Lab Grown vs Natural Diamonds: Unearthing the Differences

You're searching for the perfect diamond, and you find yourself facing a tough decision – should you select a lab-grown or natural diamond?

It is no small task, especially since both options have their own unique features and benefits. But we're here to simplify the process for you! We've compiled all the helpful details you need to make a well-informed choice. So, let's dive in and unravel the differences between lab-grown and natural diamonds.

Lab Grown Diamonds vs. Natural Diamonds

How Natural Diamonds are Formed

Natural diamonds take shape deep beneath the Earth's surface. The gems start as carbon atoms around 100 miles below the Earth’s mantle, where temperatures reach thousands of degrees Fahrenheit. Combined with the intense heat, over 725,000 pounds of pressure per square inch bonds the carbon atoms into that iconic crystal lattice structure. The whole process can take anywhere from 1 billion to 3.3 billion years.

How Lab-Grown Diamonds Are Created

Sometimes referred to as "synthetic" or "man-made" diamonds, these gems are created through a cutting-edge process within the controlled environment of a laboratory. While they may not have been forged beneath the Earth's surface over billions of years, lab-grown diamonds are, without a doubt, genuine diamonds.

Two primary techniques, High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT) and Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD), are used to create these gems. HPHT subjects carbon to intense pressure and heat, while CVD precisely deposits carbon atoms onto a diamond seed.

Diamond Characteristics

1. Physical and chemical properties

At the core of a diamond's identity is its crystal structure. Like natural diamonds, lab-grown ones consist of carbon atoms arranged in a tetrahedral lattice structure, forming a perfect cubic crystal. This formation is what gives diamonds their hardness and durability, earning them their reputation as the hardest substance on Earth.

Both natural and lab-grown diamonds are immune to scratches and abrasions, making them highly durable for everyday wear in jewelry.

2. Clarity and brilliance

One of the most captivating features of diamonds is their ability to disperse light into a dazzling display of colors, commonly referred to as brilliance. Imperfections, like inclusions and blemishes, can affect how light passes through the gem.

Both lab-grown and natural diamonds can have imperfections – diamonds without impurities and structural defects are exceptionally rare and valuable.

3. Transparency and color

In their purest form, diamonds are transparent and colorless. Still, it’s possible to find natural and man-made diamonds in a wide range of colors, from yellow and brown to rare and highly valuable hues like pink, blue, and green.

4. Value and Rarity

When it comes to value, natural diamonds hold a significant edge over their lab-grown counterparts. The price of lab-grown diamonds may be enticingly lower, but this is largely because they are becoming more common and easier to produce.

On the other hand, natural diamonds are subject to the fluctuations of supply and demand. Their value, unlike that of lab-grown diamonds, isn't just based on their size and quality, but also on their rarity. The more rare a diamond is, the higher its value. This is why natural diamonds tend to retain their value better over time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most common questions people ask when deciding between lab-grown and natural diamonds.

1. Are lab-grown diamonds real?

Yes, lab-grown diamonds are real diamonds. They possess the same physical, chemical, and optical properties as natural diamonds. The primary difference lies in their origin and how they are created.

2. Are lab-grown diamonds as durable as natural diamonds?

Lab-grown diamonds have the same durability and hardness as natural diamonds because they share the same chemical composition. They are equally resistant to scratching and suitable for everyday wear.

3. Can lab-grown diamonds be distinguished from natural diamonds?

Without specialized equipment, you cannot tell a lab-grown diamond from a natural diamond. Both types exhibit the same physical and chemical properties. One of the telltale signs gemologists use to differentiate between lab-grown and natural diamonds is the presence of nitrogen. Natural diamonds often contain tiny amounts of nitrogen, while lab-grown diamonds typically do not.

4. Do lab-grown diamonds have inclusions?

Lab-grown diamonds can have inclusions, just like natural diamonds. Inclusions are tiny imperfections that occur during the growth process. The clarity of lab-grown diamonds varies, ranging from FL to I3 similar to natural diamonds.

5. What does it mean if a diamond is “eye-clean?”

"Eye-clean" is a term commonly used to describe a gem that appears to be free of noticeable inclusions or blemishes when viewed with the naked eye. In other words, when you look at an eye-clean diamond without magnification tools like a jeweler's loupe or a microscope, you should not see imperfections, such as tiny internal flaws (inclusions) or surface irregularities (blemishes).

6. Are lab-grown diamonds certified?

Yes, lab-grown diamonds can be certified by recognized gemological laboratories. They undergo the same grading criteria as natural diamonds, assessing factors like the 4Cs (cut, clarity, color, carat weight) to determine their quality and value. At RW Fine, we only sell certified stones to ensure our customers can be confident in their investment.

7. Are lab-grown diamonds more affordable than natural diamonds?

Lab-grown diamonds are more affordable than natural diamonds of comparable quality. Factors like production costs, market demand, and the availability of supply influence the pricing of lab-grown diamonds.

8. Do lab diamonds hold their value over time?

While lab-grown diamonds are identical to natural diamonds in terms of their physical properties and appearance, their value over time is not the same. Natural diamonds often retain or even increase in value over time due to their rarity, whereas lab-grown diamonds may not. This is because lab diamonds can be produced on-demand, which could potentially decrease their resale value. However, like any gemstone, the value of a lab diamond will also depend on market demand, the quality of the stone, and how well it’s been cared for. For a diamond to be considered true investment quality, the price often starts in the low six-figure range.

Which Diamond Wins Your Heart?

Lab-grown and natural diamonds each have their own merits, and the choice comes down to your unique preferences and values.

Whether you're browsing for an engagement ring, a special gift, or a piece of jewelry to mark a milestone, the choice is ultimately yours. When you're ready to take the next step, we invite you to explore our exquisite collection of lab-grown and natural diamonds, each waiting to tell its own sparkling story.

For more information on lab-grown diamonds, visit this resource.

Written by Emily Huskinson