Natural vs Lab-Grown Diamonds Blog Post

Lab-Created vs Natural Diamonds. Does it matter for the proposal?

People have been adorning themselves in diamond jewellery for over a thousand years, often signifying status and wealth. It wasn’t until 1477 that the first diamond ring was given as a symbol of engagement, and it would be another 500 years before this practice became the norm.

Today, diamonds are the traditional choice for engagement rings, symbolizing the couple’s love and commitment. Modern advances in technology have allowed the creation of diamonds in laboratory environments. Referred to as lab-created or lab-grown diamonds, these gems have sparked public discourse on which is better, with individuals planting themselves on one side of the argument. Below, we’ll look at the differences between natural and lab-created diamonds so you can decide which stone you prefer.

Natural Diamonds

Diamonds are the hardest gemstone. In fact, they’re 58x harder than any other material on Earth, making them a durable option for luxury jewellery. They’re pure carbon and formed under high temperatures and pressure, an environment you’ll find about one hundred miles below the Earth’s surface in the Earth’s mantle. Most diamonds you see today were formed about a billion years ago and took millions to billions of years to form.

The majority of the diamonds you can purchase today were mined in countries like Canada, Russia, South Africa, and Australia. Unlike mining practices in the past, companies have high ethical standards with their mining practices today. The Kimberley Process has been working since 2003 to remove any conflict diamonds that may already be in the global supply chain and keep any more from entering.

Lab-Grown Diamonds

Lab-grown diamonds are also known as lab-created or cultured diamonds. They have the exact same chemical and physical characteristics and crystal structure as natural diamonds. Lab-created diamonds are considered real diamonds, they are just formed in a lab rather than in the Earth’s mantle.

Lab diamonds were first produced in the 1950s for industrial purposes. These diamonds weren’t high quality, they were only used for industry and not for luxury jewellery. But with the advances in technology we’ve seen since then, lab-created diamonds now rival their naturally found counterparts.

Lab-grown diamonds are now high-quality and come in a variety of sizes and colours. Creating a lab diamond with additional elements allows the laboratory technician to encourage certain colours: 

  • Nitrogen creates yellow diamonds.  

  • Nickel creates green diamonds.

  • Boron creates blue diamonds. 

Additionally, the same treatments used to alter natural diamonds can be used on lab diamonds to enhance their appearance when needed as well.

How Are Lab-Created Diamonds Made?

It only takes a few days up to a few weeks to create a lab diamond. There are two processes by which a diamond can be created in a laboratory, both of which require diamond seeds. A diamond seed is a thin slice of a natural diamond.

Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD)– A diamond seed plate is placed in a chamber. Carbon atoms are released due to a chemical reaction and precipitate onto the diamond seed plates. Asthe atoms build-up, a diamond is formed.

High Pressure, High Temperature (HPHT)– A diamond seed crystal is placed in a growth chamber with two distinct sections with differing temperatures, the seed is in the lower temperature section. The high-temperature section is so hot it dissolves carbon, which then melts down into the section with the seed diamond. The carbon then builds up on the diamond seed, essentially “growing” a new diamond.

How to Tell the Difference Between Lab and Natural Diamonds?

For most consumers, it’s essentially impossible to tell the difference between a lab-created diamond and a naturally formed diamond. A gemologist with advanced testing equipment will be able to determine the difference as they can test chemical composition; they can detect what process was used to create a lab diamond or if no process was used at all (natural diamonds). Many natural diamonds on the market today have an identifying inscription, many larger lab stones do as well. Where they differ is that the inscription on a lab-created diamond will include “LG” or “laboratory-grown.”

Should I Propose with a Natural or Lab Diamond?

When it comes to choosing between a natural diamond or a lab-created diamond, it comes down to personal preference. People choose based on a few main factors:

Origin Stories

The two types of diamonds have different origin stories. A natural diamond has a story that is millions or billions of years long. And inclusions are often seen as a beautiful birthmark rather than a flaw that needs fixing, making the gem stand out from other stones. Natural diamonds are of the Earth, they had to go through an incredible journey to end up on your engagement ring, and a lot of people find romance and intrigue in that.

Whereas a lab-created diamond’s story is only a few weeks old. But its journey includes incredible human advancement in the technology and skill required to create the diamond, and that is just as intriguing.

Environmental Impact

As much as mining practices have changed, some would argue that there is still an environmental impact due to mining. Many consumers consider this when looking to purchase a diamond.

That being said, mining companies are doing everything they can to respect the environments they work in. In fact, most countries have laws that require mining companies to return mining locations to the way they were before mining occurred. Many brands do go above and beyond with this practice.

Brands like De Beers Group have incredible initiatives to give back to the land more than what they take. In particular, De Beers Group donates six hectares of land to conservation for every hectare affected by mining. They’re also active in animal conservation in Botswana.

The environmental impact of creating a diamond in a laboratory is comparably lower than mining. Plus, brands like Diamond Evolution have additional initiatives to reduce carbon emissions. Diamond Evolution plants five trees for every item purchased, helping to turn seven metric tons of carbon dioxide into oxygen over the trees’ lifespan.

Which One is Best?

There is no “correct” choice when selecting a lab-grown diamond or a natural diamond for your engagement ring. Each has its own story to tell. The most important factor is that you select a stone that embodies your love and signifies the beautiful commitment you have to your partner.

No matter what ring you choose, there is just as much love in it as in any other.

Still need help finding the perfect ring to pop the big question with? Our diamond specialists would love to help. Get in contact with us or visit us in-store today.