Lower cost, sustainable, more environmentally friendly, consistent colour, and less inclusions. With all of this going for them, why would anyone not choose lab grown diamonds? The truth is there are a lot of myths and misunderstandings about lab grown diamonds. Below we will lay out exactly what lab grown diamonds are, their pros and cons, comparisons with natural diamonds and how they are made.
What are man-made diamonds?
What are lab-grown diamonds?
Man made diamonds vs natural diamonds
How are lab diamonds made?
Are lab grown diamonds the same as mined diamonds?
Why choose a lab-grown diamond?
Ethically produced diamonds
Price difference – lab grown diamonds vs natural diamonds
What are the downsides of lab-grown diamonds?
Lab grown diamonds at bespoke diamonds
There seems to be a lot of names in use for these such as man-made diamonds, synthetic diamonds or lab-grown diamonds. These are all referring to the same type of stone. It is also important to note that lab grown diamonds can be classed as real diamonds. This is due to the fact that the only difference between these and natural diamonds is their origin. These are completely different to other diamond simulants such as moissanites and cubic zirconia which are easier to tell apart from real diamonds (lab grown or natural).
Natural diamonds are formed after millions of years of heat and high pressure below the surface of the earth and these conditions determine the size and colour of the stone. Lab grown Diamonds are diamonds made using modern technology to recreate these conditions using processes (called High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) and Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD)).
Navigating the world of diamonds can seem daunting enough without the introduction of these ‘man-made diamonds’ to the mix. However, we designed this blog to make it all a little clearer, and help you make the most informed decision about the stone that will be on your ring. (Man made diamonds and lab diamonds, are available as an option for all our engagement rings)
In recent years the jewellery industry has been embracing this development as one of its most significant technological advances in modern times. While scientists have been ‘growing’ diamonds in labs for several decades, these stones were primarily used for industrial purposes. Labs can now create diamonds that are large enough and of high enough quality to be used in jewellery.
Lab-grown diamond rings are hugely popular among couples who are environmentally and socially conscious as well as being an attractive option for those who want bling on a budget. They are generally about 30 per cent cheaper than mined diamonds.
Lab diamonds are made using a specially designed machine that creates high pressure and temperature. A small diamond seed – a tiny fragment of an existing diamond – is placed into the machine and exposed to temperatures of about 1,500 degrees Celsius. Pressure of approximately 1.5 million pounds per square inch is applied, just like natural diamonds experience deep in the ground.
Despite the lower price point, lab-grown diamonds are in no way inferior to mined diamonds. Mined diamonds are also referred to as natural diamonds where lab grown diamonds can also be referred to as man-made or synthetic.
Synthetic diamonds are more cost effective because the producers can cut out lengthy supply chains. Also, there are no mining costs, so there is no need to compromise on style and sparkle if you opt for this sustainable alternative.
Diamonds created in a lab are virtually identical to mined diamonds in both appearance and structure. They have almost identical internal structure and hardness/durability as natural diamonds. The way the stones reflect light is also exactly the same.
Also known as ethical diamonds, lab-grown diamonds are certified by the same system and standards as mined diamonds. As a result, they are individually graded according to the four Cs – carat, cut, clarity and colour, just like natural diamonds.
The only difference between mined diamonds and lab-grown diamonds is their origins. One comes from the ground, while the other is ‘grown’ in a lab by recreating the processes of extreme pressure and heat in a controlled environment.
While there are big energy requirements for producing lab-grown diamonds, our supplier is carbon neutral and uses sustainable energy for their process – this is key to ensuring they can be accurately described as sustainably sourced diamonds. This is not possible with natural/mined diamonds as they are often sourced from countries without such a keen interest in environmental matters.
There have been many attempts to copy, recreate, and imitate diamonds in the past. This has led to many people being sceptical about lab grown diamonds as “just another imitation”. This is simply not the case. Products like Cubic Zirconia and Moissanites just look similar to diamonds to the naked eye but are completely different materials. Lab Grown Diamonds are actual diamonds, just made in a different way.
While some believe there is a certain ‘romance’ in taking mined diamond from the ground and creating a beautiful ring, there are still plenty of reasons for choosing lab grown too – without compromising on the quality, appearance, or beauty of your ring.
Diamond mining companies have made significant inroads in becoming more environmentally and socially conscious in the last two decades. However, growing a diamond in a lab still has a lot less impact on the planet.
A massive 250 tons of earth must be extracted to mine a single, one-carat rough diamond. Deforestation can also occur, destroying ecosystems in the area surrounding a mine. Mining companies in some countries have to adhere to strict environmental standards, but other countries do not have any regulations in place.
Another issue of great concern for customers purchasing diamond jewellery is blood diamonds, or conflict diamonds. These are diamonds that have been mined in war zones to fund armies and rebel militias fighting civil wars.
Thanks to the formation of the Kimberley Process in 2003, the majority of conflict diamonds have been eliminated from the jewellery market. The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) imposes extensive requirements on its member countries to enable them to certify shipments of rough diamonds as ‘conflict-free’ and prevent conflict diamonds from entering the legitimate trade.
However, the system has been criticised for failing to address the often-poor working conditions of mine workers. Other issues like child labour and health and safety still exist. Lab-grown diamonds mean that the buyer can be 100 per cent certain that no staff were forced to work in inhumane conditions and confident that the cost was not used to fund violence in any way.
Natural diamonds not only cost more than lab diamonds but their price fluctuates hugely. A 1 carat natural diamond now (July 2022) can cost 25-35% more than it did just 2 years ago, with bigger carat sizes having even bigger increases. Supply chain problems and global issues, such as the Covid 19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and sanctions have had profound impact on diamond prices. Russia is responsible for approximately 30% of global mined diamonds so the sanctions have reduced that supply considerable – making prices go up substantially.
