Did you know that over 7,000 weddings took place every day during 2022? That’s a lot of wedding invitations, cake-cutting ceremonies, bouquet tosses, and perhaps most importantly of all: ring exchanges.
While wedding rings themselves aren’t traditionally made of diamonds, many engagement rings are. From rings to earrings, pendants, and beyond, diamonds have been cherished since humans first discovered them many centuries ago!
Today, natural diamonds and lab grown diamonds are virtually indistinguishable from each other. What exactly is the difference between the two? In this handy guide, we’ll explore the difference between natural vs. lab-grown diamonds.
What Are Lab Grown Diamonds?
In December of 1954, a well-known electric company called General Electric branched out from its typical research involving electric products to creating synthetic diamonds.
Lab-grown diamonds are exactly as they sound: diamonds carefully grown under the watchful eye of lab scientists. Those first diamonds created in a lab in the mid-’50s were rudimentary compared to what we see today.
These types of diamonds are equally as stunning as natural diamonds. Unless you have the trained eye of an expert to help you, lab grown diamonds look and feel exactly like their natural counterparts. The main difference between the two is how they’re made.
The Making of a Lab Grown Diamond
To make these stunning gems that mimic ones from the earth, experts use two methods: chemical vapor deposition (CVD) and high-pressure high temperature (HPHT).
During the chemical vapor deposition process, a tiny slice of diamond gets placed into a high-temperature chamber among carbon-rich gas. During this process, over an extended period of a few weeks, the carbon gas ionizes and the resulting particles stick to the diamond slice. These particles will eventually crystalize and form a diamond.
Alternately, the high-pressure high temperature method is meant to mimic more closely the earth’s natural process for creating diamonds. During this method, a tiny piece of carbon gets placed inside a capsule within a larger apparatus.
The capsule in which the carbon resides gets exposed to extremely high temperatures and an extreme amount of pressure. This heat and pressure cause the carbon to break down, eventually crystalizing into a diamond.
Depending on the method used, the shape of the diamond crystals will vary due to the growth pattern created during the process.
Lab Grown Diamond Benefits
Apart from the fact that we can create beautiful diamonds by recreating the earth’s natural processes, there are additional benefits to purchasing a lab grown diamond. Lab-grown diamonds are:
- Top quality
- More affordable
- Ethically sourced
- Guaranteed origin to acquisition
Diamonds grown in a lab are equally as dazzling as a natural diamond and cause little harm to the environment. From buyer to supplier, lab grown diamonds are an affordable option for all.
The Making of a Natural Diamond
The journey of a diamond begins deep within the earth’s surface. Much like the processes described above, natural diamonds are a result of carbon deposits subjected to extreme temperature and pressure.
Simply put, natural diamonds are made from bonded carbon atoms. Diamonds can form in four distinct areas:
- The earth’s mantle
- Subduction zones
- Asteroid impact sites
- Meteorites in space
While the thought of diamonds floating around in space might be a fun one, these particular diamonds, known as nano-diamonds, are too small for use in jewelry making.
Types of Diamonds
The two most commonly known types of diamonds are natural and lab-grown. However, these can be further classified depending on certain elements. Certain stones can be classified under more than one diamond type such as type I and type II.
These types are further broken down as:
- Type Ia
- Type IIa
- Type Ib
- Type IIb
Diamonds form with certain anomalies that are invisible to the naked eye. These anomalies affect the color and appearance of a diamond. For example, a Ia type diamond typically ranges from no color to having a slightly yellow tint to it. This is because of the large clusters of nitrogen throughout.
Conversely, type IIb diamonds contain no nitrogen but can possess a bluish tint.
The Four Considerations
From natural to man-made, the average shopper tends to assess a diamond not by any technical terms but rather via four different categories: color, clarity, carat, and cut.
From brilliant yellow to blinding white, color is typically the first thing someone notices when looking at a diamond.
While color preference in diamonds is entirely personal, some “fancy colored” diamonds are found to be more rare and more valuable than others. In fact, according to the Gemological Institute of America, only 1 of every 10,000 diamonds is classified to have a fancy color.
Some diamonds do get a color-treated treatment. These type of diamonds are typically less expensive as the color gets added artificially.
There are a few processes or treatment methods used to change the color of a diamond. One of which includes employing a thin film coating of paint. Other techniques include irradiation and heat, high-pressure, high-temperature annealing, and low-pressure, high-temperature annealing.
Diamonds will naturally have certain flaws and imperfections. To that end, there are specific tiers for describing a diamond’s clarity:
- Internally flawless
- Very, very slightly included
- Very slightly included
- Slightly included
To the average shopper, these distinguishing names sound similar. The only way to truly tell a diamond’s clarity is to have it looked at by a skilled grader.
Even to the untrained shopper, people are generally familiar with the term carat.
While many diamonds are less than one carat, a high-carat diamond can still be valued at less than lower-carat diamonds depending on quality. To that end, carat does not always equal higher value, a carat is simply the weight of a diamond.
How a diamond gets cut is subject to a grading system as well.
The grading system looks as follows:
- Very good
Diamonds that have an excellent cut and a high rating of very good or excellent tend to sell for a higher premium.
An honorable mention in terms of what people shop for when looking at diamonds is the shape of a diamond. A diamond’s overall shape varies drastically from diamond to diamond. It is typically the first thing shoppers look at when looking to purchase a piece of jewelry.
Technically, diamonds can be cut into just about any shape. However, there are a few popular ones such as:
The more unusual shapes might include anything from baguettes to half moons. When shaping a diamond, the person who creates the shape will do so to maximize the diamond‘s carat and overall value.
Types of Stones
When shopping for a special piece, not everyone gravitates toward a natural diamond or a lab-grown one. There are many different types of stones available for crafting the perfect engagement ring or pair of earrings.
From lab-grown diamond hoops to natural emerald stud earrings, here’s a short and sweet list of alternatives to the classic diamond:
Any of these gemstones get classified similarly to diamonds as natural or lab grown. However, there are considerable differences in the properties of each stone.
The Best Diamonds
A diamond may be the strongest substance yet found on our earth. However, this is not what draws people to these glittering treasures. The value of a diamond, whether lab grown or natural, comes from its weight, purity, and overall clarity.
Some diamonds are found with more nitrogen impurities than others and some take billions of years to be formed beneath the earth.
Whether lab-grown or natural, the best diamonds are the ones that hold meaning for the wearer.
Want to Know More About Lab Grown Diamonds?
Our team at Finer Jewelry is here to help! Our designers have 30 years’ worth of experience sourcing, distributing, and designing custom jewelry with the best diamonds around for all your celebratory needs.
From natural to lab grown diamonds, we offer unique custom jewelry to help enhance all of life’s most treasured moments. Whether you’re ready to pop the question or simply want to gift a stunning piece to your loved one, look no further than Finer Jewelry to help you choose the perfect piece.
For private one-on-one appointments, contact us here today. We look forward to helping you design your dream jewelry piece!