash of lab-created diamond vs. natural diamond is pretty obvious:
If you value the exclusivity that comes with owning natural diamonds, then you should get one – since there isn’t a way of actually mimicking that. But make sure that you can confirm that you’re getting the “real thing.”
Then again, there aren’t many reasons not to get lab-grown diamonds – especially if you’re not going for the perceived luxury that comes with owning natural diamonds.
If appearance and cost-effectiveness are your primary concerns, there are literally zero reasons for you not to get lab-created diamonds. These diamonds are more budget-friendly, look exactly the same, and have the same properties as natural diamonds do.
Besides that, you’re minimizing the risk of getting involved in the blood diamonds market.
There are countless reasons to go for lab-cultivated diamonds. A significant number of people believe that lab-grown diamonds may essentially replace natural ones in the near future.
We hope that this helped you understand the differences between these two types of diamonds and that it brought you closer to your final decision regarding a diamond purchase!
Read More: Can You Insure A Lab-grown Diamond?