There’s common questions that people have about lab created diamonds.
We’ve put together an informational/FAQ guide to make it easy to learn about lab grown diamonds, whether you’re just generally interested, or whether you’re looking at buying a lab grown diamond of your own.
Summary – FAQ On Lab Grown Diamonds
– Lab grown diamonds are 100% real (they are not a form of fake diamond)
– Lab grown diamonds are made in a lab from a seed or sliver of real diamond material – there’s different methods that are used to grow and make lab grown diamonds
– Following the growing stage, diamonds undergo, cutting, polishing, grading and so on
– Reputable sellers then send their diamonds to be certified independently
– Lab grown diamonds might be on average 20 to 40% cheaper than real diamonds for various reasons, and different lab grown diamonds are priced based on their quality
– Lab grown diamonds might hold less of their original value over the long term compared to real diamonds
– When weighing up the eco friendliness of lab grown diamonds, they might be more eco friendly in terms of less land degradation, less water use, and less overall pollution and waste.
But, there is some question over how much electricity they use, and their level of greenhouse gas emissions.
– There is also more information required on the exact waste by products produced, and disposal procedures.
A 1 carat lab grown diamonds might use the amount of electricity an average US household uses in a week.
Using renewable energy for lab grown diamonds might be an option in the future
– It’s questionable whether lab grown diamonds are more ethical than mined diamonds – mined diamonds can create jobs for people in low income areas, and the human rights standards of mines have generally increased over the last few decades.
Some mining operations also put money back into local communities.
– The thing about lab grown diamonds is you know the exact lab it has come from – there probably won’t be any questions of the supply chain or human rights issues
– It’s good to be aware of what the different marketing phrases mean for diamonds – lab grown or lab created diamonds are some of the most common phrases used that are approved by regulation in some countries to refer to lab grown diamonds
– There are instruments/devices available that can detect a difference between lab grown and natural diamonds – lab grown diamonds for example may show a phosphorescent glow.
Very small differences might exist in trace elements and crystal growth between mined and lab grown diamonds
– Spectrometers and X-rays are examples of specialized testing equipment that might be able to pick up the above differences
– Some popular third party certification parties for lab grown diamonds might be – GIA, AWDC, IGI, GSI, IIDGR, AGS, or HRD.
You should get a certificate from the seller when buying the diamond to know it’s been third party certified
– A good seller might also tell you who their supplying lab is
– Doing your research before buying, asking questions of a jeweller or seller, asking for certification certificate/s, and enquiring about suppliers might be good ways to do due diligence before buying a lab grown diamond.
You can also do other things like look at the appearance of the diamond, and find details on the hardness, clarity, color, carats, cut, tests and so on
– Recycled, re-cut and second hand diamonds might be other alternatives other than lab grown diamonds to mined diamonds
What Are Lab Created Diamonds?
They are diamonds created in a lab environment/lab conditions.
Are Lab Created Diamonds Real Or Fake?
They are 100% real.
They are not a form of fake or simulant diamond like a cubic zirconia or Moissanite diamond.
They have the exact same carbon structure and are made of crystalized carbon just like naturally mined diamonds – they are the same in every way physically, chemically, and optically.
Difference Between Lab Created Diamonds & Other Types Of Diamonds
Read more about the different types of diamonds in this guide.
How Are Lab Created Diamonds Made?
In general, a small seed or sliver of diamond is required, and this seed diamonds expands with the right temperature, pressure and chemical reactions (with gases like Methane) in a lab (these conditions mimic geological diamond formation conditions in the Earth’s mantle).
Labs can control growth (growth of carbon molecules on the seed diamond) to get the right shape and size of gem quality diamond in the space of a few months.
To get technical, the different methods to make lab created diamonds are:
Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD)
High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) – HPHT diamonds are made using one of three manufacturing process: a belt press, the cubic press, and the split-sphere (BARS) press
Following creation, all diamonds undergo cutting, polishing and grading to achieve certain features in regards to cut, carat size, color, and clarity.
They should then be sent to a certification lab for an independent diamond certification.
Are Lab Created Diamonds Cheaper In Price Than Mined Diamonds?
Yes – they are anywhere from 20 to 40% cheaper depending on the color of the diamond.
The reason they are cheaper is not only because lab costs are cheaper than mining costs, but because mined diamonds are considered a more finite, rarer and unique resource.
It’s expected in the future as Chinese labs and other labs set up in greater numbers, the price of lab created diamonds might drop further because of an increased supply, and how quickly and cheaply they may be able to be produced compared to mined diamonds (which take billions of years to form beneath the earth’s surface).
This is speculative though.
Adadiamonds has this to say about the price of lab grown diamonds:
Lab diamonds are also priced based on their quality; a D IF lab diamond will be much more expensive than an H SI1 lab diamond of the same size.
It takes about 1 week to grow a 1 carat diamond.
However, not every diamond grown in a machine is of gemstone quality; in fact, the failure rate, particularly for large lab diamonds, is quite high.
It will always be more expensive to grow a diamond than it is to mine a diamond.
The high costs of mined diamonds are often a result of market inefficiencies resulting from a natural diamond changing hands 10-15 times from mine to market before ending up in a piece of fine jewelry.
The financial costs of diamond growing, plus the time it takes to grow diamonds, insures that lab grown diamonds will not “flood” the market.
Mined diamonds come out of the earth in the millions of carats per year; diamonds come out of labs in the thousands.
Due to the efficient nature of the lab diamond market, lab grown diamonds are often available to consumers for 30-40% lower prices than equivalent quality mined diamonds.
Are Lab Created Diamonds Worth Anything? (Do They Lose Or Hold Their Value Over Time?)
