Lab Grown Diamonds – the New Wave of Diamonds?
When Meghan Markle stepped out in a pair of Lab Grown Diamond earrings in 2019, it was an indicator of the growing acceptance of a new wave of diamonds. Initially seen as a threat, the jewellery industry is now embracing lab grown. This year, Pandora’s new Brilliance collection demonstrates the investment made by the world’s biggest jewellery brand in Lab Grown Diamonds (LGDs).
Similarly, LVMH, which owns luxury brands such as Tiffany and Louis Vuitton, have also invested in a producer of LGDs. Made by science rather than mined, LGDs have the same physical, chemical, and aesthetic properties as natural diamonds. So why choose Lab Grown over mined diamonds? In this article we answer most FAQs around Lab Grown Diamonds including how they are created, their benefits and the main differences compared with naturally mined diamonds.
What is a Lab Grown Diamond?
A lab grown diamond is grown in a controlled laboratory environment. Although LGDs have been around since the 1950s, it’s only due to recent advances in technology that high-quality Lab Grown Diamonds are now made for jewellery in commercial quantities.
LGDs are also known as Engineered Diamonds, Cultured Diamonds, and Man-Made Diamonds. However, it’s incorrect to call them Synthetic Diamonds. Synthetic gemstones such as Moissanite and Cubic Zirconia have different physical properties and a different chemical composition to diamond. Therefore, although they may look like diamond, a trained eye can easily distinguish them.
Are Lab Grown Diamonds Real Diamonds?
Yes. Just like mined diamonds, Lab Grown Diamonds consist of actual carbon atoms. Also, they are similarly unique and vary in colour, clarity and cut. Moreover, they exhibit the same fire, scintillation, and sparkle as their mined counterparts. Furthermore, LGDs may contain minor inclusions just like a mined diamond.
If using a diamond tester, an LGD tests as a Diamond. This is because Lab Grown and mined diamonds share the same thermal conductivity properties.
Without specialist equipment, it’s impossible to tell an LGD from a mined diamond. Consequently, Lab Grown Diamonds have a microscopic laser mark to distinguish them from mined diamonds. Although it's impossible to see it with the naked eye, it serves to protect the consumer.
How are Lab Grown Diamonds Created?
The process of creating diamonds in a lab mimics the way natural diamonds form in the earth. In a process that takes between 1-3 billion years, immense heat, and pressure in the Earth's mantle (beneath the earth's crust) compress Carbon to form natural diamonds.
Two different processes are used to create Lab Grown Diamonds: HPHT (High Pressure and High Temperature) and CVD (Chemical Vapour Deposition).
High Pressure and High Temperature
Under HPHT, a small sliver of a mined diamond called a diamond seed is placed in a chamber and exposed to temperatures of about 1,500C and pressurised to approx. 1.5 million pounds per square inch. A carbon coating is then added. This replicates the way a diamond forms in the earth and helps the lab grown diamond to crystallise as it grows.
Chemical Vapour Deposition
CVD is the most recently developed method. It imitates the way diamonds form in interstellar gas clouds. The diamond seed is placed in a sealed chamber filled with carbon-rich gas and heated to around 800C. Under these conditions, the gases begin to “stick” to the seed, growing a diamond carbon atom by atom. CVD uses lower temperatures than HPHT and has the added advantage of using less bulky and costly equipment.
Although both processes produce real diamonds, CVD produces the most chemically pure Type IIa diamonds which occur very rarely in nature.
Are Lab Grown Diamonds Sustainable?
Mined diamonds are a finite resource. However, it takes just a matter of weeks to sustainably create an LGD.
Although the creation of LGDs uses significant amounts of energy, the use of renewable power can only add to the eco credentials of Lab Grown vs mined.
Why Choose Lab Grown Diamonds?
The two main reasons for choosing Lab Grown over mined are affordability and sustainability.
Lab Grown Diamonds allow you to maximise your budget with up to 30% more diamond weight for the same price.
Well-informed Millennials and Gen Z consumers are also leading the way in choosing Lab Grown Diamonds for their environmentally friendly credentials. Also, many see LGDs as a socially ethical choice. LGDs are traceable from lab to store. Also, they are conflict-free, reassuring the consumer that their diamond isn’t from a source that exploits local populations.
Furthermore, Lab Grown Diamonds are a modern choice. Utilising the latest technology elevates their cutting-edge status, offering an opportunity to own a size of diamond that would have been beyond reach just a few years ago.
What are the Benefits of a Lab Grown Diamond?
The main benefits of a Lab Grown Diamond are:
- Greater affordability
- Fewer defects with brighter quality and higher purity
- Socially ethical
- The possibility of creating colours rarely found in nature
How Much do Lab Grown Diamonds Cost?
As with mined diamonds, the price of a Lab Grown Diamond is determined by the 4 Cs: Cut, Clarity, Colour and Carat. However, Lab Grown Diamonds are more cost-effective than mined diamonds of comparable size and quality.
Lab Grown Diamonds vs Natural Diamonds - What are the Differences?
The main differences between Lab Grown and Natural Diamonds are their origin, cost, and emotional value.
Firstly, LGDs begin life in a laboratory whereas Natural Diamonds form deep inside the earth.
Secondly, in terms of cost, you can expect to pay around 30% less for an LGD.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, a natural diamond has an emotional attachment. In the last 30 years, there have been no significant new discoveries of diamond deposits. Therefore, natural diamonds are becoming rarer. Representing a process over a billion years in the making, natural diamonds have a unique blend of permanence and beauty which adds to the perceived value. Consequently, for many people, the perception is that natural is preferable. However, not everyone feels the same way. Lab Grown offers choice, a chance to demonstrate your individuality and an opportunity to own a gemstone formed by the latest technology.
Do Lab Grown Diamonds Last?
Yes. Since LGDs are physically and chemically the same as mined natural diamonds, they offer the same durability and immense strength. Also, there’s nothing that will dull their shine or affect their brilliance. Just as a natural diamond will last forever, so too will a Lab Grown Diamond.
What is a Lab Grown Diamond Certificate?
LGDs should always come with a Certificate which identifies them as laboratory grown. In just the same way that a mined natural diamond is graded, gemmologists use the 4 Cs to assess the quality of a Lab Grown Gemstone.
What is the Future of Lab Grown Diamonds?
As more and more jewellery designers and luxury brands are investing in Lab Grown, it’s clear they’re here to stay. Demand is growing, and in 2021, that demand exceeded supply. Indeed, the Guardian reports that the $6bn Lab Grown Diamond industry is set to double in value by 2025. There is no doubt: Lab Grown Diamonds are a game-changer. Is it time you got on board?
Lab Grown Diamonds at Wallace Allan
Wallace Allan stocks a beautiful range of Lab Grown Diamonds, all available with up to 48 months of interest-free finance. If you have any questions about LGDs, our expert team of diamond specialists is available to help you. Simply contact us or phone + (0)1292 262516.