Wondering which is better, lab diamonds or white topaz?
You're in the right place. In this Learning Guide, we're pitting lab-grown diamonds vs white topazes. I'll answer the following questions about these two colorless gems like:
- Are lab grown diamonds real diamonds?
- Can I wear white topaz everyday?
- Is a white topaz lab created?
Main Differences Between a Lab-Grown Diamond vs a White Topaz
- A lab grown diamond is a real diamond, whereas a white topaz is another type of colorless gemstone.
- Lab grown diamonds are always synthetic, whereas white topaz stones can be natural.
- Lab grown diamonds have the highest hardness level, same as a natural diamond, whereas white topazes have lower hardness.
- A lab-grown diamond sparkles like a natural diamond, whereas a white topaz doesn't have the same brilliance.
- Lab-grown diamonds are quite expensive, whereas white topazes are more affordable.
They may both look the same from afar, but they are very different gemstones. hailing from different areas and in different ways. Let's take a look at the formation of lab-grown diamonds vs white topazes.
Lab Grown Diamond
A major misconception about lab grown diamonds is that they're a diamond substitute. A lab created diamond doesn't form the same way as a natural diamond, but it's still a real diamond. It is the only "diamond alternative" that is still a diamond.
There are two main processes used to create lab diamonds. The high pressure-high temperature (HPHT) method involves taking a piece of a natural diamond and putting it in an isolated chamber. The same heat and pressure it takes for mined diamonds to form is done to the diamond seed in the chamber by scientists.
The chemical vapor deposition (CVD) method involves taking the diamond seed and filling the chamber with carbon rich gases. The gases create a plasma around the seed and it causes the diamond crystal to form.
Read also: HPHT Diamonds vs CVD Diamonds
Neither method is better than the other, though there are certain retailers that will encourage you to go one way or the other. Not all diamond certificates or retailers will tell you which process was used in the creation of your lab diamond engagement ring.
A natural white topaz gem is formed within the earth. White topaz is pure topaz, but topaz stones can occur in a rainbow of different colors. The most popular ones are blue topaz and yellow topaz, also called Imperial topaz.
A topaz stone is an abundant mineral found around the world in places like Zimbabwe, Namibia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and the United States, but most topaz stones come from Brazil.
In modern day jewelry, it's common to see white topaz as a diamond substitute in gemstone rings. It is often compared to other white/colorless gemstones resembling diamonds like white zircon, white sapphires, moissanite, lab grown diamonds, and cubic zirconia.
Both white topaz and lab grown diamond engagement rings can look the same from afar. But when you compare their optical properties, you'll quickly learn there more to these two stones than meets the eye. Let's take a deeper look.
Lab Grown Diamond
Lab grown diamonds have the same optical properties as natural diamonds. The light performance for a diamond's signature sparkle is described as a subtle, yet fiery and colorful sparkle of rainbow and white light.
The dispersion of light reflected in both diamond and lab grown diamonds are indistinguishable from one another with the naked eye. However, there are certain diamond cutting styles that cause the light to reflect differently.
Synthetics and Imitations
A lab grown diamond is the synthetic version of a natural mined diamond. Many people get confused between the word "synthetic" and the word "fake". Oftentimes they're interchangeable.
Read also: Simulated Diamonds vs Lab Created Diamonds
A synthetic diamond differs differs from a fake diamond because it still has all the same physical, chemical, and optical properties as an earth grown diamond. In fact, only the most skilled gemologists can tell the difference.
Furthermore, the same natural diamond imitations and diamond substitutes apply to synthetic diamonds as well. Some imitations may be natural colorless gemstones or man made gemstones.
Natural earth grown moissanite is almost non-existent, but lab grown moissanite stones are the most popular diamond simulants. It is more expensive of typical diamond alternatives as opposed to cubic zirconia. Cubic zirconia is a much cheaper, and more often called a fake diamond. Moissanite gemstones aren't considered fake diamonds since they're often preferred and suitable for everyday wear.
The light performance of a white topaz stone isn't quite the same as as a diamond's luster. White topaz may have a glassy appearance, but aren't the same sparkly stones as real diamonds.
Unlike a real diamond, most white topaz gems are free of internal imperfections to the naked eye. Clarity doesn't increase the cost of a white topaz wedding ring like a diamond wedding ring would.
