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13 Things to Know About Lab Grown (Synthetic) Diamonds

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Lab grown diamonds are sparking more and more public interest every year and for many good reasons. A great alternative to natural diamonds, lab grown stones can be used for any type of jewelry – engagement rings, necklaces, earrings, and any type of jewelry natural diamonds can be used for.

What’s more, lab grown diamonds are also much more affordable and lack many of the natural inclusions, blemishes, and other flaws natural diamonds often have.

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And yet, there are still many myths about lab grown diamonds floating around. Many people view them as “fake” diamonds, others worry that there’s something wrong with them, and even many of those that know what a lab grown diamond is often view them as inferior and less valuable.

So, to shed some light on lab grown diamonds, here are the main things you need to know about them.

1. What is a lab grown diamond?

Round shape diamond

Laboratory-grown diamonds are a true marvel of modern technology and science. Lab technicians create them by recreating the same geological conditions natural diamonds experience in the Earth’s crust. The difference is that it’s all done in a lab.

And instead of the whole process taking hundreds of thousands or millions of years, a lab grown diamond can “grow” as quickly in several months. The reason this is possible is that scientists today are able to create the perfect temperature, chemical, and physical conditions to grow diamonds as quickly and effectively as possible using advance state-of-the-art technology. This is still a time-consuming and labor-intense procedure.

See more lab-grown diamonds here.

2. Are lab grown diamonds real?

Aside from their different creation process, lab grown diamonds are indeed real – they are truly “grown” from the same ingredients as natural diamonds.

There are many “fake diamonds” on the market, of course, but those are entirely different gemstones instead. These include natural but less expensive stones like zircon, white sapphire and white topaz, as well as other lab-grown stones like cubic zirconia, which look like diamonds but are something else altogether.

But lab grown diamonds are as real as natural diamonds – you’re not being sold a fake or an imitation. Just like a greenhouse vegetable is as real as its wild veggie counterpart, so are lab grown diamonds.

3. How are lab grown diamonds different from natural diamonds?

There is no visual difference between natural and lab grown diamonds to the naked eye. There are some differences which can be identified with 10x magnification. These can include the following:

  • One main difference between these two is in the crystal structures, which is due to the difference in the environment in which they’re grown.
  • Another point of difference is the type of inclusions that each variety contains. Mined diamonds have a range of inclusions including metal impurities, which lab diamonds never  have.
  • Natural diamonds have a tiny amount of nitrogen present in them which lab grown diamonds lack. This doesn’t really affect the visual appearance, hardness, or quality of either type of diamond. It’s just a small chemical difference that’s worth noting. If lab technicians wanted to, they could add nitrogen to lab grown diamonds but there’s just no reason to bother with it.
  • Lab grown diamonds typically have a miniature inscription at the bottom, indicating which lab they’ve been grown in. This also doesn’t affect their visual appearance in any way. It’s just an indicator for jewelers to know where each diamond is coming from.

4. Are lab grown diamonds “cheap” or less prestigious than natural diamonds?

Lab grown diamonds are more affordable than natural diamonds because they are easier to produce. A lab grown diamond will usually cost between two and three times less than a natural diamond of equivalent quality.

And, while lab grown stones aren’t inferior in any visual or technical way, they are indeed less prestigious than their natural counterparts in many people’s eyes. That is a pity considering their quality but it’s understandable – some of the factors that determine a diamonds’ value are their uniqueness and rarity which isn’t a factor with lab grown stones.

However, there’s a growing trend of couples purchasing lab created diamonds, with the sales of mined diamonds declining each year.

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5. Are lab grown diamonds worth it?

Lab grown diamonds are much less expensive than their mined counterparts. A 1 carat lab diamond will set you back about $2,500 while a similar mined diamond will cost over $6500.

Considering that most diamonds do not appreciate in value over time, this is a saving right from the start. There are so many other places you could put those saved 1000s of dollars.

