For centuries, many have tried to imitate the dazzling shine of diamonds, using every technique they could think of to no avail. In recent years, however, scientists have managed to replicate the processes that occur deep within the earth’s crust to create spectacular lab-grown diamonds that are so similar to natural diamonds even expert gemologists can’t tell the difference with the naked eye.
Lab-grown diamonds are growing increasingly popular, to the point where many are considering them over natural diamonds. If you’re struggling to decide which diamond is best for you or your partner, we’ve put together this useful guide full of everything you need to know about natural vs lab-grown diamonds.
What is a Natural Diamond?
A natural diamond is known for being the hardest natural substance on earth. Made from carbon, they were formed under extreme pressure and high-temperature deep in the earth around 3 billion years ago. After some volcanic activity took place, the diamonds came up to the surface, embedded in volcanic rock waiting to be mined.
You’ll find that natural diamonds contain traces of other substances such as nitrogen. This gives them a slightly yellow colour. Some may even contain boron, which is very rare, giving them a more blue tone. They also often contain inclusions which are tiny bits of foreign material that were trapped in the diamond while it was forming millions of years ago. These inclusions and traces of substances are what make every natural diamond unique.
What is a Lab-Grown Diamond?
Lab-grown diamonds, or man-made diamonds, are just like natural diamonds except they grow in a lab rather than the earth and can be produced in just a matter of weeks. While the first lab-grown diamonds were produced in the 1950s, it wasn’t until the mid-2010s that colourless lab diamonds entered the commercial jewellery market. It’s taken years to get the process perfected enough where it's near impossible to tell the difference.
These diamonds are created mimicking the high pressure and high-temperature conditions that form natural diamonds to produce a distinctly shaped gem. They also typically require additional treatment such as heat and irradiation to change the colours or enhance the look of it after they’ve been grown.
The Difference Between Real Diamonds and Lab-Grown Diamonds
There is no visual or structural difference between lab-grown and natural diamonds. They have the same types of cut, colour and clarity and are just as tough as each other. Both diamonds use carbon as their main element but lab-grown diamonds lack the nitrogen which is how gemologists can identify the two.
When you’re shopping for diamonds, the best and easiest way to tell is to check the diamond’s certificate. All jewellers must declare whether a diamond is naturally or synthetically created so you know exactly what you’re getting for your money.
Should You Choose a Lab-Grown or a Natural Diamond?
Still wondering which type of diamond you’d prefer to buy? While natural diamonds have a fascinating and unique history behind them every stone is one of a kind and has been forged by the power of nature and will ultimately increase in value, the benefits of lab-grown diamonds vastly outweigh natural diamonds.
Firstly, the price of lab-grown diamonds is significantly less than natural diamonds. Generally speaking, they can cost between 30-60% less than natural gems which makes a huge difference when shopping on a budget. The reason for this huge price difference is simply due to supply. As there is no limit on lab-grown diamonds as they can be produced very quickly and so aren’t as rare. The costs of mining and transportation are also taken out of the equation.
Lab-grown diamonds are also a much more sustainable option. Approximately 250 tonnes of earth needs to be extracted to mine a single carat natural diamond which has led to deforestation in the past. Plus, despite the trade in blood diamonds being drastically reduced over the last two decades, they are still around which is a concern for many people when shopping for diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds have a lot less impact on the planet as scientists use common elements to create them rather than pulling them from the earth. And, customers can be 100% confident that no staff were forced to work in inhumane conditions and that the cost of the diamonds was not used to fund any sort of violence or illegal activity.
Unless you tell someone otherwise, no one will know that you have a lab-grown diamond instead of a natural one because they offer the same brilliant shine and sparkle as a natural one. They can also come in a variety of different colours, sizes and cuts such as round, princess, oval, marquise, pear, cushion, emerald and radiant.
The future of lab-grown diamonds is looking bright and all of our exquisite, lab-grown diamond rings have been made with sustainability, welfare and ethics at the forefront of our minds.