Shopping for an engagement ring, wedding band or everyday diamonds, can be expensive, stressful and can offer a whole lot of uncertainty because let’s face it, you’re no gemologist. You will have a million and one questions to ask and that’s okay. The average person doesn’t know much about diamonds. One of the most pressing questions you will face is whether to purchase a naturally sourced diamond or purchase a lab grown diamond. Don’t panic, we’re here to break it down for you, in terms that you and your bride will most definitely understand.
So, what’s the big deal? Is there a difference between lab grown vs natural diamonds? Of course, there is. But how can you tell? Decades of research and technological advancements now make this tall task much easier and the system is improving every day.
1. How natural diamonds are formed:
Diamonds have been around for almost as long as Mother Earth has. A naturally sourced diamond forms deep under earth’s surface over billions of years. The diamond itself is formed due to extreme pressure and high temperatures. It is then brought to the surface through volcanic eruption and sits in a volcanic rock formation, known as “kimberlite pipes.” The diamond then patiently awaits to be mined by professional mining engineers. Mining engineering, according to Wikipedia, is an engineering discipline that applies science and technology to the extraction of minerals from the earth.
2. What a diamond’s material consists of:
Okay, so we know how diamonds form but what is inside of a real, naturally sourced diamond? According to the FTC (federal trade commission), a diamond’s material consists of pure carbon crystallized in the isometric cubic system. Most diamonds, however, aren’t 100% pure carbon. They often consist of other materials such as nitrogen and inclusions, small pieces of foreign objects that have been cemented into the still-forming diamond, billions of years ago. That is the simplest way to explain how diamonds are formed and what materials it consists of.
3. How lab grown diamonds are made:
Now, for its #1 competition, we will explore how lab-grown diamonds are made and how they differ from naturally sourced diamonds. It’s 2019 and technology is making new strides every single day. It’s no surprise that we have discovered a way to virtually copy a natural diamond, inside a laboratory. This practice starting back in the 1950s but wasn’t available on the market until as recent as the early 2010s, almost 60 years after the practice was first introduced. According to GIA Distinguished Research Fellow, Dr James Shigley, there are two methods used when making lab-grown diamonds.
The first method basically mocks how diamonds are made deep underneath earth’s crust, using high pressure and high temperature. This method is known as HTHP. The second method known as chemical vapor deposition or CVD involves “breaking down the molecules of a carbon-rich gas, such as methane, into carbon and hydrogen atoms, which then are deposited on diamond seeds to produce a square-shaped, tabular diamond crystal” according to the official GIA educational website.
Lab-grown diamonds can take a month or so to make, compared to a naturally sourced diamond that took billions of years to form, deep under earth’s surface. This fact alone, appeals to the buyer (you), because they typically find the natural process much more unique, therefore willing to spend more money on it. Another big difference is that naturally sourced diamonds are expected to increase in value over time, whereas lab grown diamonds are expected to decrease in value over time. If you’re considering selling your diamond in the future (let’s hope not but with the average divorce rate in America, it’s a possibility) the naturally sourced diamond will be worth much more.
4. How to tell the difference between naturally sourced and lab grown diamonds
So how can you tell the difference? To the naked eye, and even outdated technology, the difference is non-existent. Lab grown diamonds are made up of the same chemicals, making it very hard to tell the difference. The GIA has implemented new technology, educational seminars and more, in order to keep the gem-buying public constantly informed. The big difference, according to Dr. Shigley, is that lab-grown diamonds have different growth morphology which is basically the difference between how earth shapes the diamond versus how the lab will shape the diamond.
Research is constantly being conducted by the GIA and new methods to tell the difference are emerging daily. This information is important now more than ever because the GIA is updating their guidelines as of July 2019. These new guidelines will make it easier for the consumer to know if their diamond is naturally sourced or lab grown.
5. Difference in price and rarity
In a new era where technology has completely taken over, you can see why the price of a naturally sourced diamond is much higher than its counterpart; lab grown diamonds. Everything, nowadays, can be copied and reproduced. We’re living in a virtual reality. Real diamonds connect us to mother earth because of its rarity and geological origin. Think of it like this, would you rather eat GMO or organic foods? The answer is easy, but the price difference is obviously a factor.
6. So why should I buy one or the other?
If you can afford a real, naturally sourced diamond then definitely take that route. If money is an issue and your bride isn’t concerned over the rarity of the diamond, purchasing a lab grown diamond works just the same. Remember, the difference isn’t obvious to the naked eye or even a professionals naked eye.
At the end of the day, it isn’t about the diamond. It was never about the diamond. It’s about what the diamond represents. A diamond turned into an engagement ring, wedding band or another piece of jewelry, represents love, commitment, accomplishment and so much more. A diamond represents growth, stability and a bright path to your future. The most important thing you can do is to stay educated on the constantly evolving techniques and methods used by the GIA.