There's no denying that diamonds are a girl's best friend. But what about when those diamonds are created in a lab? Are they still worthy of being called "best friends?"


Here's a breakdown of the differences between natural and lab-grown diamonds, so you can decide for yourself which type is worth your investment.



HOW THEY ARE MADE:



There are two ways that diamonds are made - in nature and in laboratories. Both have their own unique set of benefits and drawbacks. Here's a quick rundown of how each type of diamond is made:


Natural diamonds are created deep within the Earth's mantle, under extreme heat and pressure. They are then brought to the surface by volcanoes and other geological activity. This process can take millions of years.


In contrast, diamond technicians create engineered diamonds in a laboratory environment by replicating the natural conditions existing deep within the Earth's mantle. Diamond technicians begin by taking a skinny diamond slice that already has the diamond's crystalline structure intact. This diamond slice (made of pure carbon) is the seed for engineered diamonds; it is taken from either a natural or existing lab-created diamond. The lab technician then places this diamond seed in a chamber filled with carbon gas. The chamber heats up to extremely high temperatures and pressures, which causes the carbon atoms to bond together and grow the diamond. It's similar to 3-D printing a diamond. The lab-created diamond will be ready to be cut and polished once it has 'grown' in this chamber, just like a natural diamond." The result is a diamond with the same physical, chemical, and optical properties as a natural diamond.

 

The first lab-grown diamonds were created in the 1950s. Still, it took about sixty years to produce gem-quality engineered diamonds—a diamond of sufficient color and clarity to wear on your finger.


DURABILITY



There's no denying that diamonds are durable. They're the hardest natural material on Earth, after all. But how do they compare to their lab-grown counterparts?


It turns out that lab-grown diamonds are actually as durable as natural diamonds because they share the same chemical and physical properties as their natural counterparts.


In terms of hardness, both natural and lab-grown diamonds are rated a 10 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness. This hardness means that they're equally resistant to scratching and chipping.


PRICE



The price of a diamond is determined by many factors, including its size, quality, and color. But what about the difference between natural and lab-grown diamonds?


Natural diamonds' scarcity contributes to their high price. Because the natural circumstances under which each gemstone is created are unique, the characteristics the gemstone is graded on will also be unique. Other factors influencing their price include the labor and energy required to mine and polish the stones and the diamond market's strategic and somewhat dubious origins, control, and advertising.


Because lab diamonds are not subject to the same supply chains as natural diamonds, they will be less expensive—sometimes up to 50% less than a natural stone of similar grade. Technological advancements also allow for greater efficiency in crafting lab-created diamonds.


Lab-grown diamond technology is also still evolving, which could affect their value. If they become easier to produce and less expensive, their price will most likely fall, lowering their value. Furthermore, suppose future generations continue to devalue the diamond as a symbol of love and marriage. In that case, the value of both lab and natural diamonds may fall as there is less demand for them.


CLARITY



When it comes to natural diamonds, clarity is everything. A diamond's clarity is judged on a scale from F (flawless) to I3 (included), with the vast majority of diamonds falling somewhere in the middle. But what does that actually mean?


Flawless diamonds are, well, flawless. They have no blemishes or inclusions whatsoever and are incredibly rare (and expensive). Most diamonds will have at least some tiny imperfections, which is where the clarity scale comes in.


Inclusions are essentially any internal or external blemish on the diamond and can be things like tiny cracks, other minerals trapped inside the diamond, or small clouds. The more included a diamond is, the lower its clarity grade will be.


Blemishes are external blemishes and can be things like scratches or nicks on the surface of the diamond. Again, the more blemishes a diamond has, the lower its clarity grade will be.
The vast majority of diamonds fall somewhere in the middle of the clarity scale, with most being what's known as "eye clean." This clarity grade means that when you look at the diamond with the naked eye, you can't see any blemishes or inclusions. Only when you look at the diamond under a microscope can you start to see these imperfections.


Lab-grown diamonds are optically, physically, and chemically identical to natural diamonds. This identical structure means they contain all "natural' aspects of a diamond, including flaws.
The only way to judge the clarity of a lab-grown diamond is by using the same clarity scale as natural diamonds. So, just like with a natural diamond, the fewer blemishes and inclusions a lab-grown diamond has, the higher its clarity grade is


COLOR



In terms of color, a high-quality lab-grown diamond's grading is on the same scale as a natural diamond. However, there is no discernible difference between lab-grown and natural diamonds. Most couples seek gems of both varieties that are near colorless and graded between G and J. True colorless diamonds, graded D through F, are extremely rare and thus extremely expensive.


