If you’re looking to impress your loved one, a new piece of diamond jewelry might be on your shopping list. Before you rush off to the store and buy the first attractive piece you come across, it’s important to consider the source of the diamond. Diamonds that come from the earth are natural diamonds, and these are probably what you’re most familiar with.
But did you know that there’s another type of diamond out there that looks so similar, you can’t tell the difference? Lab diamonds are quickly becoming a favorite of buyers thanks to their lower cost and sustainable production methods. Educating yourself on both these types of diamonds can help you decide which choice is right for you.
How Are Natural and Lab Diamonds Created?
A natural diamond takes billions of years and very special conditions to form. All diamonds started out in the mantle, which is a level that protects us from the hot temperatures of the earth’s core. This level had so much heat and pressure that it began to modify graphite on the atomic level. As molecules of graphite switched around into a triangular pattern, they formed diamonds.
Because scientists don’t have quite that much time on their hands, they’ve created a special technique to speed things up in the production of lab diamonds. They use a high-temperature, high-pressure chamber that mimics the atmosphere that diamonds grow in underground.
After this process, the result is a diamond crystal that has the same molecular structure and composition as a naturally occurring diamond. Because the structure is exactly the same as a natural diamond, lab diamonds aren’t synthetic or knock-offs, like cubic zirconia or moissanite. They’re the real deal.
Generally, the creation process takes 6 to 10 weeks.
Are Lab Diamonds Flawless?
Since they’re created in a lab in ideal conditions, a lab diamond should be flawless, right? Not exactly. All diamonds are bound to have some inclusions that affect clarity, whether they come from the ground or the lab.
Organizations like the GIA and AGS use slightly different clarity and color scales when it comes to ranking lab diamonds. Because of this, the only clarity rankings for lab diamonds are I, SI, VS, and VVS. The main inclusions they face are metallic in nature and a remnant of the molten metal solution used to create them.
Natural diamonds can suffer many different inclusions during their billion-year history. Being underground for so long exposes them to a lot of different elements. They might develop pinpoints, feathers, crystals, clouds, and more as a result of their environment.
Are Lab Diamonds Colored?
Most lab diamonds are ranked in the D-E-F or G-H-I range when it comes to color. D-E-F means it is colorless, while the G-H-I range is near colorless. Generally, it’s quite rare for a lab to create a stone in the D-E-F range, meaning that it will also be more expensive.
This is because lab-grown diamonds are grown in a controlled environment and don’t have a chance to be contaminated by other substances. The only issue they face is sometimes having a lack of nitrogen, which turns them a brown color. Luckily, scientists can correct this with a separate treatment process to make them more transparent.
On the other hand, natural diamonds are exposed to a number of different impurities as they grow. Even trace amounts of chemicals can cause white, pink, blue, and yellow varieties. This is why natural diamonds have a much larger color scale ranking.
What Size and Shape Are Lab Diamonds?
Perhaps the most exciting thing about lab diamonds is that they can be grown and cut into any shape or size you desire. Whether you’re searching for a classic round lab diamond or a lab diamond cut in a cushion, oval, emerald, asscher, radiant, or princess pattern, it’s all possible. You can choose any setting you desire, as well.
As for the maximum size possible, the biggest lab diamonds are about 20 carats. That doesn’t quite compare to size of natural diamonds, which can be over 400 carats. However, it’s plenty big enough for simple rings, necklaces, bracelets, and more.
Keep in mind that natural diamonds can also be cut into any shape or size you desire once they are harvested.
Should I Choose a “Real” or Lab Diamond this Holiday?
Ultimately, the choice of either a “real” diamond or a lab diamond is up to you. Luckily, whichever choice you make won’t be a bad one. Both types of gem are beautiful, durable, and lifelong keepsakes.
While they once started out as a fad only the environmentally cautious and scientifically minded appreciated, lab diamonds are now a widespread trend that’s sweeping the jewelry market. They allow you to get bigger, more exciting pieces for the same price as a much smaller natural stone.
However, a diamond that’s been created in a lab can’t really match up with the mystique and palpable feel of having a gem that’s spent billion of years forming under the surface of the earth.
Our goal is to help you make your decision, whatever that may be. We’ll help you realize your goals in a custom piece that’s perfect for your loved one. Whether you’re on the prowl for bracelets, earrings, necklaces, or that sparkling engagement ring, we want you to be confident in your choice, whatever it is.