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Lab-Grown Diamonds vs. Earth-Mined Diamonds

Lab Grown Diamonds vs. Earth-Mined Diamonds

Can lab-made diamonds hold a candle to earth-mined diamonds? At Jeweler’s Touch, we know the answer is a definite “yes!” From quality to clarity to manufacturing and source, we will dig deep below the surface to unearth the facts surrounding lab diamonds. You may be surprised with a few of the nuggets we reveal.

Earth-Mined Diamonds: Origin and Formation

Contrary to what people may think, earth-mined diamonds do not come from coal. Natural diamonds are each unique and most of them pre-date the first land plants, which is the source material for coal. 

Naturally-made diamonds are the product of carbon dioxide under intense pressure deep in the earth, about 150 miles deep. The heat from the earth's core heats the carbon to 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit. The pressure from the rock is about 725,000 pounds per square inch. The heat and pressure force the carbon atoms to each other in the characteristic diamond formation.

Some gemologists would argue that earth-mined diamonds have a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ and indescribable mystique that simply can’t be recreated in a laboratory. Earth-mined diamonds are a coveted extravagance, not to mention a lasting symbol of love and courtship. For many, the natural origin is of top importance.

But you shouldn’t be quick to disparage the modern version of a natural diamond. There are some perks, like price and affordability, that grab the attention of diamond aficionados both old and new.

What Are Lab-Grown Diamonds?

There are many differences between lab and natural diamonds. The most obvious difference is that one is created deep below the Earth’s surface, and the other is scientifically manufactured in a lab. 

Creating diamonds in a lab is still a fairly new technology, but it’s growing in popularity, especially among younger generations. They have identical compositions to earth-mined diamonds, but how that's achieved is significantly different. 

There are two common methods for making lab diamonds. One is the High-Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) and the other is CVD (Chemical Vapor Deposition). HPHT mimics the natural process of high pressure and temperature. It is a very expensive process because it requires a lot of energy and specialized equipment. CVD uses a gas chamber and a diamond seed crystal. It is less expensive than HPHT because it works at lower temperatures and pressures. 

Quality and Characteristics

The quality is continually increasing, and to the naked eye, you wouldn’t have a clue you are looking at a manufactured creation.

Originally the two methods produced discolored stones. HPHT gems have a yellow tone and CVD gems are brownish. 

Post-growth treatment is a finishing step in the growing process for a lab-created diamond. Most CVD diamonds have a brown or yellow tint when they come out of the growing chamber. Growers use HPHT to attempt to remove the color. In some cases, they can remove all the color. 

The HPHT treatment won't change the diamond or wear away over time, even with steam or heat cleaning.

IGI and GIA grading reports list post-growth treatments under the additional comments section to provide transparency to buyers.

The color of the CVD stones improved by using a higher-quality seed crystal and increasing the pressure and temperature in the chamber. Adding nitrogen or boron to the chamber results in a yellow or blueish color.

Environmental Impact

The environmental impact of lab vs. earth diamonds is unclear. The biggest environmental impact of lab-grown diamonds is the high energy consumption that’s traceable to coal, oil, or nuclear sources, depending on what the local energy source is. As energy sources and technologies improve, the sustainability of lab-grown diamonds may also improve. 

On the other hand, excavating natural diamonds takes enormous effort and resources. While some may argue that purchasing mined diamonds offers economic growth to developing countries, the mining practices may still be less than ‘green.’

Pricing and Affordability

When you compare the cost of lab diamonds vs. earth-mined diamonds, the differences between the two are vast. The price of lab-grown diamonds is about 30 to 50 percent below the cost of natural diamonds. Like their organic counterparts, lab-grown diamonds are graded according to the four Cscarat, cut, color, and clarity. But it’s no mystery that the cost of earth-mined diamonds far surpasses that of lab-grown diamonds. 

That said, there is another important facet to consider. Mined diamonds are a fixed commodity. Despite overall market fluctuations, the value of an earth-mined diamond remains steady at three percent growth per year. Since the manufacturing of lab-grown diamonds is only increasing, the market has no discernible cap. This hinders long-term stability and makes lab-grown diamonds' values uncertain. A lab-grown diamond in 2016 sold for $10,600 but that same diamond in 2023 sold for $2,445.

If you are looking for long-term value from an investment standpoint, natural diamonds are the way to go, hands-down.

Market Trends and Consumer Preferences

Though the classic designs remain timeless, unique and one-of-a-kind pieces that express personality are on the rise. For many consumers, natural diamonds have sentimental value and a romantic appeal that labs can’t recreate.

Lack of consumer education also plays a role in their popularity or lack thereof. Despite their beauty, some consumers view them as inferior.

Finally, because of their uncertain long-term value, many insurance companies don’t cover lab-grown diamonds. Check your policy and speak with your provider before purchasing.

Customization and Design Options

New chemical vapor depository technology applies intense and consistent pressure to create stunningly earth-mined replicas. The only difference between lab-grown diamonds and earth-mined ones is the place and process in which they were manufactured.

Lab-grown diamonds have the same composition of pure carbon and even the same physical markings as earth-mined diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds are Type IIa diamonds, considered the purest diamond crystal in existence. So while lab-grown diamonds aren't earth-mined, they’re immaculate. 

Choosing the Right Diamond for You

If you are searching for extraordinary jewelry in Southern California, look no further than Jeweler’s Touch.

Whether you’re searching for earth-mined gems or a more affordable lab-grown diamond, we have experienced gemologists and jewelers to help you find the perfect custom piece, rare diamond, or gemstone. If you can dream it, we can deliver it.

With decades of experience in custom jewelry, precious stones, and diamonds, Jeweler’s Touch invites you to visit our showroom and marvel at our wide selection of high-end jewelry. We even offer layaway plans and helpful financial options. Start new traditions and contact us online today or call (714) 868-7556.

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