However, for some, lab grown diamonds aren’t worth it because they’re not the ‘real’ deal. They didn’t take millions of years in nature. They also have a lower resale value.

6. How long do lab grown diamonds last?

There’s nothing about lab grown diamonds that’d make them last less than natural diamonds. They rank 10 on the Mohs scale and are the hardest gemstones on earth.

If you take good care of your lab grown diamond it will last for centuries, just as a natural diamond would. In fact, given that lab grown diamonds have no natural inclusions and blemishes, they may even last longer than mid-quality natural diamonds.

All that being said, lab grown diamonds are a fairly new invention so we don’t really have statistical evidence for just how long they can last on average.

7. Do lab grown diamonds get cloudy?

Lab grown diamonds tend to have great visual clarity because they lack most natural blemishes and inclusions of natural diamonds. So, just like high-quality natural diamonds, lab grown stones don’t tend to get cloudy.

8. Can a jeweler tell a lab grown diamond apart from a natural diamond?

The only way for a jeweler to tell the difference between a natural and a lab grown diamond is to look for a lab’s inscription or to check the nitrogen levels of the stone. Lab grown diamonds are always inscribed by the lab that has produced them and natural stones have a very minor level of nitrogen in them.

As neither of those things changes the visual appearance of the stone, however, a jeweler that’s looking at any other characteristics of the diamond shouldn’t be able to tell if it’s natural or lab grown.

9. Is it more ethical to get a lab grown diamond?

Yes, in virtually every way. For one, lab grown diamonds are created at little to no expense of the environment. Also, there’s no forced or slave labor involved as is still often the case with natural diamonds.

The Kimberley Process has done a lot of good work in the last two decades to reduce the number of the so-called natural “blood” diamonds in circulation, but the natural diamond trade still has a long way to go until it can be considered “ethical”. The environmental disruption, which is a byproduct of the natural diamond mining industry, is devastating with whole eco-systems being destroyed.

With lab grown diamonds, on the other hand, that’s just not an issue.

10. Do lab grown diamonds sparkle?

As much as natural diamonds. In fact, the average lab grown diamond is of a higher quality than the average natural diamond as they don’t encounter the impurities and undesirable conditions that most natural diamonds are subject to. As a result, lab grown diamonds have fewer inclusions and blemishes than the average natural diamond and therefore have better clarity and sparkle more.

11. Are there colored lab grown diamonds?

Blue lab grown diamond

Colored blue diamond by Brilliant Earth. See more colored lab diamonds here.

Indeed, there are. While high-quality mined colored diamonds are extremely rare and expensive, colored lab grown diamonds can be grown just as easily as colorless ones. So, if you see a beautiful colored diamond for sale at an affordable price, chances are that it’s a lab grown diamond (or it’s not a diamond at all).

12. Does jewelry made with lab grown diamonds make for a valuable heirloom?

Depends on what you mean by “valuable heirloom.” Because lab grown diamonds are not as rare and expensive as natural diamonds, they are not valued as much by collectors. So, if you’re thinking about the monetary value of a jewelry heirloom piece made with lab grown diamond – it won’t be as valuable as one made with natural diamonds. Collectors simply won’t pay as much for it.

However, if you’re thinking about the visual, quality, and nostalgic value of a jewelry heirloom made with lab grown diamonds – there’s no reason why that value should be lower. Lab grown diamonds are just as beautiful and durable as natural diamonds so a family heirloom made with them will be just as gorgeous and long-lasting as one made with natural stones.

13. Where can I buy a lab grown diamond?

Most jewelers nowadays will have lab grown diamonds in their collections, including reputable jewelers like Brilliant Earth and James Allen. Wherever you want to get a lab grown diamond from, make sure the stone is certified by AGS (American Gemological Society) or another reputable laboratory. AGS-certified lab grown diamonds should have the letters “LG” in their clarity or color grades to indicate that the stone is indeed lab grown.