SHOPPING CONSIDERATIONS



The jury is still out on whether lab-grown diamonds are more eco-friendly than natural diamonds. Some experts say that the carbon footprint of producing a lab-grown diamond is lower than mining a natural diamond. Others argue that the amount of energy required to create a lab-grown diamond is higher than mining a natural diamond.


What we do know is that lab-grown diamonds are more ethical than natural diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds are not associated with the human rights abuses that often occur in diamond mines. They also don't contribute to environmental damage.


FAQ



Q: IS IT ACCURATE TO CALL A LAB-GROWN DIAMOND A "SYNTHETIC" DIAMOND?


A: The term "synthetic" diamond is considered outdated and inaccurate by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and many in the diamond industry. A "synthetic" diamond suggests that a lab-grown diamond is inferior to a natural diamond when they are identical in every physical way.


Q: WHAT ARE LAB-GROWN DIAMONDS CALLED?


A: There are a few different terms to describe lab-grown diamonds, including "cultured," "cultivated," and "man-made."


Q: WILL A LAB-GROWN DIAMOND TEST REAL?


A: Yes, a lab-grown diamond will test as a real diamond on a diamond tester because they are real diamonds grown in a lab.


Q: HOW MUCH DO LAB-GROWN DIAMONDS COST?


A: Because lab diamonds are not as scarce as natural diamonds, they will be less expensive—sometimes up to 50% less.


Q: CAN THE AVERAGE PERSON SPOT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A LAB-GROWN AND NATURAL DIAMOND?


A: Trained gemologists with specialized equipment can tell the difference between a lab-grown and natural diamond, but the average person cannot.



Q: HOW TO IDENTIFY LAB-GROWN DIAMONDS?


A: The only way to ensure that a diamond is lab-grown is with a certified statement from the supplier or manufacturer.


Q: DO MANUFACTURED DIAMONDS COME WITH A CERTIFICATE?


A: Yes, all lab-grown diamonds should be certified by a third party like the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). This certification ensures that a gemologist has properly graded the stone.



Q: HOW CAN I BE SURE I'M GETTING A GOOD DEAL ON A ENGINEERED DIAMOND?


A: Like with anything else, do your research before making any big purchase. Shop around, compare prices, and ensure you work with a reputable jeweler.



Q: HOW TO CLEAN LAB-GROWN DIAMONDS?


A: You can clean manufactured diamonds using the same methods you would use to clean a natural diamond. Soap and water, commercial diamond cleaners, and ultrasonic cleaners are safe.



Q: HOW LONG DO LAB-GROWN DIAMONDS LAST?


A: Manufactured diamonds are physically and chemically identical to natural diamonds, so that they will last just as long. With proper care, a lab-grown diamond can last a lifetime.


Q: ARE LAB-GROWN DIAMONDS ECO-FRIENDLY?


A: While producing man-made diamonds creates a carbon footprint, the overall impact is much lower than natural diamonds. In addition, lab-grown diamonds do not require the mining and transport of large amounts of Earth, which can harm the environment.



Q: WHAT'S WRONG WITH LAB-GROWN DIAMONDS?


A: There is nothing wrong with man-made diamonds! They are real diamonds, just like the ones found in nature. The only difference is in their creation process.



Q: ARE LAB-GROWN DIAMONDS A GOOD INVESTMENT?


A: While lab-grown diamonds are less expensive than natural diamonds, they are still a significant investment. However, their value is not as likely to increase over time because they are not as scarce.



Q: WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF LAB-GROWN DIAMONDS?


A: Lab-grown diamonds offer several benefits over natural diamonds, including a lower cost, less environmental impact, and no support for conflict diamond mining.



Q: WILL LAB DIAMONDS GET CHEAPER?


A: There's no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the price of lab diamonds varies depending on a number of factors. However, in general, lab diamonds tend to be more affordable than natural diamonds. So if you're looking for a budget-friendly diamond option, lab diamonds may be a good choice for you.


As with any technological advancement, as more competitors enter the market and we learn more about creating these stunning stones, it's only natural for them to become more affordable. 


CONCLUSION


So, which type of diamond is right for you? Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. Some people prefer the uniqueness and history of natural diamonds, while others prefer the affordability and ethical purity of lab-created diamonds.