Wondering if you should buy lab diamonds?
You're in the right place.
In this Learning Guide, I'll lay out 6 reasons why a lab diamond engagement ring is a good idea, plus answers to these questions:
- Are lab diamonds the same as diamond simulants?
- Are all lab created diamonds created equal?
- How much cheaper are lab grown diamonds?
What Are Lab Diamonds?
A lab diamond is a real diamond in almost every way. They have the same chemical, physical, and optical properties as an earth mined diamond.
There’s some details about lab grown diamonds that differ from natural diamonds. Types of inclusions, effects from different processes, and different grading reports are some of the ways they differ.
When it comes to sparkle and brilliance, a man made diamond will have just as much fire as an earth made diamond. It’ll also have the same overall durability and resistance to dust.
Without further ado, here's 6 reasons to buy lab grown diamonds.
1. Lab Diamonds Are 100% Conflict-Free
One of the biggest concerns the millennial and Gen Z engagement ring buyer’s have is the diamond mining industry.
Ever since the movie Blood Diamond, ring buyers have been alerted to the idea of conflict diamonds.
Conflict diamonds represent about 1-2% of the world’s diamonds. That’s much less common than a lot of people these days think. A lot of people assume all natural diamonds are secretly conflict diamonds, despite the diamond industry’s implementation of the Kimberley Process.
In a world where these generations aren’t trusting corporations, investigating clothing brands, beauty gurus and the like—the diamond industry has also been hit with it. The concern and scrutiny is paving the way to lab diamonds.
Even though conflict diamonds are few and far between, some still don’t trust it. Others find lab grown diamonds have more benefits than mined diamonds that sway their decision.
Some people have better peace of mind buying lab grown diamonds. Since there aren't any harsh and dangerous mining conditions involved to obtain lab diamonds, you know their workers aren't in danger.
Lab diamonds don’t have the same value as natural diamonds do, so they can’t be used for civil wars and abuse of people. The big money is in mined diamonds.
Read also: Is James Allen conflict-free?
2. Lab Diamonds Are Real Diamonds
I mentioned lab diamonds have the same attributes as natural diamonds, but I want to dive in a little further.
When buying any gemstone for an engagement ring or other fine jewelry, you want to know it’s going to hold up while being worn.
One of the things we look out to decide if a gemstone is good enough for an engagement ring is it’s hardness. The hardness of minerals falls on the Mineral Scale of Hardness. Mohs scale for short.
The Moh scale consists of 1-10 levels. A lab created diamond and a natural diamond both rate a 10 on the hardness scale. There’s no mineral with the same or better hardness than a diamond.
The closest stones to the hardness level of diamonds are moissanite (9.5) and sapphire/ruby (9). Those stones would be great for an alternative diamond engagement ring.
But here’s where people get confused.
Most ring buyers don’t know a whole lot about diamonds before they start looking for an engagement ring.
That’s okay, most people behind the counter of a Zales or Kay Jewelers don’t know either. I didn’t even know what rose gold was when I was hired.
A gemstone or mineral’s hardness doesn’t mean its durability. Hardness is the mineral’s resistance to scratching.
We’re not talking about hard scratches either, like accidentally smacking your stone on a door frame or something.
You might not realize how often we bump our hands on things throughout the day. Some of us (myself included) more than others.
Like natural diamonds, lab diamonds are the best to withstand everyday dust. However, they can still break or chip because of their perfect cleavage. This is true with many gemstones.
Lab diamonds are graded the same way as natural diamonds: by way of the 4Cs. The 4Cs are Diamond Cut, Diamond Color, Diamond Clarity and Diamond Carat Weight.
This system was created by the Gemological Institute of America. All lab diamonds are assessed by these factors.
3. Lab Diamonds Are Better for the Environment
Notice how I said that lab grown diamonds are better for the environment.
Another misconception about lab diamonds is that all of them are sustainable. That’s not true.
It takes a lot of machinery and sometimes explosives to gain access to a diamond mine. Drilling into the earth to hack away at rock uses a lot of energy and fuel.
Lab diamonds don’t require all that, but they still use some energy. The HPHT process uses extreme temperatures and high heat to recreate the conditions it takes to grow diamonds in the earth.
It’s not as much, but it’s still using fossil fuels. CVD diamonds are smaller and use less energy than creating HPHT methods.
Read also: HPHT vs CVD Diamonds- Which is Better?
The bottom line is, you shouldn’t take everything you hear about sustainable lab diamonds as truth.
Don’t get me wrong, they can be sustainable.
Any company claiming their diamonds are 100% sustainable should be able to tell you exactly how their lab diamonds are made to be sustainable. Otherwise, it could be a good reason to avoid lab diamonds from them.