It's very important to see pictures or video footage before you buy a white topaz or other gemstone online. Not every stone is the same. If not cut well, a white topaz can show windowing, which makes it look like glass rather than a sparkle.
Synthetics and Imitations
White topaz may be an abundant natural gemstone, but it can also be synthetic too. In most fine jewelry stores, the white topaz in an engagement ring is natural. You'll be more likely to receive lab grown stones masquerading as natural white topaz on marketplace sites. Or, they could be easier fake diamonds to obtain, like cubic zirconia on marketplace sites.
The price difference between a lab grown diamonds vs white topaz jewelry is distinctive. Lab grown diamonds are usually around 40% less expensive than mined diamonds of the same quality. If the mined diamond is $8,000, your lab diamond would still be around $5,800. For many, that's still a lot of money.
A white topaz gemstone is a very affordable semi precious gemstone. On its own, you can get them around $5 per carat. Large white topaz stones are harder to come by and increase to around $26 per carat as they reach beyond 3 carats.
Though a natural white topaz is monumentally cheaper than a lab grown diamond, it's a lot harder to find a well-cut white topaz. Most retailers in the jewelry industry use white topaz stones as diamond alternatives in the setting, rather than the center stone of engagement rings. So they may be cheaper, but high quality ones in center stone size will be harder to find.
Now when it comes to worth and value, lab grown diamonds win. As you can probably guess, a white topaz engagement ring isn't worth much considering the overall cost of a natural topaz stone. A lab grown white topaz is worth is less than that of a earth grown white topaz. You may find it comparable to the cost of cubic zirconia.
You may hear from some people that lab grown diamonds are worthless, unlike natural earth diamonds. But the truth of the matter is that even natural diamonds lose over a 1/3 of their value once purchased. That's why when you resell engagement rings and wedding rings to a pawn shop, you get waaay less than what you paid for in retail.
A lab grown diamond isn't often eligible for trade up at most retailers. The price of synthetic diamonds are always fluctuating. Retailers risk losing money by taking back lab grown wedding rings.
Lab grown diamonds have the same physical resilience as earth grown diamonds. Both diamond and lab grown diamonds have a hardness level of 10 on the Mohs scale. Basically, only a diamond can scratch a diamond. That doesn't mean they're impervious to damage or breakage. The daily dust in the air won't bother it over the years, but you can chip it by striking it hard enough, due to the perfect cleavage planes in diamonds.
So, how does white topaz compare when it comes to using it for your everyday engagement ring?
Like lab and earth grown diamonds, white topaz also can chip or break the same way. A white topaz stone hits an 8 on the hardness scale. Though it's only two numbers below where lab and natural diamonds lie, it doesn't work that way. When it comes to white topaz vs diamond, a diamond is around 6 times more resistant to scratching than a white topaz.
Both topaz and diamond gemstones are worth adding to your jewelry collection at the end of the day. White topaz stones may not be highly valued in the diamond industry, but the colored topaz gemstones are prized-blue topaz in particular. Swiss blue, sky blue, and london blue topaz are among the most popular.
White topaz is more often found as melee stones in a ring setting as diamond alternatives. That's not to say you can't find them as center stones, but it'll be harder to find loose white topaz at a fine jewelry store. You'll be more likely to find them on Etsy, but make sure to read the descriptions thoroughly. A white topaz wedding ring could also make a great stackable band too.
Another reason why white topaz is hard to buy as a center stone is because it's not the most popular chosen diamond alternative. Moissanite stones tend to take that title, with white sapphire being a close second. After that, cubic zirconia probably takes third, due to how common it is to find.
Read also: Moissanite vs Morganite
A white topaz stone is durable enough for everyday wear due to its scratch resistance, but has the same vulnerabilities to chipping as a lab or earth grown diamond. However, its hardness and resistance to chipping isn't as good as other gemstones that are colorless, like moissanite and white sapphires.
Lab grown diamonds are the top chosen stone next to natural diamonds. Of course, many people skip diamonds and go straight to large moissanite stones. The sparkle of a round cut moissanite stone is much higher than both diamond and white topaz.
Lab diamonds have all the same properties as mined diamonds, but are much less expensive. Still, the price of a one carat lab diamond is still much higher than that of a natural white topaz. They also will stand up better and longer over the years than a white topaz ring.
Either way, which ever colorless stone you choose, I hope this article has made your decision easier to make!