You may have been reading about lab-grown diamonds. The decision to purchase one over a natural diamond is an important one. Because whether or not they are chemically the same, there are differences. There are also several misconceptions about lab-grown diamond engagement rings, which is why we want to provide the facts so you have a clear understanding! Here are a few of the most important questions and answers you should know.
Q. Are lab-grown diamonds “fake”?
Some people may refer to lab created diamonds as “fake diamonds”, imitations, or simulants, but this is incorrect. Lab-created diamonds share the same or similar chemical and physical properties as a natural diamond produced by the geological processes of Mother Nature. However, because of the contrasting conditions of natural and lab-grown formation, lab-grown diamond engagement rings display several features which allow them to be distinguished from natural diamonds.
Q. If they share the same characteristics, what makes them different?
Let’s start from the beginning to understand how diamonds and lab-grown diamonds are created. An organic, natural diamond forms when pure carbon undergoes intense temperature and pressure over billions of years within the Earth’s mantle. It only forms in the “diamond stability zone”, 80 to 120 miles deep, and extremely hot (up to 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit), where the conditions are just right. Then, over eons of violent volcanic eruptions, diamonds get brought to the surface embedded in large chunks of rock. A natural diamond is the oldest thing you will ever own. It takes billions of years in the making! A natural diamond is rare. Especially since there have been no discoveries of natural diamonds in approximately 30 years.
Lab-created diamonds, on the other hand, are grown in highly-controlled laboratory conditions that reproduce the Earth’s natural growing environment: high pressure and high temperature. Yes, they have essentially the same chemical composition, crystal structure, and optical and physical properties of diamonds found in nature. They aren’t technically “synthetic diamonds” since their chemical composition is that of naturally occurring diamonds; and they can exhibit fire, scintillation, and sparkle as organic diamonds but do include specific, identifiable internal characteristics. However, they are not considered rare since they can be endlessly replicated.
Q. Are lab-grown diamonds identical to natural diamonds?
The answer to that is, no. They are not identical. Their origin is the primary difference. They are mass-produced in factories located primarily in China, India, and Singapore in industrial microwave reactors. Their artificial production process occurs in just 2 weeks and there are tell-tale marks within the diamond which enables a professional (like us) to easily detect them.
Q. Are lab-grown diamonds more eco-friendly?
This is a question we hear a lot. The long and the short of it is probably not. Natural diamonds produce 3x fewer carbon emissions per carat than lab-grown diamonds. And, natural diamond producers recycle on average 83% of the water used in diamond recovery. Lab-grown diamonds require an immense amount of energy to produce and replicate the process in a few short weeks as well as significant water usage to cool the reactors. Lab-grown diamond eco-friendly claims are somewhat unsubstantiated and they have been warned by the FTC to not make such claims.
Q. Are lab-grown diamonds more socially conscious than natural diamonds?
Again, the answer to that is probably no. What most people don’t know or understand is that the natural diamond industry supports the livelihood of 10 million people. They create 16 billion dollars of benefits annually for employees and communities and 80% of that money is retained by local communities. The wealth accumulated from the sale of a lab-grown diamond typically benefits a few select investors and businesspeople who have yet to demonstrate their social contributions.
Q. What is the value proposition for each?
Natural diamonds obtain their value because of their rarity. In the last 35 years they have appreciated by 3% on average. Also, if you purchase a natural diamond at Schmitt Jewelers and want to trade it in toward a larger diamond, we will credit you the original price toward your new diamond. Lab-grown diamonds are sold at a cost of somewhere between 20-30% less than a natural diamond. However, their prices have dropped significantly over the last few years by as much as 50%. Because they are not rare, they will not hold their value. Therefore, they have little or no resale value. That’s important to understand. If you decide to purchase a lab-grown diamond, you will not be able to trade it in and receive that value toward the purchase of another larger diamond.
We at Schmitt Jewelers prefer natural diamonds to lab-grown diamonds, but understand that may not be your preference. Schmitt Jewelers wants you to have the right information to make an informed decision about your diamond choice. To reiterate, lab-grown diamonds are not fake and have the same chemical properties as a natural diamond. If you are interested in one, we can easily bring a few lab-created diamonds into the store for you to look at and compare.
It is a personal choice. And yes, it will typically be less in cost. But, it’s important to understand the differences!
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information! And again, if you are interested in seeing or purchasing a lab-grown diamond engagement ring, we are happy to help!
Find out more about lab-grown diamonds.
Find out more about natural diamonds.