When it comes to choosing your diamond, is one truly better than the other?
Gleaming, elegant, romantic – but is the diamond you’re looking at Lab Grown or Natural? And does it matter? Today, we answer all your questions about Lab Grown and Natural Diamonds.
Are Lab Grown Diamonds Real Diamonds?
Yes, very much so. Lab Grown Diamonds are visually, chemically, and physically identical to Natural Diamonds. The differences between the two are so subtle, they can only be detected by trained gemologists and specialised equipment.
Diamonds form when carbon is compressed under immense pressure and high temperature. This occurs below the earth’s crust, or within a lab, but at the end of the day, both Lab Grown and Natural Diamonds are crystallised carbon. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) themselves declared that a diamond is a diamond, whether grown in a lab or mined from the ground.
The Four C’s – Cut, Colour, Clarity and Carat
When it comes to grading diamonds against the 4Cs, the GIA (Gemological Institution of America) and IGI (International Gemological Institute), use the same methods and standards to grade Lab Grown and Natural Diamonds. This means that these standard-defining agencies see no difference between Lab Grown and Natural Diamonds across Cut, Colour, Clarity, and Carat, allowing each stone to be graded upon its individual and unique characteristics.
So how do Lab Grown and Natural Diamonds differ?
The Difference between Lab Grown and Natural Diamonds
How are Natural Diamonds Sourced?
Natural Diamonds formed millions of years ago in areas that experienced volcanic activity. There are mines in Australia, South Africa, Russia, Botswana, India, Brazil and the USA.
How Do You Ensure A Diamond Is Ethical and Conflict-Free?
Established in 2003, the Kimberley Process is an international certification scheme that regulates the rough diamond trade and aims to prevent the flow of conflict diamonds.
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) outlines the rules that govern ethical trade. Diamondport Jewellers is proud to only trade with organisations who are signatories to the Kimberley Process. We work only with ethical providers to hand-select high-quality, ethical diamonds.
Are all Diamonds Ethically Sourced?
Yes and no. There are two primary ways diamonds are sourced; Pipe Mining and Alluvial Mining. Pipe Mining involves deep-earth mines, and Alluvial Mining extracts diamonds from the ocean floor and riverbeds. Alluvial Mining involves work by hand, in sites predominantly located in African Nations, and is the type most associated with unethical diamonds.
24% of the world’s diamonds come from Alluvial Mining, and while it is estimated that 80% of these diamonds come from reputable, ethical sources, there are still those on the market produced by smaller, unregulated sites, known as Informal Alluvial Mining. These mines have non-unionised employees working by hand, in unsafe working conditions, while living in extreme poverty.
Most diamond mines, however, are owned and operated by large corporations that must adhere to local and international laws, standards, and regulations. These corporations are also at the behest of shareholders and customers – who are increasingly holding large organisations (especially those with a presence in developing nations) to account for establishing and maintaining ethical standards, and it’s working. Diamond mining companies are increasingly reviewing and strengthening their ethical practices.
In further positive news, a 2017 Trucost Report found that the DPA (Diamond Producers Association, comprised of seven of the world’s biggest diamond mining companies) brought over $4 Billion in wages and salaries to the economies in which its mines are located, and paid over 4.8 times the living wage to the average worker. While there is still more growth to be had, the report’s findings highlight the notable economic development brought to these regions.
How are Lab Grown Diamonds Made?
Lab Grown Diamonds are not technically made, they’re grown, through a process called Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD). CVD works by taking what’s known as a ‘diamond seed’ a slice of diamond and placing it into a chamber filled with carbon-rich gases and heated to 800 degrees Celsius. The gases cling to the seed, and little by little, a diamond grows. The process is, essentially, a sped-up version of what happens under the earth’s crust.
Are Lab Grown Diamonds Sustainable?
It’s not clear cut. Lab Grown Diamonds have been developed through years of dedicated, complex engineering, and technology varies from producer to producer and is considered a trade secret. This lack of transparency makes it hard to track the energy used to produce a Lab Grown Diamond. Because of this, it’s difficult to say whether one is more sustainable than the other. It is no secret, however, that mining is one of the most environmentally impacting of any industry on the planet, so Lab Grown Diamonds certainly provides a very worthy alternative.
Are Natural Diamonds More Expensive than Lab Grown Diamonds?
Natural Diamonds are more expensive but hold their value over time when compared to Lab Grown Diamonds. A Lab Grown Diamond can cost up to 50% less than a Natural Diamond of similar grading.
This is because Natural Diamonds have a much more complex supply chain – from mining to polishing, to importing. Lab Grown Diamonds are not impacted by these issues, their supply chain is more efficient, and they cost less money to grow.
So, Are Natural Diamonds Worth It?
While Lab Grown Diamonds have a lower upfront cost, their resale value is considerably less than a Natural Diamond. Natural Diamonds are technically rarer than their Lab Grown counterparts (there is a finite amount on the earth). As such, a Natural Diamond will retain a higher value after purchase than a Lab Grown Diamond.
So, What’s The Bottom Line?
Pros and Cons of Lab Grown Diamonds
Lab Grown Diamonds tend to be more cost efficient, allowing you to purchase a larger or higher quality diamond for the same price as a Natural Diamond. However, they are likely to have a lower resale value. While hard data is still to be reviewed, they are largely regarded as being better for the environment, and for people.
Pros and Cons of Natural Diamonds
Natural Diamonds are more expensive, but hold their value long after purchase. A product of the mining industry, they are part of a sometimes problematic sector, albeit one that provides notable economic development in parts of the world that really need it, and has worked to significantly improve practices across sustainability and humanitarianism.
Which is right for you?
Deciding between a Lab Grown or Natural Diamond is entirely up to you and the things you value. Still unsure? Talk to an expert. Diamondport Jewellers offer consultations to guide you through the entire process, from selecting your diamond and creating a design to carefully cradling it.
Buying a piece of fine jewellery adorned with a diamond should be a memorable experience. With Diamondport, you are assured that whichever diamond you choose, you will be rewarded with a piece that is gleaming, enduring, ethical and elegant.