Natural vs. Lab-Grown Diamonds: What You Need to Know

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Natural vs. Lab-Grown Diamonds: What You Need to Know

June 19 2024 – Mike Yarbrough

Natural vs. Lab-Grown Diamonds: What You Need to Know
Natural vs. Lab-Grown Diamonds: What You Need to Know

Diamonds, renowned for their beauty and rarity, have long been a symbol of love and commitment. While natural diamonds have been historically harvested from mine deposits across the globe, a practice that continues today, technological advancements have allowed lab-grown diamonds to become a contender in the fine jewelry and engagement ring market. There are several factors to consider when deciding which type of diamond to select for your wedding ring. In this article we will delve into the pros and cons of natural versus lab-grown diamonds, shedding light on their differences, similarities, and what the experts have to say.

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Natural Diamonds

Natural diamonds, formed deep within the Earth's mantle over many centuries, are the traditional choice for engagement rings and fine jewelry. These stunning gemstones are admired for their beauty, but also for their natural formation. Natural diamonds require intense heat and pressure to form.They often have signature irregularities and varying clarity levels, which affect a diamond’s quality and price point. As they are a naturally-produced gemstone that must be mined from the earth, diamonds are intrinsically linked to various mining operations and labor systems, typically in Africa, Russia, South America, Australia, or Canada.

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Lab-Grown Diamonds

On the other hand, lab-grown diamonds are created in controlled environments that mimic the natural diamond-growing process. These diamonds are chemically, physically, and optically identical to natural diamonds but are cultivated in a matter of weeks rather than millennia. Given their lab-grown status, many are designed for high clarity, but lab-grown diamonds can still have irregularities, therefore they have varying clarity levels like natural diamonds. They also don't directly participate as much in mining operations because lab-grown diamonds are grown from graphite or "diamond seeds" which are very small slivers of diamonds. That being said, lab-grown diamonds still affect the environment as they require a large amount of energy to produce, with the top two countries in the lab-grown diamond production industry being China and India. Given the quicker timeline and less labor-intensive production, lab-grown diamonds allow for a more varied price point and greater availability. However, the man-made component of these gemstones also makes them less unique and rare than a natural diamond.

Are Lab-Grown Diamonds Real?

This is a common question that you may ask when considering a lab-grown diamond ring: are lab-grown diamonds real? The answer is a resounding yes. Lab diamonds possess the same chemical composition and crystal structure as natural diamonds, making them indistinguishable to the naked eye. They exhibit the same brilliance, sparkle, and durability as their natural counterparts.

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What are the main differences between natural and lab-grown diamonds?

While natural and lab-grown diamonds may appear identical, there are a couple key differences between the two.

  1. Origin: Natural diamonds are formed naturally within the Earth, whereas lab diamonds are grown in controlled laboratory settings.
  2. Cost: Lab diamonds typically cost 20-40% less than natural diamonds of comparable quality, making them an attractive option for budget-conscious consumers.
  3. Environmental Impact: Though they require large amounts of energy to produce, lab diamonds have a significantly lower environmental and social footprint compared to their natural counterparts.
  4. Traceability: Natural diamonds may have ethical concerns associated with them, such as labor exploitation and environmental degradation in diamond mining regions. Lab diamonds, however, offer better potential for traceability and transparency, which can give peace of mind to conscientious consumers.

What do the experts say about lab-grown diamonds?

Experts in the diamond industry have recognized the rising popularity and quality of lab-grown diamonds. Organizations such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the International Gemological Institute (IGI) have developed grading standards specifically for lab-grown diamonds, further legitimizing their place in the market.

Should I get a lab-grown diamond engagement ring?

Ultimately, the decision to choose a lab-grown diamond over a natural diamond comes down to personal preference and priorities. If sustainability, affordability, and ethical considerations are important to you, then a lab-grown diamond may be the better choice for your engagement ring. However, if you value tradition and rarity, a natural diamond may hold more sentimental value. There are good options for those looking for a natural diamond and also want to avoid supporting the negative impacts caused by the mining industry. You can either look for an estate diamond ring or use an heirloom diamond in a custom engagement ring setting.

In conclusion, whether you opt for a natural or lab-grown diamond, both choices offer exquisite beauty and lasting symbolism. By understanding the differences between the two and considering your own values and priorities, you can make an informed decision that reflects your unique love story.

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If you’re looking to design a custom engagement ring, whether it be using a natural or lab-grown diamond, we offer a full range of custom designs and stones to create something one-of-a-kind and unique to your style and your love. Check out our custom design gallery and fill out the custom engagement ring design form here to get in touch with our experts and begin creating the perfect ring to symbolize your love.

 

Resources:

https://www.gia.edu/gia-news-research/difference-between-natural-laboratory-grown-diamonds 

https://www.gemsociety.org/article/sustainable-alternative-to-diamond-mining/