Last updated on October 9, 2020
Unfortunately, the diamond industry suffers from a lot of misinformation both from inside the trade and outside observers, not to mention social media full of misguiding posts. Should you buy mined diamonds if there is a chance to pick a conflict stone? Or should you buy lab-grown diamonds instead? We are here to help you to make an informed and logical purchase.
Are Lab-Grown Diamonds As Good As Natural Ones?
There is no secret that a lot of people get confused when hearing the term “lab-grown diamond”. The reason for this is simple. There are many different industry terms such as synthetic, man-made or created diamonds, used to describe lab-grown diamonds and not everyone uses these terms in the same way.
Natural diamond sellers market their stones as the only worthwhile thing to buy, while lab-grown diamond creators never miss the moment to highlight the ethical source of their product and give the impression that all mined diamonds are conflict stones.
Synthetic – understanding this term correctly unlocks the entire question. Synthetic can mean man-made, lab-grown, artificial and even fake. But in the context of diamonds synthetic is a technical term.
Technically speaking, synthetic diamonds are man-made gemstones with the same crystal structure and chemical composition as the natural ones.
There are two techniques to grow diamond crystals. The first and the oldest one is the High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) method. This technique starts with a seed of diamond material and grows a full diamond just like nature does.
The newest way to grow diamonds is the Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) method during which a chamber is filled with a carbon-rich vapour. Carbon atoms get extracted from the gas and deposited on a wafer of diamond crystal and the gemstone grows layer by layer.
Both of these processes are highly advanced complex technologies that produce lab-grown diamonds with the same chemical structure and optical properties as natural mined diamonds.
Synthetic diamonds look just like the natural gemstone, sparkle the same and have the same hardness. The only difference between a lab-grown and a natural diamond is the way they were made.
Benefits of Lab-Grown Diamonds
The first and the most cited benefit of synthetic diamonds is their environmental sustainability. Although this issue has not been fully studied yet, it is generally accepted that growing diamonds takes less energy than it does to mine them of the ground.
While the energy consumption is still in question, the fact that there is no need to displace tons of earth to grow a synthetic diamond is beyond doubt.
When purchasing a synthetic diamond you know the origin of your stone. While the official amount of blood or conflict diamonds is about 1% of all stones worldwide, the issue is very prominent in many buyers minds. Lab-grown diamonds are always conflict-free, there is no chance to buy a man-made diamond and fuel armed conflicts or child labour in any way.
The price is probably the most appealing feature of lab-grown diamonds. In most cases, when buying a created diamond you can save up to 40% over a natural diamond. The savings go way up if you purchase a fancy colour diamond as natural colour diamonds are extremely rare and expensive as a result.
And the last but not least lab-grown diamonds are new and exciting. Although man-made diamonds have been around decades, they have only recently reached a level of quality and size that is comparable with natural counterparts.
Why Not to Buy Lab-Grown Diamonds
While we are used to hearing about the environmental sustainability of lab-grown diamonds, it is important to understand that buying recycled natural diamonds limits the environmental impact as well. It’s not really a con of lab-grown diamonds, but once a natural diamond has been mined and cut, it can pass through generations.
Due to the misinformation we talked about earlier, many people might not understand what a synthetic diamond is. Of course, you don’t have to tell others your diamond is lab-grown, but people might think you have bought a cheap diamond simulant instead of the real thing.
Lab-grown diamonds support advanced economies, but it is also important to acknowledge that they take jobs away from developing economies. Oftentimes, diamond mines are the only source to help elevate many people out of poverty.
Another important feature to understand is that lab-grown diamonds are not unique. While each mined diamond is one-of-a-kind work of nature’s art, lab-grown diamonds are mass-produced gemstones and do not have the mystery a natural diamond has.
Should you buy lab-grown diamonds? Many people will tell you that buying a natural diamond is unethical or morally wrong and vice versa. The decision is up to you. Just don’t let yourself be pressured into buying a diamond you don’t love.