A Guide to Lab-Grown Diamonds

Jewellery quality Natural Diamonds can be cost prohibitive for couples on a budget. Lab-Grown Diamonds are up to 60% less expensive than Natural/ Mined Diamonds of the same quality, and are an excellent alternative for couples looking to make a environmentally friendly purchase without sacrificing tradition or beauty.

What is a lab-grown diamond? 

The simple answer is that advanced technology allows scientists to mimic the exact conditions beneath the earth's crust where diamonds form, to create diamonds that are nearly identical to what you would find in nature. 

There are two ways to create a lab-grown diamond: The first is the High Temperature, High Pressure or HTHP method, which involves large presses that can weigh hundreds of tons to produce extremely high pressure at extremely high temperatures (think: a pressure cooker on steroids) that turn a diamond seed, or a very small part of a real diamond, into a fully-formed, lab-grown diamond. 

The second way to create a lab-grown diamond is through the use of Chemical Vapor Deposition, or CVD, where a diamond is grown from a hydrocarbon gas mixture. A huge plus to these two methods: While natural diamonds can take around 3.3 billion years to form and then must be extracted from deep in the earth, a lab-grown diamond can be created in as little as two weeks. Once created, jewelers cut and polish lab-grown diamonds as they would with a natural diamond.

Source: De Beers

Lab-Grown vs. Natural Diamonds

Although they are man-made stones, lab-grown diamonds are real diamonds. While they are created by scientists and not mined from the earth, lab-grown diamonds are physically, chemically and optically the same as mined diamonds. Both lab-grown diamond and natural diamond are made from pure, crystallized carbon. The only chemical difference between a lab-grown diamond a natural diamond is that most natural diamonds contain tiny amounts of nitrogen, and lab-grown diamonds do not. Gemologists can test for the presence of nitrogen, which can usually indicate whether or not a stone was found in nature. Another option: Larger labs have access to expensive machinery specially designed to distinguish between lab-grown diamonds and mined diamonds by testing a stone's fluorescence. These machines expose the diamond to special light waves that cause it to fluoresce (or glow). Lab-grown diamonds tend to fluoresce much more brightly than mined diamonds do. Below is an example of a Diamond certificate for a Lab-Grown diamond;

Are lab-grown diamonds eco-friendly?

Reports show that the lab-grown diamond creation processes still leave a carbon footprint, as with any process that uses a lot of energy. While the diamond industry is committed to ethically-sourced gemstones, lab-created diamonds ensure a conflict-free production process. And, as lab-grown diamonds become more mainstream, celebrities like Bindi Irwin, Lady Gaga and Emma Watson are starting to wear the trending jewels on and off the red carpet.  

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