Natural and Lab-Grown Diamonds
Have you been considering a lab-grown diamond for your engagement ring? If you’re on the fence or confused about the options, we want to make sure you understand the pros and cons for both lab-grown and natural diamonds before completing your purchase. Are lab-grown diamonds really better for the environment, more ethically sourced, and easier on your budget? Let’s explore the history, current reality, and possible future of both options so that you can make an informed decision.
What is a natural diamond?
A natural diamond is made mostly of carbon and is created through extreme heat and pressure about 100 miles below the earth’s surface. Volcanic activity then brought the diamonds closer to the surface of the earth where they are mined. Each natural diamond is unique like a snowflake or a fingerprint and they vary in color and clarity.
What is a lab-grown diamond?
A lab-grown diamond is a man-made product that shares the chemical, optical, and physical properties of natural diamonds. The first lab-grown diamonds were actually produced in 1954 but it’s taken many years for companies to perfect the process in a way that allows them to mass produce diamonds affordably. A lab-grown diamond is produced in a factory through a process that replicates the heat and pressure inside the earth to create a diamond in less than three weeks.
What is the difference between a lab-grown diamond and a natural diamond?
While they look very similar and share the same chemical make up, there are differences between natural and lab-grown diamonds. The rapid process used to create lab-grown diamonds leaves marks inside the stone that are invisible to the naked eye but can be detected by experts using proper tools.
Why does the price of lab-grown vs. natural diamonds differ?
You’ve probably heard of the concept of supply and demand. When demand is high and supply is low, you can expect a product to cost more. However, when demand is low and supply is high, you’ll see the price of a product drop. The number of gem quality, natural diamonds on earth is finite and natural diamonds derive their value from this scarcity. However, lab-grown diamonds continue to be produced daily and therefore their value is based on the cost of production. As technology improves, the price of production will go down, the supply will go up, and the price of lab-grown diamonds will continue to drop. For this reason, we are unable to offer our Lifetime Upgrade service for lab-grown diamonds. If you feel confident that you’ll never need to sell or upgrade your diamond, lab-grown might be a great choice for you!
Are lab-grown diamonds a better choice for the environment?
Lab-grown diamonds are often marketed as a more sustainable option for anyone concerned about the environmental impact of mining. While the natural diamond industry has certainly contributed to environmental concerns in the past, they have made great strides in recent years to improve biodiversity and conservation in the most heavily mined areas, reduce CO2 emissions, and recycle water used in the mining process. It is also important to note that lab-grown diamonds are not without environmental impact. The factories that produce lab-grown diamonds require massive amounts of electricity to create the environment necessary to produce their product as well as large amounts of water to cool the reactors. Furthermore, 55% of lab-grown diamonds are produced in countries that rely heavily on coal.
Are lab-grown diamonds a more ethical choice than natural diamonds?
The movieBlood Diamond which was set in the 1990’s has motivated many people to seek out alternative options to natural diamonds. However, through the UN-mandated Kimberley Process, conflict diamonds have been virtually eliminated from circulation and the natural diamond industry has spent twenty years reforming and refining the way it operates within strict human rights frameworks and labor regulations. The natural diamond industry supports the livelihood of over 10 million people worldwide and the industry now supplies over $16 billion in employee benefits annually with over 80% of those benefits staying within the local mining communities. In contrast, the majority of the wealth generated by lab-grown diamond companies tends to stay with a few large investors in each company.