Megan Markel, Jeniffer Lopez, Rihanna… are just a few of the many celebrities who have caught on to the lab grown diamonds trend. Vogue magazine features a complete article about how these diamonds are making headway throughout the globe. This is good news for both the common person and investors.
But before you run out and purchase or open up a shop of lab grown diamonds, you probably need to have all the questions you may have about them answered. So here is your premium guide to everything you need to know about lab grown diamonds.
What are Lab Grown Diamonds?
The words lab and grown may create suspicion about these products. You probably think they are fakes. But no, Lab grown diamonds can be compared to crops grown in a greenhouse. Technology today is so advanced that man is able to replicate the complex process that occurs in nature over billions of years. Lab grown diamonds are the product of such technology.
Lab grown diamonds (LGD) are diamonds that are created within a controlled environment that accelerates the natural process of diamond formation. These precious stones possess the same properties that natural diamonds do. Even when you look at them, they will look just the same as the natural stones.
The Process of Creating Lab Grown Diamonds
First, let’s talk about the natural process of diamond development beneath the earth. It has to do with a mixture of gases that are exposed to extreme pressure and this results in the formation of a crystallized diamond. This however occurs over several years.
Growing diamonds in a lab, however, is faster but results in the growth of a diamond. Note, that the word growing is used often. This is because a seed diamond is used. Yes, a small piece of diamond needs to be added to the composition and then the lab diamond will grow.
Basically, there are 2 ways synthetic diamonds are made.
1- Chemical vapor deposition (CVD)
2- High-pressure high temperature (HPHT)
In this process, a tiny piece of diamond (300 microns, 10×10 mm thick) is used as a seed. The growth environment is then filled with carbon gas. This environment is a specialized chamber that is able to handle high pressure. The temperature in the chamber is then turned up to extreme levels. The idea here is to copy earth’s natural process but it is accelerated. Over a period of a week or two, carbon will ionize. The particles will lock onto the seed diamond in the chamber. The heat and pressure then make all the compounds crystalize and a new diamond is created. This process is the most used to make pure diamonds.
This is a process that was developed as far back as the 1950s. It involves high pressure and high temperature. It is similar to CVD because a seed diamond still needs to be used but a bit of metal is included and sometimes the metal may get into the diamond and affect its look. Electric pulses are used to create heat and pressure within the chamber so that carbon can fuse with the seed diamond. The lab diamond is then cooled. Although some metal may be present within the diamond, you usually cannot see it unless an expert test is carried out.
Where Lab Grown Diamonds are Made
These diamonds cannot be made in just any laboratory. Specialized labs are created just to grow these man-made diamonds. The equipment is specially created for this purpose and the scientists who perform the procedure are trained extensively. Lab grown diamonds cannot be made by just anyone using simple equipment.
This activity is done in countries like North America, India, Israel, and China. A license is required and the product needs to be certified.
Advantages and About Lab Grown Diamonds
You may be skeptical about man-made diamonds and probably questioning why you should trust them. With natural diamonds, you are usually sure that they are real. On the other hand, you may question how pure lab grown diamonds are. Well, the following advantages should show you why you should think of buying these precious stones made in the lab.
Environmentally friendly: There is no mining involved when it comes to growing diamonds. This means thousands of liters of fossil fuels are saved in the process of making these diamonds. But it’s not just the fuel. Forests, water bodies, and animals are all spared the destruction that is usually associated with mining minerals from deep within the earth. This is an eco-friendly process that can save the earth without compromising the love for beautiful diamonds.
Conflict free and safe: Natural diamonds are usually associated with conflicts. Many of the diamonds mined in Africa are done amidst conflict as different groups fight for control of the mines. Children are also exposed to brutal working conditions. This is the opposite with lab diamonds. They are made in a laboratory just like any other manufactured product and adults are the ones who carry out this process. In the end, while you look beautiful in your LGD, you are free from any guilt that it may have been obtained at the cost of someone’s life.
Purity: When compared to simulated diamonds, LGD are pure. They contain the exact compound found in natural diamonds. They at times look quite similar to the real ones. In the end, you can only tell the difference if you used specialized tools to test the natural and man-made diamonds.
Pricing: Imagine being able to get a diamond with the same quality as a natural one but at a fraction of the cost. The price of man-made diamonds varies according to the manufacturer and the supplier. Despite the variations, you are certain that the price will be lower than what you would have to pay for those that were mined. You can even save as much as 40% when you buy synthetic diamonds. This in part is because the other costs involved in mining and transportation are avoided.
Colored diamonds: Colored diamonds are not easily found in nature and when they are found, the price is a lot more than what you would pay for clear diamonds. With the laboratory process, however, it is possible to manipulate the color so that you have a unique color and not have to pay as much as you would for the natural ones.
Certification: The same bodies that regulate grades of natural diamonds can provide certification for lab diamonds. These precious stones are graded in exactly the same way as their sisters from nature. Avoiding fakes and establishing the grade of different stones is possible using the same method. You, therefore, do not have to worry that you could buy a fake or get cheated while buying diamonds.
Sustainable: The process of creating lab grown diamonds is one that can be sustained. There is no limited resource needed to make the jewels. This means we can keep on making and buying these diamonds without worrying that they may run out of stock. They are a responsible choice that suits the current demand as well as concerns of the modern age.
Are Lab Grown Diamonds Better than Natural Diamonds?
