Looking for the perfect place to buy lab grown diamonds online?
You're in the right place! In this Learning Jewelry guide I'll answer common questions like:
- What Are The Best Stores To Buy a Lab Grown Diamond Online?
- What Should You Look For When Buying A Lab Created Diamond?
- How Do You Know You're Getting A Good Deal?
- What Are The Red Flags To Watch Out For When Buying?
Top 4 Best Places Buy Lab Grown Diamonds Online
If you need the list quick, here are my top picks for finding quality lab-created diamonds from reputable online dealers. Keep reading for more information about each of these shops.
There's a lot of misinformation when it comes lab-created diamonds. They are also referred to as synthetic diamonds, which is where a lot of misinformation comes from to begin with.
Synthetic diamonds and lab grown diamonds are one in the same. They ARE real and natural diamonds, but have been grown in a matter of weeks rather than billions of years like a mined diamond.
Their optical properties and physical properties are the same. The main difference between the two diamonds is their origin. There are two methods a lab diamond can be grown: chemical vapor deposition (CVD) and high pressure high temperature (HPHT).
In HPHT methods, a diamond seed (fragment of a diamond) is placed under extremely high pressure and temperatures similar to how diamonds would grow if they were in the ground. The diamond seed is placed into a chunk carbon and put under these conditions. The carbon melts and becomes bonded to the diamond seed, creating diamond crystals after it cools.
In CVD methods, they take a piece of diamond seed (commonly an HPHT diamond) and place it in a chamber. They fill the chamber with carbon gases, which ionize into a plasma-like substance that breaks down bonded molecules. The leaves the carbon to form around the seed and begin to crystallize.
#1. Pick: Buying Lab Grown Diamonds At James Allen
Why Buy With James Allen?
James Allen has one of the largest online catalogs of loose lab diamonds. They offer over 7000 loose diamonds of various diamond shapes.
The catalog consists of lab created diamonds as small as .32 carats up to 4 carats! Each of these lab created diamonds have different diamond grades.
Some are even ideal cut!
Each lab diamond on James Allen is a real diamond, not a diamond simulant like cubic zirconia. Each lab diamonds is certified by the IGI (International Gemological Institute) so you know you're getting what you pay for.
Typically, with natural diamonds, we want a certification with the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) or AGS (American Gem Society). But in the case of synthetic diamonds, IGI certifications do a better job of pinpointing exacts, rather than broadly speculating, like GIA does with lab diamonds.
Diamond prices at James Allen are always cheaper than your popular diamond retailers at brick and mortar locations. And lab created diamonds are known to be between 20%-30% cheaper than mined diamonds, even if they have the same crystal structure and finished product.
So if you combine James Allen's great pricing + the discount you can get round one carat lab created loose diamond $2000 less than it's mined counterpart from other stores.
Read More >> James Allen full review, should you buy from them?
James Allen's customer service team is highly educated. You can ask their team of gemologists anything about lab created diamonds from high pressure high temperature (HTPT) techniques to their resale value, which we'll discuss a little later.
This company is one of the most well respected online retailers in the diamond industry for both high quality and affordable diamonds with a fantastic lifetime warranty that covers wear and tear and routine maintenance.
#2. Buying Lab Grown Diamonds At Clean Origin
Why Buy With Clean Origin?
Clean Origin is one for best places to buy lab grown diamond companies. Unlike others on our list, they ONLY sell only lab diamonds. They offer a large selection of over 12,000 lab created loose diamonds from .30 carats up to a whopping 6.36 carat!
They definitely offer the best selection of lab created diamonds. Not only does Clean Origin make lab created engagement rings, they also have a large selection of lab created wedding bands and diamond jewelry.
They also offer 360 viewing for their diamonds and even some fancy techniques for viewing. You can play small clips of different angles in a loop as well as magnify any area on the diamond.
Their customer service is available via live chat, email, or phone. They have a 100 day money back guarantee to let customers know that they wholly stand by their product and quality. This return policy is unprecedented in the world of diamonds, which is a great way of gaining customer trust.
Clean Origin only ships to the United States, which is a bummer. If you are outside the US, we recommend James Allen, our #2 pick for lab grown diamonds. .
