Lab Grown Diamonds
Lab Grown Diamonds
Beauty & Quality: Man-made diamonds have the same physical, chemical, and optical properties as mined diamonds.
Value: Lab created diamonds offer excellent value and are slightly more affordable than natural diamonds of comparable size and quality.
What Are Man Made Diamonds?
Man-made diamonds, also known as engineered or cultured diamonds, are grown in highly controlled laboratory environments using advanced technological processes that duplicate the conditions under which diamonds naturally develop when they form in the mantle, beneath the Earth’s crust. These man-made diamonds consist of actual carbon atoms arranged in the characteristic diamond crystal structure. Since they are made of the same material as natural diamonds, they exhibit the same optical and chemical properties.
Lab grown diamonds are now readily available in a variety of colorless ranges. Cultured diamonds are also available in fancy colors that are considered very rare in nature, including popular hues of vivid fancy yellow. Fancy colored lab diamonds sell at comparatively reasonable prices compared to their natural colored diamond counterparts.
How Are Lab Diamonds Made?
Lab created diamonds are grown from the tiny carbon seeds of pre-existing diamonds. Advanced technology – either extreme pressure and heat or a special deposition process known as CVD – mimics the natural method of diamond formation. Some lab diamonds grown through deposition may also undergo pressure and heat treatment after they are grown. Lab grown fancy colored diamonds are formed when small amounts of specific trace elements are present during the growth phase of the diamond, just like in nature. In both white and fancy colored lab diamonds, the exact composition of trace elements may differ from their natural diamond counterparts. Lab diamonds can only be distinguished from natural diamonds using specialized equipment that can detect the minor differences in trace elements and crystal growth.
Lab Created Diamonds vs. Natural Diamonds
Lab grown diamonds display the same physical, chemical, and optical characteristics as natural diamonds, and exhibit the same fire, scintillation, and sparkle. Using a jewelry loupe, man-made diamonds are nearly impossible to differentiate from natural diamonds. Lab diamonds may exhibit different trace elements than natural diamonds that do not affect the appearance of the diamond. Lab grown diamonds can be distinguished from natural diamonds only with tests using specialized equipment. Lab created diamonds available for purchase should always come with a gem certification identifying them as laboratory grown. Lab created diamonds are an eco-friendly choice given that no mining is required, and they are 100% conflict free.
Lab Grown Diamonds vs. Diamond Simulants
It is important to note the major distinction between lab diamonds and diamond simulants. Diamond simulants, such as cubic zirconia and moissanite, look similar to diamonds but are not true carbon crystals. Simulants do not have the same chemical and physical properties as natural diamonds and therefore sell at much lower prices than man made diamonds. Simulants can be distinguished from natural or lab grown diamonds using only the naked eye. Natural and lab grown diamonds have thermal conductivity properties that differentiate them from cubic zirconia with a handheld diamond tester.
Customers looking for a mining-free alternative or a larger stone within their budget may prefer lab diamonds as they are generally at a lower price point compared to naturally mined options. As with any gemstone, the resale value can vary over time. Since lab diamonds are a more recent introduction to the market, there is more uncertainty on future pricing, when compared to natural diamonds.
Since they are physically and chemically the same as naturally mined diamonds, lab created diamonds do not have a lower durability and will not get cloudy over time.
How Long Does It Take To “Grow” A Diamond?
When comparing lab-grown versus nature-grown diamonds, it’s fascinating to consider the differences in time spent “growing” diamonds. Part of what makes diamonds alluring to people is their history.
The time it takes to create a lab grown diamond depends on its size. Lab-grown diamonds can take approximately 6 to 10 weeks to develop in a laboratory.
Diamonds close enough to the earth’s surface to be mined today were formed in nature between 1 billion to 3.3 billion years ago. This alone is one reason why they’re so valuable — they’re artifacts from before the dawn of the human race. Think about the symbolism behind that and how many years they’ve been around — a pretty intense symbol to grace an engagement ring, a pair of earrings or a necklace.
Another interesting difference is the carat weight ranges of lab-created versus organic diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds top out around 20 carats, while some of the largest pieces of rough organic diamond are upwards of 400 carats. For most consumers, diamonds that big are just a bit outside budget, but it’s still fascinating to see some of the monster diamonds nature produces.