In the world of fine jewellery, diamonds have long been cherished for their brilliance and eternal symbolism. With the introduction of lab-grown diamonds, consumers now have more options than ever to choose from. This decision can seem a little daunting when choosing between a natural or lab-grown diamond, so in this blog we’ll be exploring the main differences between each option to help you make an informed decision that best suits your unique preferences.
What is a natural diamond?
Natural diamonds are carbon-based structures that are formed over millions of years in the earth’s crust, under specific temperature and pressure conditions. Once mined, these diamonds are faceted into the well-known shapes (round brilliant, oval, emerald, etc.) that we have come to know and love. The unique crystal lattice structure of diamonds not only gives them their fire and brilliance, but is also why they are one of the hardest materials on earth (10 on the Mohs hardness scale) making them perfect for every day wear and therefore especially suitable for engagement rings.
What is a lab-grown diamond?
Similar to natural diamonds, lab-grown diamonds posses a carbon crystal lattice structure and are also rated as a 10 on the Mohs hardness scale. However, while natural diamonds are formed naturally over millions of years in the earth, lab-grown diamonds are man-made (laboratory-grown) stones that are grown in highly controlled temperature and pressure conditions that mimic the natural formation of natural diamonds, in a far shorter period of time (weeks instead of millions of years). Since lab-grown diamonds are made in similar conditions to natural diamonds, they possess identical optical and chemical properties and therefore look exactly the same as natural diamonds, to the naked eye.
So what’s the difference between the two?
The allure of natural diamonds lies in their exquisite geological formation, occurring over millions of years. Their formation process imbues them with a sense of rareness and timelessness, making them coveted for their exceptional origins.
Lab-grown diamonds, crafted through innovative technology, are created in controlled environments that replicate the natural diamond-forming process. This means that they do not share the same geological heritage as natural diamonds. Additionally, the process in which they are made makes them more readily available and accessible than natural diamonds, which is one of the main factors contributing to their more affordable price point and sustainable sourcing.
How are they similar?
lab-grown diamonds possess identical physical and chemical properties as natural diamonds. As a result, when comparing a natural diamond to a lab-grown diamond side by side, it is near impossible to tell the difference with the naked eye alone. The only way to determine if a diamond is natural or lab grown is through specialised diamond testing. This means that a lab-grown diamond will look exactly the same as a natural diamond when set in your jewellery, and will exhibit the same fire, brilliance and colour for a fraction of the price.
It is essential to acknowledge that the diamond mining industry has made significant progress in adopting sustainable practices and minimizing its environmental impact. Responsible mining initiatives have been put in place to protect local ecosystems, reduce water consumption, and ensure proper land restoration. Moreover, many diamond mining companies actively support community development and social welfare projects in the regions they operate.
Lab-grown diamonds have gained attention for their reduced environmental impact. The controlled production process consumes fewer natural resources, emits fewer carbon emissions, and eliminates the need for large-scale mining operations. Choosing lab-grown diamonds can align with sustainability values and contribute to a greener future.
Ethics and Social Responsibility
The diamond industry has worked diligently to address ethical challenges. The Kimberley Process, established in 2003, is a global certification system designed to prevent the trade of conflict diamonds and promote ethical practices. By purchasing diamonds with certifications from reputable sources, consumers can support responsible sourcing and social responsibility initiatives.
Lab-grown diamonds are inherently conflict-free, as their creation process takes place in controlled laboratories. For those seeking more ethical origins, lab-grown diamonds offer peace of mind, knowing that they are free from any association with unethical practices or human rights violations.
Pricing and Affordability
The rarity and timelessness of natural diamonds often result in premium pricing. Prices can vary significantly based on various factors, such as carat weight, cut, colour, and clarity. While natural diamonds hold significant sentimental and investment value, they may require a higher budget.
Lab-grown diamonds offer a more budget-friendly option without compromising on quality or aesthetics. Their controlled production process allows for consistent pricing and broader accessibility, making them an attractive choice for those seeking exquisite diamonds within a more affordable range.
When considering natural diamonds vs. lab-grown diamonds, it is essential to weigh the benefits and advantages that align with your personal values and preferences. Natural diamonds boast exceptional geological heritage and a sense of timeless rarity, while lab-grown diamonds shine brightly with their eco-friendliness and ethical consciousness. Whichever choice you make, both types of diamonds carry their unique allure and elegance, allowing you to wear a sparkling piece of history or a brilliant symbol of a sustainable future.