Understand their difference and similarities, if any.
The subject of lab-produced diamonds has been a contentious one, drawing attention, both negative and positive, in recent years. When choosing between lab-produced and natural diamonds several factors can be considered. The main differences between the two are discussed below to help you decide where to invest your hard-earned money.
How is Diamond Naturally Formed?
Natural diamonds are produced deep within the Earth when Carbon atoms are pushed together under high temperature and pressure. Diamonds were formed around 3 billion years ago and are found at depths of 150-200km below the Earth’s surface. Volcanic activity pushes them up through the crust and they are secured in a volcanic rock formation called kimberlite pipes. Only 5% of kimberlite pipes have sufficient diamonds to be considered as economically viable to mine.
How Are Lab-produced Diamonds made?
Two methods are used in producing lab diamonds: High pressure and temperature or Chemical Vapour Deposition.
1. High pressure and high temperature (HPHT)
HPHT diamonds are manufactured by replicating the high temperature and pressure which forms natural diamonds underground. This method produces a diamond that has a distinct cub-octahedral shape.
2. Chemical vapour deposition (CVD)
This process breaks down molecules of carbon-rich gases, like methane, into hydrogen and carbon atoms. The atoms are planted on diamond seeds that result in a tabular and square-shaped crystal. Diamonds produced via CVD usually need additional treatments such as irradiation or heat which enhances the diamond’s colour after the growth process.
Laboratory-produced diamonds usually weigh less than or equal to 1 carat, but bigger stones are becoming available as technology improves.
Lab-Produced Diamonds are More Sustainable
Lab diamonds need at least a week to a few months to grow, depending on the desired size and method used. This is more sustainable compared to digging up approximately 100,000 tons of rock for one high-quality crystal.
Environmental Impacts of Diamond Production
There is no doubt that diamonds are exquisite to behold, but unfortunately, their production has impacts on the environment, ranging from ecosystem destruction to de-forestation and soil erosion. Laboratory production of diamonds bypasses these ethical and environmental issues in diamond mining.
In terms of environmental impact, production of these stones relies on fossil fuels for energy and, similarly, a significant amount of power is required to produce a lab diamond. This results in a considerable amount of potential carbon pollution. A 2019 report indicated that lab-grown diamonds produce 3x greenhouse gas emissions as compared to their mined counterparts (although it does have to be said that the study was funded by a group of Natural Diamond producers).
Distinguishing Between Lab-Produced and Earth-Produced Diamonds
It’s quite hard to differentiate between natural diamonds and lab diamonds because they are both comprised of the same element – Carbon. A professional gemmologist would need to use specialised equipment to distinguish Lab-Grown from Natural diamond.
Both types can be colourless or almost colourless. They are also available in several candy colours. They also come in various shapes such as oval, round, marquise, princess, radiant, pear, cushion, and Asscher-cut.
The brilliance and sparkle of natural and lab diamonds are the same. People will not know that you have a lab diamond unless you tell them. The differences are not visible to the naked eye. Magnification is required to identify small contrasts in the inclusions of a lab diamond versus a natural one.
The most effective way to note the difference is to review the diamond’s certification. Jewellers declare whether the diamond is synthetically or naturally created. You can always access this information as long as you purchase diamonds from a reliable source. It is important to pay close attention to this information, because it dramatically affects the price and resale value of a diamond.
Lab-Produced Diamonds are Cheaper
The price of lab diamonds is constantly changing. There was a time when they were 23% to 25% more costly than natural diamonds, but currently they are 30 to 50% cheaper.
The supply of diamonds is the biggest factor in the price of natural diamonds and the availability of them is much more limited than that of Lab-Grown diamonds – It takes around 3 billion years for nature to produce a diamond but there is no limit to the supply of synthetic diamonds, driving prices even lower as supply continues to grow.
Lab Grown Diamond Value vs. Natural Diamond Value
A good example price difference can be seen in two pieces offered by James Allen. A natural 1ct, G, VS1, round diamond is being sold at $5670. On the other hand, a lab-produced, 1ct, G, VS1, round diamond is being sold at $1,990. The prices differ by 35% despite having identical grades.
Lab-grown diamonds prices decrease at an exponential rate, and there are no signs of this trend ceasing or reversing. Take this into consideration when making your purchase. A synthetic diamond valued at $1,000 may decrease in value over the next few years.
Are Lab-Produced Diamonds Considered Fake Diamonds?
Many people consider lab-produced diamonds as fake, but this is not true. The fact that their chemical structure is purely carbon-based makes them real diamonds, unlike moissanite or cubic zirconia, which are diamond simulants. They were also produced from a laboratory, but they are not made up of carbon atoms, so they are not considered “real” diamonds.
Differences between Lab-Grown Diamonds and Simulated Diamonds
Natural and lab diamonds are inherently identical in terms of appearance, hardness, and feel. There is a stark difference when it comes to lab-produced diamond and a simulant:
- Simulants don’t give off the same sparkle or brilliance as real diamonds.
- Real diamonds score a perfect 10 on the Mohs scale, whereas simulants have a hardness of 8 or 9.
- Simulants possess lower value and are considered a poor investment.
Professionals’ Opinions concerning Natural vs Lab Diamonds
The Federal Trade Commission recognised lab-produced diamonds as genuine in 2018 and they are tested to be real. In fact, the Gemmological Institute of America (GIA) has been grading them since 2007.
In 2019, the Laboratory-Grown Diamond reports from GIA no longer utilised the term “synthetic”. They also add the standard GIA colour, cut, and clarity grading scale for reference.
Purchase Authentic Diamonds from Argyle Diamond Investments
Choosing between a lab-grown or natural diamond will depend on your personal preferences. Whatever your decision, the most important factor is the Diamond’s certification from a reputable gemmologist.
If you’re planning to grow your money with these precious stones, Argyle Diamond Investments can work with you and together we can collaborate with the biggest authorised sources in Australia. Call us today on to get high-quality diamonds at the lowest price.