As a very very rough guide, a naturally mined diamond might hold 50 to 60% of it’s value when trying to re-sell, and for some types of diamond, this value can increase over time.
Comparatively, a lab created diamond might only hold 20 to 30% of it’s value on re-sale, or less.
It really does depend on the type of diamond though and where/who it came from.
Overall, naturally mined diamonds tend to hold or increase their value much more than lab created diamonds.
Ritani, in their guide comparing and identifying differences between lab and mined diamonds, points out the lack of re-sale value for lab grown diamonds:
Pros & Cons Of Lab Created Diamonds
Read more about the pros and cons of lab created diamonds in this guide.
Are Lab Created Diamonds More Eco Friendly Than Mined Diamonds?
It is generally thought they are (by using less resources, causing less pollution and using less land, water and energy).
The amount of land moved and water used for mining is far greater, and pollution from mining is expected to be greater.
Labs do use a lot of electricity though – so more research needs to be done on exactly the energy footprint and greenhouse gas emissions of diamond labs.
It is thought though that in the future at least some of the electricity used by diamonds labs can come from renewable resources (some already partially use solar power).
We also need more information on the exact waste by products and disposal procedures of labs as not much is known by the public about it.
Adadiamonds has this to say about the eco friendliness of lab created diamonds:
In stark contrast to mined diamonds, lab created diamonds are sustainable, vegan, and eco-friendly.
The growth of diamonds only requires two main ingredients: carbon & electricity.
Today, the most efficient diamond producers require approximately 250kWh of electricity to grow a 1 carat diamond, which is the roughly the same amount of electricity the average US household consumes in a week.
Furthermore, diamonds can be grown wherever renewable energy is available.
Are Lab Created Diamonds More Ethical Than Mined Diamonds?
But, it can be very overstated how much diamond mining these days is unethical (in regards to conditions and labor) or related to conflict (funding civil wars or military) compared to the past. Most of it isn’t.
It’s worth noting diamond mines have been one of the only ways out of poverty in some places like Botswana, and can support local economies in critical ways.
There are also mined diamond sellers that put a lot of money back into local mining communities in countries in places like Africa.
But, with lab created diamonds, you 100% know where the diamond was created and that it wasn’t mined by children or in unethical conditions.
One ethical question to ask with lab created diamonds is where the seed or sliver diamond raw material comes from – but the answer to this question is not widely known.
Marketing Phrases Used With Lab Grown Diamonds
The FTC regulates how companies can market lab grown diamonds in the US.
They are continually updating what words can and can’t be used, and how they can be used.
Regulations have been relaxed to an extent, probably because both diamond types are made of crystalized carbon, and aren’t different in structure like fake or simulant or hybrid diamonds can.
It’s generally good practice that a company refers to lab grown diamonds as ‘lab grown’ or ‘lab created’, and that they let you know it isn’t a mined diamond.
But, as a consumer, it’s good practice to dig down beneath the marketing terms and look at what certificates a diamond comes with as well as talking to the diamond seller direct and asking them about a diamond test.
How To Test Lab Created Diamonds – Do They Pass Diamond Test?
Jewelers can access instruments/technology that can test lab created diamonds and identify them from mined diamonds.
An expensive device developed by DeBeers for diamond dealers is an instrument which uses ultraviolet light to detect the difference between natural and lab-grown diamonds.
Lab-grown diamonds will show a strong phosphorescent glow that is not common to natural diamonds.
Lab grown … 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 can be made to the same level of clarity, color and brilliance as naturally mined stones.
In fact, these man-made diamonds are almost indistinguishable unless they are subjected to specialized testing equipment like spectrometers and X-rays.
Certifications For Lab Created Diamonds – GIA Certification & More
There are reputable/trustworthy lab grown diamond sellers, and you can get certificates from them with your purchase to guarantee what you are buying.
For example, some popular third-party certification companies might be GIA, AWDC, IGI, GSI, IIDGR, AGS, or HRD.
You should always confirm you are getting the right certificate when buying diamonds to certify what you’re buying.
Sellers should be open about this.
If you want to go the extra step, ask the jewellery retailer who their supplier lab is – they should have a good relationship with them and trust them to deliver quality diamonds – as each lab is different with what they offer.
For example, The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) can identify stones that laboratories have produced using chemical vapor deposition (CVD) or High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT). … [this is known as the nomenclature].
How To Make Sure You Know What Type Diamond You Are Getting
The best way is to do your research beforehand, make sure you ask your jeweler as many questions as you need to so you are sure they are knowledgeable themselves and use quality suppliers, and make sure you get a certificate (from a recognised third party inspection organisation) that has all the relevant details you need to know about the diamond.
These details may include (but aren’t limited to) where the diamond was mined or formed/created, the hardness, the clarity, the color, the carats, the cut and any tests (refractory for example) done on the diamond.
Regardless of the type of diamond and where it came from, the cut can really set apart different diamonds in terms of how they look.
You may also want to visually inspect the diamond before purchasing, or if purchasing online, make sure it comes with some type of return policy in case you are dissatisfied.
Alternatives To Lab Grown & Mined Diamonds
Recycled diamonds, re-cut and second hand diamonds are an option to decrease your environmental footprint, and maintain your ethics
Lab grown diamonds aren’t the only option if you are looking for alternative diamonds to mined diamonds.
Using recycled metals and casings for jewelry can also be eco friendly and more sustainable.
Should You Get Lab Grown Diamonds?
If purchase price is a priority for you – then yes.
If long term value and resale value is important – then no.
Refer to the above guide about the pros and cons of lab grown diamonds if you want a more comprehensive of what you may or may not be getting with a lab created diamond.
Buying Lab Grown Diamonds