Buying a diamond is a personal and emotional experience, especially when you are purchasing an engagement ring or significant piece for a loved one. There are many factors to consider as a part of this process, especially given the rise of a new alternative: the lab-grown diamond.
What is a lab-grown diamond?
Lab-grown diamonds are produced using technology that mimics the pressure and heat generated by the geological process which creates naturally-occurring diamonds deep in the earth. The technology has advanced in recent years and lab-grown diamonds have become increasingly common.
Is a lab-grown diamond ‘the real thing’?
The short answer: Yes. Lab-grown diamonds are made of pure carbon and have the same physical characteristics as a natural diamond, unlike other imitation alternatives such as moissanite, glass or cubic zirconia. Although tests can determine whether a diamond is lab-grown, it will appear identical to a natural diamond and the same Four C’s will determine the diamond’s quality and sparkle.
Manufacturers are required to disclose whether a diamond is lab-grown as well as any new-to-market treatments or techniques, however, the diamond will ultimately be graded in the same way that a natural diamond would be. For example, lab-grown diamonds produced with high pressure, high temperature technique can turn out yellow or brown, and then treated synthetically to remove the colour. For this reason, it’s important to ask the right questions when choosing a lab-grown diamond.
What are the main reasons for considering a lab-grown diamond?
Lab-grown diamonds are often less expensive because they are more accessible, however be aware that they do not retain the same value that natural diamonds do. Natural diamonds hold their value over time, over generations, and even increase in value as a commodity.
Lab-grown diamonds are also often marketed for their sustainability. However, the hotly debated topic of environmentally responsible diamond production leaves us with many more questions. The US Federal Trade Commission issued a warning that unproven environmental claims were being made by some synthetic diamond manufacturers, and for this reason it can be difficult to source accurate data. What we do know is that the energy required to produce a lab-grown diamond is significant.
On the other hand, although natural diamond miners have invested heavily in technology and processes to offset their carbon footprint, the environmental impact can be more significant than simply carbon emissions. Diamond mining is linked to destruction of habitats, and acid mine drainage and has been known to cause pollution.
That said, where it comes to social responsibility, many countries rely on diamond mining for their income, schools and water supply. Take, for instance, Canadian diamonds which adhere to strict environmental and labour laws. They even give back a percentage of revenues to the community, and a written commitment to return the region back to the environmental state in which they found it once the mining is complete.
How will I know what is right for me?
Ultimately, in both categories - natural and lab-grown - True can find diamonds that fit into any of your desired criteria. We recommend you determine your reasons for buying a diamond and what you value most. Are you purchasing for price, or environmental impact, or natural elements and history of formation, or lasting value? Knowing the factors of importance to you, True has a network of diamond suppliers* globally and can help source the diamond that suits you best.
*At True Curated Designs, we are committed to ethically produced and fair trade diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds offered are all sourced from certified carbon-neutral facilities. Natural diamonds are all GIA-graded and are guaranteed not to fund conflict or terrorism.