4. You Can Go Bigger With a Lab Diamond
New ring buyers might not know all of the 4Cs of diamond quality, but you can be positive they’ve at least heard about carat weight.
Carat weight is often thought of as the size of a diamond rather than the actual weight. You might be used to seeing a round diamond size chart like this showing you the different sizes.
The problem is, the size of your lab diamond will change based on the shape you’re choosing.
Round diamonds are the most popular diamond shape because they can be cut to ideal proportions for the best light performance. To do this, they have to be cut deeper. That causes round diamonds to carry more of their weight in the bottom of the diamond.
A shallow shape like an emerald cut lab diamond carries more of the weight in its crown (top). The weight is spread through its surface area, not its depth like the round diamond.
Ere go, an emerald cut lab diamond will appear larger than a round cut lab diamond. The same goes for ovals, marquise, and radiant cut lab diamonds.
The way lab diamonds have the edge over natural diamonds is because they offer higher carat weight sizes in diamond inventories.
There’s a lot of things that a piece of natural diamond rough has to have and be in order to become a gem-quality diamond.
That’s not the case with synthetic diamonds. Mined diamonds take billions of years to maybe form into a gem-quality diamond engagement ring.
A 1 carat lab diamond can be grown in 7 to 10 business days. A 3-carat lab diamond can take around a month and a 5-carat diamond, even longer.
If a lab diamond company wants to grow a larger diamond, they just have to grow it longer. That’s a lot easier than hoping you find a good rough to cut 3 carat diamond from.
So, because it’s easier to create lab diamonds in bigger carat weights, more companies have them available. A lab grown 3 carat diamond costs much less than a 3 carat natural diamond.
If you go for a mined diamond, you might only be able to get a 1 carat diamond ring to be within your budget. But if you go for a lab diamond engagement ring, you can actually spend less on a bigger diamond if you want.
Read also: The Pricing of Lab Created Diamonds
5. Lab Diamonds Diamonds Have Better Clarity
A diamond’s clarity is how free of inclusions or blemishes the stone is to the naked eye. A gem is called eye-clean when no flaws can be seen to the untrained eye. It might have small inclusions under magnification.
Diamond “flaws” are broken down into inclusions and blemishes. However, the term inclusions is used more as a blanket. Blemishes are external inclusions.
External inclusions can happen while a diamond is growing, or while it's being faceted by a jeweler. Certain types of external inclusions can impact the durability of your stone if its struck where the flaw is.
Most diamonds have internal inclusions. These affect the visibility and beauty of your diamond, but not its durability.
Internal inclusions happen when other minerals and impurities mix with a diamond while its growing.
Lab diamonds don’t tend to have as many inclusions as natural diamonds do. That’s because diamonds growing in the ground come into contact with a bunch of different minerals beneath the earth.
In a lab environment, a laboratory grown diamond is isolated. The only minerals that come into contact with a growing diamond is the elements used to create them.
They still get inclusions though. The types of inclusions in lab grown diamonds are usually less noticeable than ones in natural diamonds. These are either metallic or graphite inclusions.
I’ve seen some black inclusions on lab grown diamonds, but most of them that are included are needle point inclusions, like this:
You’ll notice that there aren’t many I clarity lab diamonds in the jewelry market. That’s because it’s easier to grow diamonds with better clarity than it is for them to happen naturally.
6. Lab Diamond Rings Are Less Expensive Than Natural Diamonds
Okay, let’s be honest.
The biggest reason why some people choose to buy lab diamonds over natural diamonds is because they’re a lot less expensive.
Some places will tell you a lab diamond is only 20% cheaper than a mined diamond of the same or similar grades. I’ve seen them be closer to 40-60% less expensive.
When you buy a lab diamond, you have the option of keeping more money in your pocket. Or, you have the option of buying better grades or a bigger stone than you thought you could afford with a natural diamond.
With lab diamonds, the choice and the power — is all yours.
To put it simply, there’s a lot of valid reasons why you should buy lab diamonds. Let’s have a recap, shall we?
- Lab diamonds are conflict-free diamonds
- Lab diamonds have the same properties as earth made diamonds
- Lab diamonds are better for the environment than natural diamonds
- Buying a lab diamond gets you a bigger diamond for your buck
- There are more eye-clean lab diamonds available
- Lab diamond rings are 20-70% cheaper than a mined diamond of the same or similar grades.
I don’t know about you, but those are all great reasons to buy lab diamonds. That’s not to say that natural diamonds don’t have their own magic and appeal too.
Whichever your preference, you should always buy the engagement ring that fits your budget and situation.