NATURAL VS LAB GROWN DIAMONDS- WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

naturally mined diamonds

“Is a lab diamond even a real diamond” , a common and also valid question asked to jeweller’s on a daily basis. The answer to this question is YES! Of course it is. I know it’s hard to believe that technology has evolved so much that mankind can now create diamonds that are highly sustainable, ethical and chemically, optically and visually identical to naturally mined diamonds. The term ‘lab’ is indeed one that sounds very technical and somewhat unromantic but I promise you this, lab diamonds are beautiful, real diamonds which I will educate you about in fine detail throughout this blog post.

lab vs natural diamond
lab vs natural diamond

NATURAL DIAMONDS

Let’s start by doing a deep dive on natural diamonds. By natural, I mean the diamonds formed naturally deep in the Earth’s crust without any help from mankind. Diamonds really came to the World’s attention in the 1800’s and have been heavily mined since then across the World. The top five diamond mining countries globally are Botswana, Republic of the Congo, Russia, Canada and Australia. . A natural diamond can take billions of years to grow deep underneath the earth’s surface hence why they are more expensive than a lab diamond. It actually has nothing to do with the quality or the finish of the diamond, more so the scarcity. A natural diamond may be viewed as precious in nature and a miracle created by planet earth. A natural diamond is formed from carbon being subjected to extreme heat and pressure deep underneath the earth’s crust. However over the years, the natural mining of diamonds has caused environmental devastation due to poor planning and weak regulations. This chaotic mining has resulted in deforestation, soil erosion and loss of local communities, forcing relocation. Therefore the sustainability and ethics of the natural diamond mining industry has come under real scrutiny in recent times as we move towards a more eco-friendly world that is kinder to the earth and humanity. And so we welcomed the birth of the lab grown diamond with open arms. 

Naturally mined diamonds after cutting

REAL TALK: WHAT IS A LAB GROWN DIAMOND?

Cubic Zirconia and Moissanite are what we would refer to as a “fake diamond ”in the industry. People often confuse a lab diamond among these. Cubic Zirconia and Moissanite are fake as they are mass produced and do not not contain even a percentage of a carbon chemical composition. I mean they can still look the part but quality and durability does not compare to that or a real diamond.  We would refer to these stones as ‘costume jewelry’ in the industry.

A lab grown diamond is a diamond that is grown in a lab environment over time from a natural diamond seed using carbon atoms and intense heat pressure. Once the diamond is fully grown in the lab the process of preparing the diamond for selling is 100% the same as the natural diamond process. The only difference being that it wasn’t dug up from the earth. The chemical structure is almost identical,  the one  chemical difference being that a natural diamond contains a small level of nitrogen. Both diamonds enter the system in the same way. What I mean by that is that the cutting, shaping, polishing and finishing is exactly the same. The diamond industry has now totally embraced lab diamonds as a more ethical, sustainable option. Origin of the stone is really the only separating factor. Lab diamonds are all unique stones and are not mass produced by any means.

WHAT’S A FAKE DIAMOND THEN I HEAR YOU SAY…

Cubic Zirconia and Moissanite are what we would refer to as a “fake diamond ”in the industry. People often confuse a lab diamond among these. Cubic Zirconia and Moissanite are fake as they are mass produced and do not not contain even a percentage of a carbon chemical composition. I mean they can still look the part but quality and durability does not compare to that or a real diamond.  We would refer to these stones as ‘costume jewelry’ in the industry.

Fake vs Real Diamonds
Fake vs Real Diamonds

WHY BUY A LAB DIAMOND OVER A NATURAL?

Ok so now that you know the in’s and out’s on naturals, labs and fakes let’s get down to business. We want to educate you on why to consider choosing a lab diamond. Lab diamonds are just fantastic, have I mentioned they’re ethical, sustainable and well very affordable. By choosing a lab you can have the carat size you always dreamed of for a much more appealing price than that of a natural. Why? Well a lab diamond is substantially cheaper for a few reasons; 1. A lab-created diamond touches fewer hands than in the mining process so it’s more cost-effective. 2. Lab-grown diamonds are created in a tiny fraction of the time it takes natural diamonds to form, which results in lower costs. 3. Natural diamond supply is limited, due to the billions of years it takes for nature to create a diamond. Yet with synthetic diamonds, there is no cap on the supply, which drives the price lower and lower as supply goes up. I didn’t hear anything about colour, clarity, cut or carat , that is because there is no difference. Many potential consumers have an idea that a lab is a less valuable stone but this is certainly not the case.

Lab diamonds
Beautiful Labs in Round Brilliant, Cushion and Princess cuts

2 TYPES OF LAB DIAMONDS 

One final section to make you an expert in lab diamonds. Let’s talk about the two different types of lab diamonds and what makes the processes different. So we have  High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT) and Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD). Brain overload I know, but let’s break it down nice and simply. So the giveaway of the HPHT method is in the name. Intense heat (1500 degrees Celsius, or 2700 Fahrenheit) and pressure is placed on the diamond seed and the carbon atoms that are coating it. Whereas on the CVD method, less heat and pressure is used. Instead a mix of chemical gases that break down and harden into  crystallized carbon atoms is used. No method is better or worse. With both methods, the result is the same; a man-made diamond, created from scratch in a matter of weeks.

Summary of both lab processes
Summary of both lab processes

Thanks so much for reading, we hope this has educated you more on the real differences between naturals and labs and all elements to consider when choosing your dream ring.