You don't have to worry about missing a sale and not buying at the right time at Clean Origin because their prices are fixed. That means no waiting until a certain date to snag a cheap diamond. This is good because most "sale diamonds" have been picked over and the best ones are taken as soon as it starts.
Since Clean Origin only produces lab diamonds, we're just going to compare them to the price of our previous recommended stores lab grown diamonds.
Keeping the same Excellent cut grade, H color grade, SI1 clarity grade, and one carat round diamond, let's see how Clean Origin's prices compare.
When compared to our regular chart topper, James Allen, Clean Origin's diamond comes out $544 cheaper. Clean Origin's diamonds are cheaper than both James Allen and Ritani.
But, price isn't everything. A warranty can be a big deal breaker when it comes to engagement rings. Clean Origin offers a manufacturer's warranty, which my least favorite kind of warranty.
Essentially, if your ring has a defect in the design of it, they'll cover it. But any routine maintenance your ring will need, such as rhodium plating white gold, you'll be out of pocket every time.
Read More >> Clean Origin full review, should you buy from them?
#3. Buying Lab Grown Diamonds At Ritani
Why Buy With Ritani?
Ritani is a famous designer and online retailer of loose natural and lab-created diamonds. They carry a selection of just over 3000 different lab created diamonds of varying diamond grades.
Their carat weights are as low as .30 and as large as a 4 carat diamond. It is worth noting that they mainly carry princess cut or round diamonds. They have other fancy shapes, but very few in categories like hearts or radiant diamonds.
Like all online retailers, you're going to save more cash than you would going to a physical location. You don't pay for any of the work and you can just purchase a loose diamond instead of an entire engagement ring.
But with Ritani being a designer name, you'll want to know how they fare out as far as online price and in comparison to their mined diamonds.
They don't have a one carat lab created diamond with a clarity of SI1, so we had to use an SI2. The other diamond grades are the same as the diamonds we looked at with James Allen.
Ritani's lab diamonds are also IGI certified. The price difference between the natural and lab diamond is going to be $3331. And let's not forget it's not even what we're looking for.
This is where the designer aspect plays in. When you're a name brand like Ritani, you can charge a premium for your diamonds, simply for being popular.
As you can see, the Ritani mined diamond is more expensive than James Allen's diamond, even if it has a lower clarity grade.
I'm not crazy about the 360 viewer from Ritani, because many of them don't even have one. They're inconsistent with the way they show their diamonds. Some offer 360 view, HD photos, or nothing at all. Sometimes it's a combo. I'd much prefer if they were all standard, but everyone can get HD photos within 2 days, according to Ritani's website.
You can't toggle it back and forth either. The images they provide are still high quality and will show any inclusions and characteristics in the stone. Customer service at Ritani is only available during weekdays, including live chat.
If you're still a little nervous about buying a diamond online, Ritani offers appointments to come see the diamond you've picked out at one of their showrooms in the United States.
Due to COVID and other retailers, Ritani has discontinued in-store viewing. We will update when it is reinstated.
They don't have places everywhere to preview the ring, so you'll have to check their locator system. If you decide you don't want the ring, they scrap it and return the diamond to their inventory.
There is no obligation to buy. They ask to keep a card on file so they can charge if you decide you want it. The preview service is free and unique, making it a big selling point for Ritani customers.
Lastly, Ritani has a decent warranty for their engagement rings and wedding bands, not diamond jewelry. They require that you "activate" your warranty through their website within 45 days of purchase.
Minorly inconvenient, but it's still not a dealbreaker. Plus, they don't actually invalidate it, they just want you to register for it. Once you enter the info to activate the warranty, you are covered. Now, the warranty only applies to Ritani branded rings and not any other designer settings they may carry, so be careful with that.
The warranty gives you 1 free ring resizing within the first year, just in case it wasn't right the first time. It'll cover stone tightening, cleaning, and rhodium plating once a year for life. This warranty is free, but is voided if someone else works on it or if you fail to register within 45 days.
#4. Buying Lab Grown Diamonds At Brilliant Earth
Why Buy With Brilliant Earth?
