Are Lab-Grown Diamonds "Real" Diamonds?
Before we answer the questions here's a quick history of lab grown diamonds:
1940s: The history of lab-grown or synthetic diamonds dates back to the 1940s when General Electric (GE) formed a research and development team to make the best man-made diamond. However, due to the Second World War, the project was paused.
1950s: In the 1950s the first lab-grown diamond was successfully created. The first lab diamonds were initially developed for industrial and medical purposes, but they were so small and had very poor quality.
1980s: Over the years, the techniques has improve which facilitated the production of quality lab diamonds, good enough that they were finally made available commercially in the late 1980s.
Now, let’s answer the question I know everyone here wants to ask…
Are lab-grown diamonds real diamonds?
A resounding yes!
A lab-grown diamond is 100% real diamond. It has the same chemical properties and physical appearance as a natural diamond, and it would be really difficult, if not near impossible, for any jeweler to tell them apart without the use of a specialized laboratory equipment.
The only difference between lab diamonds and naturally mined ones is their origin.
How long does lab diamonds last?
Just like natural diamonds (since they’re basically the same in composition), lab grown diamonds are extremely durable and can stand the test of time.
Both lab-grown and natural diamonds rank 10 on Mohs scale, which means they’re the hardest mineral known to man. Although they are extremely hard, scratches and chipping can still occur when they come in contact with other diamonds or when hit hard enough. But unless you’re doing something extremely reckless, like using your diamond as a hammer, this isn't something you should worry about.
Do lab-grown diamonds lose their sparkle?
Nope, they don’t.
As mentioned, they undergo the same process and has the same chemical and physical composition as natural diamonds. They have all the properties and qualities that keep them from getting faded or cloudy over time.
However, if the diamond has a low clarity grade, chances of them having or developing inclusions are high.
An inclusion is essentially a “birthmark” of a diamond. They develop due to the extreme heat and pressure a diamond undergoes when it’s formed.
Both lab-grown and natural occurring diamonds have these inclusions. The color, number, size and location of these inclusions affect the diamond’s clarity, which in turn affect the stone’s overall sparkle.
Are lab-grown diamonds the same diamond simulants?
No, they’re not.
Diamonds simulants or imitation diamonds, like moissanites and cubic zirconia, are gems created to mimic diamonds, without actually being diamonds. Lab diamonds, on the other hand, are 100% authentic diamonds.
Why purchase a lab-grown diamond?
Lab-created diamonds are more affordable than naturally mined diamonds because they’re lot faster and easier to source. Unlike the mining of natural diamonds which require for vast swathes of land to be cleared out first, lab-grown diamonds are created in a controlled laboratory setting.
Sustainability and Ethicality
One thing to keep in mind when buying a lab grown diamond is that you aren’t purchasing a lesser quality diamond, you’re getting a forever gemstone that was produced more sustainably.
Sourcing natural diamonds leave immense carbon footprint as diamond mining requires vast expanses of land to be explored and mined, displacing wildlife and impacting local ecosystems. Also, if you’ve seen the movie Blood Diamond, you’ll know that in some parts of the world, the diamond trade has been linked to child labor, employment abuse, violence and other atrocities.
Sourcing lab-grown diamonds, on the other hand, is considered conflict-free.
Tips when purchasing lab diamonds
Lab-grown diamonds are graded the same way as the mined ones…using the 4Cs – color, cut, clarity, and carat.
Before you buy your lab diamond, make sure it comes with a certificate and a comprehensive grading report. The report typically details the diamond’s classification, its 4Cs, its origin and other characteristics.
There is a range of labs that grade diamond quality, but the most reputable certifications are those done by the International Gemological Institute (IGI) and Gemological Institute of America (GIA).
Should I choose lab diamonds vs mined diamonds?
Whether you chose one over the other is personal preference. The choice is yours and sometimes it’s deeply personal, so we’re not here to sway you either way. :)