What's the Deal with Lab Diamonds?

You may have heard about laboratory grown diamonds in the news recently. But what are they? How do they compare to natural mined diamonds? And should you be considering buying one?

Put simply, a diamond grown in a laboratory is technically identical to one mined from the ground. They are the same chemical composition, structure, and hardness, and even display the same variety in color and clarity. Because they cannot be distinguished from mined diamonds in any other way without intensive testing, laboratory grown diamonds are always laser inscribed on the girdle (the edge) with "LG" and an identification number.

lab grown diamond girdle laser inscription close up magnification

Beware stones marketed as 'created diamonds' or other related terminology if they are being sold for extremely low prices. Legitimate laboratory grown diamonds, while less expensive than mined diamonds, still tend to be priced at about 50-70% of the price of the latter. Still, this means if you don't mind having a laboratory diamond, you can save as much as 50% by choosing one.

The key to ensuring you are buying a diamond and not a coated cubic zirconia or other substitute is to choose a trusted dealer. Going to the same jeweler you would purchase a mined diamond from is a good start. They should be able to show you the certificate alongside the laboratory grown diamond. Labs that grade these stones include IGI and GCAL.

The certificate will have basically the same information you would find on a grading report for a mined diamond, except that it will also identify the diamond as laboratory grown. It will include measurements as well as the clarity and color grades and the carat weight. Unlike laboratory created sapphires, which tend to be more ideal than most mined stones, laboratory grown diamonds have similar ranges of color and clarity to their mined counterparts. They are cut in all of the common diamond cuts, including princess, emerald, pear, and so on. Currently, stones in the whiter and clearer grades are similarly rare as they are in mined diamonds, but they do exist. Shop for your laboratory diamond with the same criteria in mind that you would have for a mined diamond.

Laboratory diamonds are also being created in fancy colors, such as yellow, blue, and pink. These may be harder to find, so you will have a smaller range of options to choose from than if you were shopping for a natural fancy diamond.

diamonds, fancy color, fancy cut
diamonds, fancy color, fancy cut

The main difference between a lab diamond and mined one, aside from price, is the conditions under which each was formed. Natural diamonds were created millions of years ago under immense heat and pressure deep underground, which cannot be duplicated on our planet currently.

Lab diamonds start with a tiny piece of natural diamond. They undergo a process called CVD, or chemical vapor deposition. This builds up the diamond crystal over the course of hundreds of hours. It is then able to be cut and faceted much like a mined diamond. The difference is only apparent at a molecular level.

If you find a piece you like but would prefer a lab diamond, let us know and we will be happy to send you a quote.

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