Brilliant Earth is one of the most popular online diamond retailers. Like James Allen and Ritani, they carry a catalogue of both mined and lab grown diamonds. Brilliant Earth is most famous for taking the extra step in ensuring that their diamonds are conflict-free.
If you've ever heard of blood diamonds, you might know that their has been many controversies over diamond mining in some places in Africa. The Kimberley Process was created to make sure commercial diamonds aren't sourced from these places.
However, while the KP improved the selling of conflict diamonds greatly, it still isn't foolproof. Brilliant Earth goes further than that. They know every bit of history and origin of their diamonds and keep detailed records.
This means that they don't only come from places of war, but other terrible conditions in which miners come under while still being technically conflict-free. Thankfully, lab-created diamonds aren't mined, so you can trace the supply chain quite easily and know they weren't used to fund civil wars or other heinous acts.
Brilliant Earth carries lab diamonds from .30 carats all the way up to 7 carats! They have the largest collection out of all of our retailers with over 40,000 different diamonds. They also have lab created colored diamonds, which is unique for lab diamonds.
But how does a lab diamond from Brilliant Earth measure up in price? Well, let's take a look.
Brilliant Earth's lab diamond is $154 more expensive than Clean Origin, thus making Clean Origin the place to get cheap lab created diamonds. This diamond is also $344 cheaper than buying a lab diamond at James Allen. But let's see what kind of warranty they have?
Well, the answer is that they only have that manufacturer's warranty, which I don't like. It only cover if there's a defect in the design. And if there is, you have to pay $50 for shipping for them to evaluate if there's a defect.
If they deem so, the $50 is refunded to you. If not, you don't get the $50 and they might ask if you want the to go ahead with the repairs as well. Also, if the ring settings weren't manufactured by Brilliant Earth, they don't have this protection either.
They have an Extended Service Plan you can purchase, but it only lasts three years. The prices of the plans are dependent on the setting and you don't know ahead of purchase. You can only purchase the plan over the phone, which is very inconvenient and non-transparent in my opinion.
How To Save Money When Buying Lab Grown Diamonds?
James Allen is #1 on my list when it comes to the lowest price for a lab diamond. While you can't save too much more money with lab grown diamonds outside of buying with them, there are a couple of tricks I can reveal that'll give you the edge in having a lab grown engagement ring for even less.
You see, while there's nothing we can really do to cheapen out the cut of a lab diamond, we can work with the color. Diamond color ranges from colorless (most expensive) to fancy yellow (lease expensive).
Once you enter a L-Z color grades, you're looking at yellow diamonds. A J color graded diamond may look faint yellow in a white gold setting, but put it in a yellow gold setting and it looks colorless. You can save on color grade cost by changing the setting to yellow gold.
You can do the same thing with clarity as well with mined diamonds, but it's not often needed with lab diamonds. One of the minor differences between lab diamonds and mined diamonds is their inclusions. Lab diamonds have metallic inclusions, since they're not grown around other crystals. These are more difficult to see, which is why you'll find lab diamonds with higher clarity grades in general.
But, if you wanted to, sometimes you can get a cheaper, lower clarity graded diamond that has its inclusions on the edge. This is particularly useful in halo settings. Halo settings are also a great way of making a center stone carat weight look larger, without actually being so.
Red Flags When Buying Lab Grown Diamonds
While there are many benefits to purchasing lab grown diamonds or choosing a one for an engagement ring, there are a couple things to watch out for.
- No Upgrades: The likelihood of what you'll pay for a lab created engagement ring today will most likely cost less in a year's time. This can be quite frustrating. Both lab grown and mined diamonds will be better served passed down through generations rather than reselling. The other downside of the resale factor is that you can't upgrade either. For natural diamonds, you'll find that most retailers have an upgrade policy. The value of lab diamonds depreciate very fast, so there wouldn't be any kind of trade-up value.
- Lab Created Not CZ: The other thing you want to think about is how lab created diamonds are often confused with diamond simulants, like zircon and cubic zirconia (CZ). While jewelry stores are advised by the FTC to disclose lab created diamonds, it can be difficult to know for sure if you're getting what you think you are. This is especially true when buying in foreign markets or private diamond dealers. This is why you should always make sure to get a grading report with your lab diamonds.