Is it actually just as a natural diamond?
And is it really true that lab-grown diamonds are better for the environment?
And what are actually the differences between natural and lab-grown diamonds, if any?
And is it worthwhile to buy lab-grown diamonds, if you don’t want to spend too much money on a diamond?
Let’s dive into these questions
First, are lab-grown diamonds, diamonds?
The quick and easy answer is YET, but there is more to it.
Natural diamonds are formed deep beneath the earth’s crust at temperatures ranging between 1100-1200 C and a pressure of 50-70 Kbar over millions of years. It is these conditions which make the diamonds so tough and durable.
A lab-grown diamond is 100% diamond. The only difference is where the diamond came from. Because the lab-grown diamonds are created in a lab with very similar conditions to the natural diamonds.
This means that the lab-grown diamonds have exactly the same chemical characteristics as the natural diamonds
Scientists started to grow diamonds in a laboratory in the mid-1950 so it is not a new invention. In the beginning, the diamonds were of very poor quality and were only used for industrial use, and also they were too small for jewellery.
The larger diamonds, of better quality, were starting to be produced in the mid 1990s and have exploded in recent years, and it is now possible to find lab-grown diamonds of any size and colour.
You can basically order pink lab-grown diamonds of a special color, and it is possible for the laboratories to make them in 5-6 weeks.
How are natural diamonds formed?
Natural diamonds, were made naturally billions of years ago, deep inside the earth, where all the substances and conditions were just correct. And they were delivered to the surface of the earth between 2-5-20 million years ago, where they are now mined.
There are 2 types of lab-grown Diamonds HPHT and CVD
HPHT which means High Pressure High Temperature, are grown in temperature and pressure conditions which are almost the same as the conditions where the natural diamonds are formed in the earth.
The process is that a diamond seed is placed in a specifically designed press, and then the chamber is heated to 1300-1500 C with huge pressure. The molten metal dissolves the high purity carbon source, and the carbon atoms precipitate on a small diamond seed crystal and synthetic diamonds begin to grow.
CVD – Chemical Vapor Deposition method involves breaking the molecules of a carbon-rich gas like methane, into carbon and hydrogen atoms, which then are deposited on a diamond seed to produce a square-shaped, tabular diamond crystal
The process is that a diamond seed is placed in a specifically designed diamond grow chamber, and the chamber is filled with a carbon-containing gas – Then the chamber is heated to about 900-1200 C, and a microwave beam causes the carbon to precipitate out of a plasma cloud and deposit onto the seed crystal.
The diamonds are removed every few days to have the top surface polished to remove any non-diamond carbon before being put back in, to grow more. Each batch of diamonds may require several stop/start cycles, and the entire growth process can take up to 3-4 weeks.
So what is the environmental impact?
A lot of people have the idea that lab-grown diamonds are so much better for the environment than natural diamonds, but is that really true?
Well, to start is true that there is being used much less water and that the carbon emission is much lower when making lab-grown diamonds compared to natural diamonds.
But there is also a huge impact on the people working in the natural diamond mining industry. In a country as Botswana almost all of the population is living from or in connection with the diamond mines. The revenue from the diamond mines are paying for the streets, school, hospitals and all other things.
As the Botswanian people say, for every diamond mined, we get a new street. And I think that is a really important aspect of the discussion about natural diamonds vs. lab-grown diamonds.
What is the price difference?
The price for a lab-grown diamond is almost ⅓ of a the price of a similar natural diamond.
BUT, the lab-grown diamonds has absolutely no resale value, and they will keep declining in price, because the production is expanding. And we expect the prices will drop to 3% of the prices of natural diamonds.
This means that if you buy a lab-grown diamond for 10.000 Euro today, in 10 years, it will be worthless, where as a natural diamond in good quality will increase in price.
What is my opinion?
So what do I think, as a gemologist, working in the jewellery industry. Well, I love diamonds, as you know, but I would never buy a lab-grown diamond. In my opinion I would just as well buy Zirconia or Swarozsky crystals, which are even cheaper, They will cost you less, and shine almost as a diamond.
But the lab-grown diamonds will never become the real thing for me. Well, I wouldn’t mind if I receive a Lab-grown diamond as a precent, but I would for sure prefere a natural.
If you are considering buying a lab-grown diamond – get a certificate
If you consider buying a lab-grown diamond, you must be sure to get a certificate, There are lots of laboratories who make certificates for lab-grown diamonds, thee most known are GIA and IGI. Here is an example on a certificate of a lab-grown diamond . As you can see, it is stated that the diamond is laboratory grown.
An Example of aIGI Lab-Grown Report