These factors do not affect the production of lab grown diamonds which is done in a controlled manner with stable supply chains in countries which are considered more stable. Suppliers of lab grown diamonds have more fixed pricing which ensures jewellers can know what they will pay for diamonds on a month to month basis. This helps the customer too as they can be sure the price they see won’t change dramatically like with mined diamonds.
While the ethical and money-saving advantages of lab-grown diamonds are substantial, it’s fair to say that they don’t appeal to everyone. Some couples love the history behind mined diamonds and the fact that every stone is one of a kind. Natural diamonds are forged by the power of nature over millions of years. When compared to synthetic diamonds that can be mass-produced in the sterile environment of a lab in just a few weeks, it does seem like the more romantic option.
There are also still many misconceptions about lab-grown diamonds, as they are relatively new to the jewellery market. Most people probably haven’t heard much about them. Many couples may be concerned that friends and family will think they have bought an artificial, cheap diamond.
Whatever your views on synthetic diamonds, they are definitely here to stay. As a result, they are likely to become more ubiquitous in the future. A growing number of retailers are offering their customers this cost-effective and sustainable option.
We here at Bespoke Diamonds offer both natural and lab grown diamonds as well as Moissanites and other gemstones. Almost all the rings on our website are available with natural or lab grown diamonds. We can show you all of the stone types and you can see for yourself the likenesses and choose the exact diamond you want for your ring.
We have a large range of loose lab grown diamonds in our Dublin showroom available to view by appointment.
Yes, lab grown diamonds are identical in characteristics to natural diamonds. They both measure 10 on the Mohs Hardness Scale.
Lab grown diamonds are certified by the same certification bodies as mined diamonds, using the same criteria of cut, carat, colour, and clarity. Diamonds which are above 0.30 carats are generally certified.
Yes, lab grown diamonds are generally 30-50% cheaper depending on the carat weight. Bigger diamonds tend to have a bigger price difference as mined diamonds in bigger sizes are rarer. Many people choose lab diamonds to enable them to get a larger diamond for the same price or less than a mined diamond, without compromising on quality.
Mined diamonds are subject to large price fluctuations due to their production being more time consuming and limited to certain areas. Global issues such as Covid 19 pandemic and the current geo-political situation also have a major impact on mined diamond prices which have seen huge increases in recent times, especially with sanctions on Russia which is responsible for 30% of the world’s mined diamond production.
Lab diamonds, on the other hand, are produced in a controlled way, in stable countries so supply is more secure and less likely to supply chain issues. For this reason, lab grown diamonds are not only cheaper but also more stable.
Lab grown diamonds are generally accepted to be more ethical as they are never from conflict areas or places which fund terrorism or other unethical practices. They can be considered sustainable too, provided the lab diamond producer uses sustainable energy. Producing the heat and pressure necessary for lab grown diamonds takes a lot of energy so this is an important point. Check with your jeweller whether their diamond supplier is carbon neutral or carbon positive meaning they don’t use more energy than they produce.
Lab grown diamonds can be more sustainable, based on how they are produced. Firstly, they do not require mining which means there is no need for deforestation, earth moving or any mining equipment to produce them. However, the amount of energy required is significant so only some lab diamonds can be truly considered sustainable – those who use renewable resources for their energy. Some producers are carbon neutral or even carbon positive in their production, meaning they produce the same amount or more energy as they use.
No, definitely not. Lab grown diamonds are indistinguishable from mined diamonds unless tested using professional equipment. There are also many benefits to choosing lab grown instead of natural diamonds such as for ethical and sustainability reasons.
Yes, and it is advisable to do so. When you buy a lab grown diamond (loose or in jewellery), you should get a valuation from the jeweller. This can then be submitted as the value to be insured.
The four Cs of diamonds refer to the key characteristics of a diamond used in determining its value. These are:
Cut: The cut of a diamond relates to how well the diamond is cut to reflect light. Each certified diamond is graded excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor. We only recommend diamonds with an ‘excellent’ or a ‘very good’ cut.
Carat: The carat of a diamond relates to the weight of the diamond. Roughly, this relates to the size of a diamond. Generally, the larger the carat the more expensive.
Colour: The colour of a diamond relates to its lack of colour. The less colour a diamond has, the more rare it is and the more expensive it is.
Clarity: All diamonds have very small inclusions. These inclusions relate to the diamond’s clarity. It is important to have a diamond which is ‘eye clean’ which means that there are no visible inclusions to the naked eye.
At Bespoke Diamonds, we also believe there are 3 more Cs that you should keep in mind.
Certification: The certificate confirms the features of a diamond. Generally diamonds 0.30 carats and above are certified.
Cost: We would encourage all customers to shop around. We are very confident that our prices are exceptionally competitive. By shopping around you will better understand the style you like. It is also a way to see what budget will let you to purchase.
Confidence: A diamond ring is a big purchase and your jeweller should ensure it is the right one for you. Their aim should be to help you get the best diamond for your budget. Meeting your jeweller in person and seeing the diamond and certificate before purchase can be a great way to gain confidence in your purchase.
Diamonds are mined in many countries in Africa as well as Canada and Russia. Lab grown diamonds come from the United State, China and India. It is important to consider the source of your diamond including how it was mined, who is the supplier and what is the environmental impact of your diamond. 99% of Russian-mined diamonds are sold by a state owned company while many countries mine and produce diamonds with little consideration for the environmental impact. We source our lab grown diamonds from a carbon net-zero producer which means the diamond is produced sustainably.
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