Lab Diamonds vs Natural Diamonds
Today, it can be overwhelming to shop for an engagement ring that suits your future spouse. There’s a broad range of stones in different shapes, sizes, and styles. How does anybody settle on one design?
Now, there’s even more to consider in the stone itself. Do you opt for a lab-grown stone or a natural (mined) diamond?
Thankfully, there’s some good news here. As far as the average jewelry buyer is concerned, there’s not much of a difference between the two stones.
Where these two part ways is in their origin and the environmental and ethical implications on the world we live in. Below, we take a look at the debate between lab diamonds vs natural diamonds.
Lab-Created Vs Natural
How are they created?
Naturally occurring diamonds you see in jewelry stores are formed beneath the crust of the Earth, in the mantle layer. Years of pressure and intense heat caused Carbon to change at the atomic level. The result is the solid form of a diamond.
In some parts of the world, the conditions and temperatures were perfect for diamonds, and volcanic activity pushed the stones up to the surface. Then, people began to mine these areas for precious stones.
On the other hand, a lab-created diamond is grown in a lab. Generally, labs use a process called chemical vapor deposition (CVD). It begins with a small piece of a diamond with the crystalline structure already formed.
Labs often refer to these as seeds. They are pure carbon and can come from either natural diamonds or other lab-grown diamonds.
Next, the lab places the seed in a vacuum, where the carbon molecules begin to assimilate to the seed. In a way, it’s similar to 3D printing.
Once the diamond grows in the chamber, it’s ready for processing. That’s when they cut and polish it, just as they do with a natural stone.
At the chemical level, it’s still pure carbon, so it’s just the same as a natural stone.
The Price and Value
In part, mined diamonds are expensive because they are rare. The common belief is that there’s a finite amount on the planet. Moreover, they are created under unique natural circumstances, which means the characteristics are unique to each stone as well.
Additionally, there are other factors to consider that go into the cost, including the labor and energy required to mine and polish stones. Lastly, many people now consider the sometimes unfortunate origins, control, and advertising of natural diamonds.
On ther other hand, lab-made diamonds are less expensive. In certain cases, the price is up to 50% lower for stones of similar grades. This is because there are completely different supply chains involved. Moreover, modern technology continues to make the process more efficient.
Durability of Lab Diamonds vs Natural Diamonds
Both natural and lab-grown stones are made of carbon. In both cases, they remain the hardest material on the planet, which means they are both durable and difficult to chip.
When it comes to grading lab diamonds vs natural diamonds, many of the same agencies use exactly the same standards and methods for both. This is an important factor to remember because these grading agencies evaluate all of the stones on the same scale.
That means that the differences in terms of the 4Cs are nil.
Lab diamonds are not built. They grow in a similar manner to natural diamonds. In turn, they also take on inclusions (“flaws”) that impact the clarity grade of the stone.
The same is true for color: both stones are graded on the same scale. Visually, there is no difference between natural and lab stones. However, it’s possible for labs to include the elements that impact color, allowing them to grow diamonds of colors quite rare in nature.
Lab Diamonds vs Natural Diamonds: What to Consider as You Shop
When it comes to lab diamonds vs natural diamonds, one of the most important factors to consider is the impact of each. In terms of ethical and environmental standards, natural diamonds are more hazardous to people and the environment.
While growing diamonds in a lab does leave a carbon footprint, the impact is much smaller. When we look at the operation of mines, it doesn’t take much to see the level of destruction and pollution that can come from mining diamonds. Moreover, this goes alongside the murky ethics of the industry.
While there has been progress in the mining industry, the only way to know a diamond is conflict-free is to purchase a lab-created diamond.