Lab grown diamonds have become a popular choice for jewelry. Many consumers have learned its benefits and the way to more naturally eliminate some of the downsides of depletion.
Now jewelers are offering lab grown diamonds, also known as synthetic or artificial diamonds, on engagement rings, necklaces, bracelets and more.
We'll cover the nine pros and cons of lab-grown diamonds so you know if it's right for you.
Advantages of lab grown diamonds
Appear identical to natural
Laboratory grown diamonds have the same physical and chemical properties as natural diamonds.
Check out as an examplethis diamond.
You can't tell if it's natural or lab-made.
The same applies toThis one here.
In fact, the first diamond is natural and the second is man-made.
While diamonds mined in the earth take millions of years to form underground, lab-grown diamonds take just a few weeks to produce.
This is the result of two processes: High Pressure High Heat (HPHT) and Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD).
HPHT subjects carbon to extreme heat and pressure. It reaches between 1,300-1,600 degrees Celsius. This mimics the conditions within the earth that naturally form diamonds.
The crystal is cut and polished by the manufacturer into the final lab grown diamond.
CVD Diamondsinvolve a "seed" diamond placed in a chamber at high temperatures. Gases such as hydrogen and methane are added. The carbon forms atomic bonds with the seed, creating a new diamond.
The result of both methods is a diamond that looks like a natural one. In fact, without special equipment, trained gemologists cannot tell the difference.
If you're concerned that someone looking at your lab-grown diamond might identify it as such, there's no need to worry.
Another benefit of lab grown diamonds is that they cost significantly less than natural ones. There are a few reasons for this.
High quality, earth grown diamonds are rare. Most found are bold in color and have prominent inclusions, allowing them to be sold at a lower price.
The mining process also involves huge costs, and they often go through many hands before reaching the final buyer.
Each buyer charges a surcharge.
Lab grown diamonds have a shorter supply chain which reduces costs.
To understand the price differences between lab grown and natural diamonds, we compared the costsJames Allen, a leading online jewelry retailer.
The round cut diamonds had the following characteristics:
- Karat weight: 0.75
- Cut: very good
- Color: F
- Clarity: SI1
The natural diamonds sell for an average of $2,500.
Lab-bred ones with the same grades sell for an average of $658.
That's a 280 percent price increase for natural versus lab grown.
As another example, we compared lab grown diamondsClean Originwith natural diamonds by James Allen. They achieved the following grades:
- Karat weight: 1.00
- Color: J
- Clarity: SI1
- Cut: ideal
For James Allen, the median price was $4,026, ranging from $3,260 to $4,380.
The lab-bred ones with the same grades averaged $1,197. The range was between $1,033 and $1,286.
As you can see from these examples, you willSave 40-60 percent by choosing a lab grown diamond.
Laboratory grown diamond jewelry is growing in popularity.
This chart shows the relative change in interest over time by people searching for lab-grown diamonds online. This interest has increased in recent years.
Since the buyers have understood its advantages, it is natural that more people are interested in it.
This is also shown by some of the largest companies in the industry who follow this market.
For example,James Allenhas listed more than 22,000 synthetic diamonds, including lab grown diamonds, to match their fine jewelry.
Blue Nilepreviously only offered natural diamonds, but now hasPartnership with Lightboxto sell lab grown diamond earrings, necklaces and bracelets.
Clean Origin, founded by industry veterans, exclusively sells this type.
Even brands with well-known names likeJared, Kay und Zaleshave come onto the market.
That means you can explore a variety of lab-grown diamonds. You can buy from some of the most well-known brands in the industry, which no longer exclusively sell natural diamonds.
Environmentally and socially conscious
Buyers are also drawn to lab-grown diamonds because they are seen as more environmentally and socially conscious.
It requires significant resources to run mining operations, which often take their toll on the environment. For example, the practice is known to cause soil erosion.
According to theWorld Diamond Council, large amounts of soil must be removed from the earth at each mine. This includes waste rock, sand and soil that accumulates in the surrounding areas.
This is preceded by the exploration process, which has its own environmental impact.
If diamond deposits are found on the seabed, the area must also be cleared to gain access to the diamonds. If it is not replaced, residents will not return.
The Council also notes that diamond mining uses multiple forms of energy: hydrocarbons and electricity. This releases carbon emissions into the air.
The industry has also gained a reputation for exploitative labor practices and its contribution to unstable politics. In recent years, policies such as the Kimberley Process, to which most celebrity jewelers adhere, have attempted to address this issue.
