In recent years, the creation of lab-grown diamonds, sometimes also referred to as synthetic diamonds or man-made diamonds, has been one of the most significant technological advances in the jewelry industry.
It is important to note that scientists have been 'growing' diamonds in labs for many years now. These lab-grown stones were mainly used for industrial purposes. However, with recent technological advances, labs can create diamonds that are of high enough quality and are large enough to be used in jewelry. As a result, the demand for these gemstones has increased suddenly.
Whether it's an engagement ring or a diamond pendant you're looking for, remember that the lab-grown vs. mined diamonds debate is still alive and well, making it essential for us to understand this new option better.
What are lab-grown diamonds?
Most people do not exactly know what lab-grown diamonds are. When most people hear the words lab-grown or lab-created diamonds, they automatically assume fake or simulated gems. No one likes fake diamonds!
But that is absolutely not true. These lab-grown gems are real diamonds. While these are created or "grown" inside a lab, the technology used for these man-made diamonds mimics what happens in the earth when a natural diamond is formed. Because of this reason, many believe that the only thing that makes a lab-grown diamond different from a natural diamond is its origin.
Diamonds created inside a lab are graded and certified using the same process as mined diamonds. Moreover, these man-made diamonds are also evaluated with the same color, clarity, cut, and carat size (the "4 Cs") and can even be found in all similar shapes (e.g., round, brilliant, princess, emerald, etc.) as the diamonds that are mined.
How are lab-grown diamonds created?
Understanding how diamonds are created in labs is not so simple. First, you need to know how naturally-mined diamonds are formed. Natural diamonds form when pure carbon undergoes extremely high pressure and temperature over billions of years under the earth's surface. It can take centuries-long ground movement to bring these natural diamonds to the earth's surface embedded in huge rocks. These gems are then excavated from the rocks through mining before the natural diamonds are collected for sale to the public.
The process for lab-grown diamonds is a lot like that of naturally-mined diamonds. Labs use a single carbon "seed," a small splinter or a shard of a diamond, and take it through a process that is identical to that of the earth's natural process for forming diamonds. The carbon is put under extreme heat and pressure.
Lab-grown diamonds are created using one of two processes; High-Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) or Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD). The carbon seed will slowly form into a crystalline structure through one of these processes. Labs create diamonds that are physically, chemically, and optically the same as natural diamonds that are mined.
Benefits of lab-grown diamonds
A lab-grown diamond with a similar size, clarity, and color will cost up to 40% less than a naturally-mined diamond. The short supply chain process of creating diamonds in a lab is cost-effective.
Lab-grown diamonds are ethically sourced and conflict-free. You no longer have to worry about purchasing a "blood diamond." No miners are harmed or exploited during the making of lab-grown diamonds. As no mining is required, lab-grown diamonds do not harm the environment or put workers in unsanitary and dangerous conditions.
Lab-grown diamonds continue to grow in popularity, with even the leading diamond companies worldwide, such as De Beers, getting in on the lab-grown diamond game. There is no significant difference between lab-grown and natural diamonds as these man-made gems have the same exact atomic makeup as natural diamonds.
Drawbacks of lab-grown diamonds
As lab-grown diamonds are manufactured, they can be produced in batches. Therefore, the diamond will not be a rare, one-of-a-kind stone.
Lab-grown diamonds are still relatively new in the jewelry industry, so their long-term value is not yet clear. While the increasing demand could mean that the price of man-made diamonds will surge, it is essential to note that advancements in lab-grown diamond technologies could mean that the value of previously sold diamonds might plummet.
Lab-grown diamonds might not be a very stable investment option because of the uncertainty around the value of these gems, which makes their resale value questionable. If you plan to give a diamond to the love of your life to express commitment, resale value should not be top of mind.