Lab-Grown Diamonds vs. Natural Diamonds: Everything You Need to Know

Diamonds

Natural diamonds are breathtaking works of art created by the earth over millennia. These diamonds have inclusions, or small flaws, caused during their formation. Like a snowflake, no two diamonds are alike, and their inclusions may come in feather, heart, or even the shape of an animal. Instead of devaluing them, imperfections make diamonds more beautiful and are a tremendous selling point.

Through advanced scientific processes, labs are able to create something it took the earth millions of years to make. Sometimes, they’re almost too good at it. It’s difficult to create unique flaws in the way that nature can, making them less eye-catching. They are, however, a spectacular reproduction of the natural process.

The History of Diamonds, Synthetic and Natural

Natural diamonds have been used in jewelry for centuries, but they were neither popular nor affordable for most people. Then in 1947, De Beers launched the “Diamonds are Forever” campaign in an effort to increase diamond demand. This effort was incredibly successful, and led to diamonds being the standard stone in engagement rings, like those we see today.

Lab-grown diamonds (a.k.a. synthetic diamonds), on the other hand, are a much newer entry to the market. The first synthetic diamonds were discovered rather than lab-created. In 1893, Dr. Henri Moissan found diamonds at the site of a meteorite impact, which showed scientists that it was possible to make a diamond. It would be 60 years before lab-grown diamonds were commercially-produced, and even longer until they gained mainstream popularity.

Since the start of diamond lab production, innumerable industrial uses have been found for lab-created diamonds like drilling, grinding, cutting, as well as jewelry.

What’s the Difference Between Lab-Grown Diamonds vs. Natural Diamonds?

What’s the Difference Between Synthetic and Natural Diamonds?

Initially, diamonds were created in labs for technological purposes, due to their hardness and resilience (necessary for many technical tasks). Unlike natural diamonds, synthetic (or lab-grown) diamonds are developed within a few days or weeks via CVD (chemical vapor deposition) and HPHT (high-pressure, high-temperature) methods.

Synthetic stones have precisely the same chemical and physical characteristics of natural diamonds, but – thanks to the advance of science –larger, internally flawless diamonds are more easily-created. Meanwhile, real diamonds take millions of years to form under the pressure of the earth.

These days, the differences aren’t always as obvious to the naked eye, but they are definitely there. Even high quality synthetic diamonds have subtle differences, such as the color they fluoresce. Newer processes also allow labs to create rare diamonds (like a type IIa diamond), which normally wouldn’t be available to most people. Natural diamonds may be flawed, but that’s certainly what makes them more beautiful and one-of-a-kind.

How to Tell Natural and Lab-Created Diamonds Apart

If you find a flawless diamond, it should raise your suspicions since flawless diamonds are extremely rare. Natural diamonds come in many colors and may even be slightly tinted, whereas most synthetic diamonds are white.

With highly sophisticated processes, it’s much harder to tell the difference between a lab-created diamond and a natural one. That doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. There are some definitive ways to know what type of diamond you have. Most of these ways are complicated and expensive, like testing fluorescence, which requires specialized equipment.

Sometimes there are simpler, cheaper ways to find out, like looking for a laser-etched inscription. However, the etching isn’t a requirement and as lab-created diamonds become more advanced, it’s harder to identify them.

How do The 4 C’s Compare Between Lab-Created Diamonds and Natural Diamonds?

How do The 4 C’s Compare Between Synthetic and Natural Diamonds?

Synthetic diamonds share the same physical properties and chemical compositions as their natural counterparts. However, unlike natural diamonds, synthetic diamonds are almost always internally flawless.

Lab-created diamonds are known for their consistency and perfection. This means that, quite literally, there are thousands of identical diamonds on the market today. This lack of rarity prevents them from having any definitive resale value.

Less than 2% of naturally-mined diamonds are free of imperfections, and of those, most are “colorless.” If a flawless diamond is being sold, this should raise suspicion. Natural diamonds have an unmatched brilliance and color that isn’t easily fabricated, and there is almost always some color or flaw within.

The Emotional Attachment to Diamonds

According to some, a diamond isn’t just its chemical structure: It’s a stone steeped in history, beauty, and symbolism – something that a synthetic diamond fails to provide. “l

Natural diamonds are hard to match when it comes to emotional aspects. A gift that has formed in the earth for billions of years is infinitely more romantic than something created in a lab. While synthetic diamonds can be customized, they simply don’t have the allure that natural diamonds do.

Synthetic Diamonds Also Have an Environmental Impact

lab-grown diamonds vs. natural diamonds impact in environment

It’s true that natural diamonds have a serious impact on the environment, but synthetic diamonds present their own environmental complications.

Many laboratory diamond creators claim that their gemstones are environmentally-friendly, but this is a difficult claim to make, since natural diamonds are mined in many different ways, and there isn’t just a single process for diamond fabrication. For those looking to own a truly environmentally-friendly diamond, a recycled (vintage) one is the best way to go.

Synthetic diamonds are often advertised as ‘good’ for the environment. In fact, manufacturers claim that they’re a better choice as they don’t leave holes in the ground, pump chemicals into drinking water, or damage animal habitats – at least not directly. They do use massive amounts of electricity and chemicals though, which are sources of pollution.

How Do Natural and Synthetic Diamonds Differ in Value?

If you’re making an investment, you need to know if it’s going to continue to be worth something. You may be surprised to know that– while you may pay quite a bit for that synthetic diamond –it won’t hold its value over time. Though the resale of natural diamonds is far less than their original purchase price, synthetic diamonds’ resale value is just a drop in the bucket in comparison.

Time Will Affect Demand for Diamonds

As we head further into the 21st century, we’ve seen changes in the demand of both synthetic and natural diamonds. In 2017, recycled diamonds were a growing part of the market, while synthetic diamond demand also rose. This rise in demand can be attributed mostly to industrial uses, but they are entering the jewelry market at record rates, as well.

New natural diamonds, however, still make up the largest part of the diamond market, though second-hand diamonds are forecasted to become a sizable portion of the diamond market within the coming years. Synthetic diamonds on the other hand, will lag behind in the jewelry market while they will continue to be important in industrial markets.

Jaume Labro Goes Above and Beyond to Track Its Diamonds

conflict-free diamonds, sustainable jewelry by Jaume Labro

We’re not saying that lab-grown diamonds are “bad”, or that natural diamonds don’t have an environmental impact, but we think that every jeweler has a responsibility to guarantee each stone’s origins.

At Jaume Labro, we understand that natural diamonds have an impact on the world around them, so we trace every diamond to make sure it’s conflict-free and ethically sourced. We are socially and environmentally conscious, so you can be confident your jewelry gives back to the communities that source these raw elements.

Jaume Labro is ready to offer natural diamonds you can be proud of, view our collection today!

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