Nothing makes a statement quite like a bright, sparkling diamond. But the price tag? That can be eye-popping in its own way. If a gorgeous diamond is part of the proposed plans, it’s important to explore your options and find one that fits your style and budget.
Whether you’re searching for a large, colourless stone or something more delicate, widening your options to include lab-grown diamonds opens up a whole new world of options. Lab-grown diamonds are becoming increasingly popular, and for good reason—they’re just as beautiful as their natural counterparts but without the hefty price tag.
Not only can jewellery shoppers who choose lab-grown diamonds enjoy significant savings, but there are also other benefits associated with lab-grown diamonds.
Why Are Lab-Grown Diamonds Worth Considering?
The controlled manufacturing process helps make lab-created diamonds much more affordable than their natural counterparts. But just how much more affordable are we talking about? Although the final cost will vary based on carat weight, color, and clarity, lab-grown diamonds are often 50 – 70% less than natural/mined diamonds of the same quality. This price discrepancy comes from the fact that there are only a finite amount of natural diamonds left while there is an infinite amount of lab-grown diamonds that can be manufactured. For many buyers, those savings are enough to make their choice much easier.
Choosing an ethically sourced diamond is important for some shoppers. Between conflict diamonds and the debate on the ethics of diamond mining in general, international efforts have significantly decreased the number of conflict diamonds on the market and improved tracing and verification. However, plenty of buyers would prefer to avoid potential ethical issues entirely and refuse to consider any natural diamonds.
Lab-grown diamonds, on the other hand, have a clean history that is 100% traceable. This is because they are made using two methods: high-pressure high temperature (HPHT) or chemical vapor deposition (CVD).
The HPHT Method is most similar to how natural diamonds are grown in that an environment is created where extreme heat (up to 2200°F) and extreme pressure (1.5 million pounds per square inch) are applied to a carbon seed. After a careful cooling process, pure carbon forms around the original seed which is then used as the rough diamond. In total, this process can take several days to weeks depending on the size of the diamond being created.
CVD diamonds are made under less intense conditions and in a slower developing process taking around 6 to 12 weeks. A small diamond seed is placed inside a sealed chamber and subjected to intense heat, sometimes reaching 1500°F. Hydrogen and methane are introduced to the chamber and then ionized to break down molecular bonds thus causing a pure carbon atom to attach itself to the seed. As the carbon builds, it forms atomic bonds with the diamond seed creating one, larger diamond.
Since both processes are carried out in well-controlled laboratory settings, you can be sure your lab-grown diamond is ethically “sourced.”
Lab-grown diamonds and natural diamonds are 100% identical physically and chemically. It takes a trained gemologist with special equipment to differentiate natural and lab-grown diamonds.
Both lab-grown and natural diamonds can also feature inclusions (imperfections that form within a diamond during its growth process). Most people believe that since lab-grown diamonds are formed in a lab, they lack any inclusions, but that is untrue! However, these types of inclusions can vary in synthetic diamonds based on the method used to grow them. They can also help differentiate between the types of formation (natural or lab-grown).
For both HPHT and CVD diamonds, there are outside elements used as catalysts to help grow the diamond. During this process, any of the catalysts can become trapped within the diamond’s structure and become inclusions. For the most part, GIA identifies all inclusions within lab-grown diamonds as “Growth Remnants” regardless of the inclusion’s shape or size. As with natural diamonds, lab-grown diamonds can also have feathers which are surface-reaching inclusions that occur during the cutting process.
It’s no secret that natural diamonds aren’t exactly eco-friendly. From the equipment used in the mines themselves to the destruction of the Earth to create the mines, many shoppers can’t overlook the environmental harm that comes with natural diamonds.
Alternatively, lab-grown diamonds offer hope in terms of sustainability because they can be grown utilizing renewable energy sources. If you are the type to be cautious regarding your carbon footprint, a lab-grown diamond is definitely the better option.
While diamonds are an engagement and wedding tradition, they are also becoming more modern. Natural gems are no longer the only option for jewelry shoppers on the hunt for sparkle, shine, and quality. If you are searching for a diamond that will last forever and won’t break the bank, a lab-grown diamond may be the perfect choice for you.