In addition, companies likeradiant earthhave shone a spotlight on these challenges and attempted to find a greener and more socially conscious way to sell diamonds.
Lab grown diamonds avoid many of these problems. It does not require deforestation or the construction of extensive mining operations to extract them from the ground.
They are made in high-tech labs around the world, rather than being tied to a specific location.
Disadvantages of lab grown diamonds
Minimum resale value
One of the reasons natural diamonds retain some of their value is their rarity. Each one is truly unique.
Because of this, you may be advised to buy a quality diamond to later resell at a higher price.
However, we do not recommend buying diamonds with the intention of selling them for a premium at a later date. In many cases it loses up to half of its value after purchase.
But if it's large, colorless, and has no visible inclusions, it could have more of that value over time.
Lab grown diamonds have minimal resale value as they are not rare. Companies can mass-produce them.
You are unlikely to find a jeweler willing to buy it as they could buy an identical one from another supplier.
If you resort to an online marketplace to sell it to an individual, you'll have to settle for a fraction of the cost.
Buy lab grown diamonds with the intention that they will not change hands except for the first person to wear them. You will be disappointed if you delude yourself that its value will increase over time.
Energy use and impact on local communities
Although the overall environmental impact of lab-made diamonds is reduced compared to natural diamonds, their production requires enormous amounts of energy.
In fact, a Trucost report found that greenhouse gas emissions from the production of lab-grown diamonds were, on average, three times higher than mine-grown diamonds.
That's because the machines used to make them generate tremendous amounts of heat. Power is taken from local power grids located in locations that rely on coal and natural gas.
These energy sources are considered unsustainable, hence these resources are being depleted.
For example,it was notedHowMany lab-created diamonds made with HPHT come from China. Fifty-five percent of its electricity comes from coal. In India, 75 percent of the electricity grid relies on coal.
Although lab-grown diamonds have made improvements to mitigate their environmental impact, there are some areas where the challenge remains to be resolved.
Although the industry has come under pressure because of its reputation for poor labor practices, some have also noted the economic opportunities diamond mining has offered to poorer regions.
In some areas, diamonds are a major source of economic growth.
These are lost as companies move away from setting up mining operations and instead build labs in other regions of the world.
Fewer options on the market
Although some of the most well-known jewelers have started selling artificial diamonds, there are still far fewer options on the market compared to natural diamonds.
For example.Ritanilists about 165,000 natural diamonds on their website. There are approximately 93,000 lab grown diamonds available.
That's still a huge range, but it's almost half of the burrow inventory.
You will find almost 250,000 round cut natural diamonds fromJames Allencompared to 23,000 synthetic.
This concept applies to most vendors who sell both.
Tiffany & Co., a jewelry retailer, has refused to enter the lab-grown diamond market.
The company has said it doesn't consider them a luxury product and doesn't think it matches the type of jewelry its customers buy.
And if you go to a local jewelry store, chances are they only sell natural diamonds.
Breaks engagement ring tradition
The vast majority of diamonds for engagement rings are natural.
This is evidenced by the greater selection you will find at most jewelers.
For example, when I was looking for an engagement ring for my now-wife, I spoke to a jewelry consultant. He didn't even ask if I was considering natural or synthetic.
He assumed I would go for a natural diamond, although its higher price may have been a factor that pushed me in that direction.
Many buyers don't want to break with tradition with a lab-grown diamond.
Actually Sally Morrison from LightboxcalledHer research shows that consumers want mine-cut diamonds for their engagement ring, but are happier with lab-made diamonds for everyday wear.
This is especially true for older consumers. They're not that open to breaking tradition and going with one created in a lab.
But when younger buyers opt for a tennis bracelet or necklace, they're much more open to lab-grown diamonds than they are when they're looking for a traditional engagement ring.
That's why vendors likeClean OriginGo beyond diamond rings and sell promise rings, pendants and bracelets.
But as we've discussed, those traditions aren't being maintained as strongly anymore.
With synthetic diamonds becoming more popular, it is not an anomaly for someone to mention that their engagement ring diamond was lab created.
Is a lab grown diamond right for you?
Once you understand the pros and cons of lab grown diamonds, you can make an informed decision about whether it's right for you.
Here are some tips to help you decide.
You should consider a lab grown diamond if:
- You want significant cost savings compared to a natural diamond
- They are interested in the environmental benefits of avoiding mining operations
- They don't worry that most other diamonds for engagement rings come from earth mines
By pairing them with an elegant setting, you create the perfect lab-made diamond ring.