When you put them head to head, there is hardly a contest. The two diamonds come out looking the same. If you compare the look of these diamonds, you will notice that they look the same. The next test would be the composition test, and once again you will have similar results. The one significant result when it comes to results is the presence of nitrogen. Natural diamonds will have nitrogen present while lab created ones do not. It is a minor difference that does not cause a huge change in the quality of the diamonds.
So when deciding whether to go for lab diamonds or natural ones, it is mainly a personal choice. You can decide to look at the advantages of LGD. A factor like price or the fact that they are conflict-free could be the reason a person chooses one over the other.
How to Differentiate Between Fake Diamonds and Lab Created Diamonds?
Diamonds created in the lab are just like natural diamonds. This means to determine if they are genuine, they must be graded in the same way. An expert jeweller will study the color, clarity, carat, and cut.
This is the process of certification that all gemstones undergo. An independent lab does the certification and a certificate showing the grading of the diamond is provided. When buying diamonds from a supplier, you are advised to ask for the certification.
The cut of a lab grown diamond is indicated by its brilliance. This is usually the most important aspect of the stone. The color is also observed and the best quality diamond is completely colorless. This is unless it is one of the unique colored gems.
The experts also check its clarity. This is the degree to which the diamond is flawless. It should have no cracks or blemishes on it.
A common reference to diamonds is the carat. This signifies its size and weight. The higher the carat, the better the value. Every LGD has a carat assigned.
It is important to understand this other category of jewels. Some people confuse lab grown diamonds with diamond simulants. They may look similar, but they are not the same. The composition of simulants is different from LGD and natural diamonds. There is no carbon in them. Common types of diamond simulants are zirconia and moissanite. They are a cheaper alternative to lab created diamonds and natural diamonds. Someone who is simply interested in having jewelry that looks like diamonds but not particular about how genuine it is may opt for these.
You however can differentiate between simulants and diamonds by looking at them even without a magnifying glass. They have different refractive properties and that makes it possible to tell them apart. Simulant diamonds have double refractive properties while lab grown diamonds and natural diamonds have single refractive properties.
It is still important to have a gemologist test the diamond since they are better at determining fakes from the genuine item.
Pricing of Lab Grown Diamonds
The price of diamonds can be volatile. Fluctuation is a common occurrence. Different factors can also determine the pricing of the stone you choose to buy. It has been noted though that the price of lab grown diamonds has taken a deep. Increased demand coupled with increased production has had the price drop to as low as $1200 for a 1-carat diamond. The supplier of the diamonds may also determine the price you may have to pay for the stone.
Before settling for a lab grown diamond, you should check the IGI certification. This will help to clarify what you are paying for. The certification gives weight to the pricing of diamonds.
Many experienced buyers tend to shop around to find the best price. Getting into contact with a supplier and agreeing on a price can also help get the best price.
How to buy Lab Grown Diamonds
It is a simple process in which you need to find a supplier. There are various online merchants. It is however important to ensure you find one who can be trusted. Read reviews from past customers and insist on seeing the certification. As mentioned earlier, prices vary so you should search for the best price for the diamonds you want to buy.
Investing in Lab Grown Diamonds
Lab grown diamonds are beautiful and of value. Celebrities have been spotted wearing earrings, necklaces, and rings made from these man-made precious stones. This is already evidence that they are worth considering as a worthy investment.
At the moment, the value of lab grown diamonds is estimated at just over $150 million. Projections are set to a billion dollars in the next few years. As people get to know more about the jewelry, they are likely to increase their spending on them.
You should also consider the fact that a small stone can be worth millions of dollars. This means it is a valuable commodity that is easy to transport. Transportation costs will therefore be cheaper than if you had to transport mobile phones worth the same value.
Lab grown diamonds also will not fade or diminish with time. You do not have to worry that if you haven’t sold it after some time then the value will drop. Your only worry is to keep it safe.
In a nutshell, therefore, lab made diamonds are a good investment.
What is the shelf life of lab grown diamonds?
For LGD there is nothing like a shelf life. The stone will last just as long as any other precious stone. Although the value of the gem can fluctuate, there will never be a time when it is worth nothing. Diamonds, both natural and man-made, last forever. They do not get softer with time.
Can I insure a lab grown diamond?
If you have bought the diamond, you should value it like any other property. Have a discussion with the insurance company about getting it insured and what would be required. In most cases, you will need the certification that shows its value and the insurance company may decide to have a private gemologist prove that it is indeed worth the value quoted. It is a good idea to insure the stone because it is of value and can get lost or stolen.
How hard are lab grown diamonds?
The strength of a man-made diamond is the same as one made by nature over billions of years. The diamond will last decades and even centuries. You can hand it down from one generation to the next. Even if the stone fell, it is not likely to break. Gemologists rank lab made diamonds on the same level as natural ones.
Is a lab grown diamond good for an engagement ring?
This question is often asked because people imagine since it is cheaper than a natural diamond then it must be of lower value. That is not the case. The same qualities that attract people to natural diamonds are present in LGD. They are beautiful, they last forever and they are of significant value. Think of it this way, you would still have to spend about $1000 on an engagement ring. That price may be 40% less than what you would pay for a natural diamond, but it is still very valuable and only an expert would be able to tell that the diamond was grown in a laboratory. Also, since the diamonds are made in a lab, there is no dark history behind them which is usually associated with natural diamonds from certain parts of the world.
Do lab grown diamonds become cloudy?
No, lab grown diamonds maintain their clarity just like natural ones. The process used to make the diamonds will determine how clear the diamond will be and it will remain that way forever.