Natural Diamonds vs Lab-Grown
With lab-grown Diamonds getting so much publicity lately, are they the future, or should you stick to naturally mined Diamonds instead?
Naturally mined Diamonds are formed over millions of years as a result of intense heat and pressure, which causes carbon atoms to crystallise and turn into Diamonds.
Lab-made Diamonds are grown from carbon, just like natural Diamonds. But the difference is they are created in a lab at a much faster process (typically 2 – 3 weeks).
So, how do you tell them apart?
If you were to break a natural Diamond in half, you would be able to see thousands of layers, much like the annual growth rings of a tree, while a lab-created Diamond lacks these layers. But don’t try that at home. Diamonds are unbreakable, and you would not want to break them anyway.
Luckily, there is an easier way to tell whether you are buying a natural or lab-made Diamond. Almost all loose Diamonds and Diamond jewellery, including rings, earrings, pendants and bracelets, come with an independent certificate from trusted Gemological laboratories such as the GIA or GIE. These gem grading labs have laser testing methods that can identify lab-grown Diamonds from naturally mined ones, and this information is specified on the grading report.
Should you Buy a Natural Diamond or a Lab-Created One?
We have looked into all the pros and cons, and this is our analysis.
Rarity and Uniqueness
The rarity is the most crucial consideration when buying Diamond jewellery, especially when it’s a gift for a loved one.
The supply of naturally mined Diamonds is limited, which makes them rare and unique. On the other hand, lab Diamonds have been produced at a faster rate than they can be sold; therefore, they are not considered rare.
Ethicality and Sustainability
Thanks to the Kimberley Process, which has been in place since 2003, conflict Diamonds are luckily a thing of the past. A Kimberly Certificate is needed to import or export all Diamonds. So as long as it’s purchased legally, a naturally mined Diamond is entirely conflict-free and ethical, just like a lab-made one.
What about the argument that lab-grown Diamonds are better for the environment?
The process of growing lab Diamonds involves reaching a temperature of between 800 – 1600 °C (1470 – 2900 °F). The energy used to accomplish such high temperatures comes from burning fossil and other non-renewable fuels. According to a report commissioned by the Diamond Producers Association, growing lab Diamonds can release up to three times more greenhouse gases than mining the equivalent carat weight of natural Diamonds.
Cost and Future Value
A lab-grown Diamond is up to 75% cheaper than an identical naturally mined Diamond at the time of writing. I say at the time of writing, as these prices are dropping at an alarming rate. Only a few years ago, lab-grown Diamonds were around 20% lower in price. The reason? The more machines there are, the more advanced the technology becomes, the cheaper it will be to grow lab-made Diamonds, and the less rare they will be.
Because of the limited supply, natural Diamonds will hold their value significantly better than lab-created ones with an unlimited supply. It’s simply the law of supply and demand.
Okay, I hear you say, but I am buying it as a gift, so I am not considering the resale value.
That would be a good argument from your side, but then you are not taking into account how the recipient might feel. In the many years I have been in the jewellery trade, I have learnt what makes Diamonds so special as a gift and why people love receiving them. It’s not just the beauty, because if it was, you could buy a Zirconium or Moissanite stone that is white and clear and costs a fraction of the price.
The primary reason Diamond jewellery is received so well is that it makes your partner feel valued and special. And it is not just about the fact that they are getting a precious stone. The effort and sacrifice that went into purchasing this once-in-a-lifetime gift are vital factors. You are essentially showing your partner how much they mean to you when you present them with a Diamond ring, pendant, or a pair of Diamond Studs.
Considering all the above, ask yourself what type of Diamond would have more meaning.
Still, the argument could be, ‘My partner wants a 1 carat, and I am a couple of grand short of making her dream come true, so my only alternative is a lab-made Diamond.’ That is where clarity-enhanced Diamonds come in.
Clarity Enhanced Natural Diamonds
Clarity Enhanced Diamonds are naturally mined Diamonds that had some of their tiny natural flaws treated. During the clarity enhancement process, a microscopic amount of material is inserted into the Diamond, making the flaws much less visible to the naked eye. The light can then pass through the Diamond, making it appear cleaner and sparklier.
The advantage is you can get a 2-carat Diamond for the price of a non-enhanced 1-carat Diamond, and just like non-enhanced Diamonds, they are rare and hold their value.
Wait a minute, Mister DJU. I found a website online stating that the treatment does not last and that the Diamond becomes discoloured over time.
To that, we will say the following.
That information was accurate once upon a time, but it has not been the case since 2005. Before then, Bromine resin was used by many labs to treat Diamonds. Unfortunately, that type of resin was not stable, and some treated Diamonds would indeed discolour over time. However, since 2005, laboratories have perfected the material used for the treatment, and unless it’s exposed to 540 °C (1000 °F), your clarity-enhanced Diamond will be safe. You can wear it and look after it the same way as any other Diamond. If you still have doubts, all our jewellery comes with a lifetime warranty for the durability of the Diamond.
Just one more thing, you might say. My jeweller told me that I should ONLY buy non-enhanced Diamonds.
In that case, I would advise you to consider the above and see if your jeweller only sells non-enhanced Diamonds. As clarity-enhanced Diamonds might present a threat to their business, they are not likely to promote them.
Another reason your jeweller might not sell them is the low price. We are also wholesalers, so we know that most jewellers only sell around 4 – 5 Diamond engagement rings per month. As they are usually based on the high street, their expenses are much higher, and they are likely to work on a 400 – 500% markup. So now you can work out whether they would rather sell a non-enhanced Diamond for 5k or an enhanced Diamond for 1.3k to make the most profit.
Retail jewellers in the US have already given up this battle. As a result, almost half of the Diamonds sold in the USA have been treated.
We are not saying enhanced Diamonds are better than non-enhanced ones or vice versa. However, if you only have 1.5 k to spend and would rather have a 1-carat Diamond than a 0.3-carat Diamond, then clarity enhanced is the way to go.
That is the very philosophy behind Diamond Jewelry United. We want to offer our customers natural Diamonds with carat weight they did not think was possible with their budget.