Think you know diamonds? If you’re purchasing a diamond today, you’re likely to face an important choice when it comes to picking the stone that’s right for you. That choice can sometimes be between natural diamonds, which originate in the earth, and a man-made product called “laboratory-grown”, “synthetic”, “laboratory-created” or “[manufacturer name] created” diamonds. Since the decision has implications on the up-front cost and long-term value of the stone you choose, it’s important to understand the difference between a natural diamond and lab-grown diamond and come prepared before you make a purchase.
What is a natural diamond?
A diamond* is a mineral created by nature composed mostly of the element carbon with its atoms arranged in a crystal structure – they are the hardest naturally occurring substance on Earth. Natural diamonds were formed on average around 100 miles below the Earth’s surface from 1 to 3 billion years ago, they are older than life on Earth. They form under rare conditions of extreme heat and pressure inside the Earth that causes the carbon atoms to crystalize. Many millions of years ago, ancient volcanoes deep in the Earth blasted toward the surface, trapping diamonds in their lava and bringing them close enough to the surface for us to find. Every natural diamond is unique, just like a snowflake or fingerprint, no two are alike. Read more detailed information on this precious gemstone. *Note: A diamond is by definition natural. When not qualified, a diamond means a natural diamond, from the Earth.
What is a lab-grown diamond?
A laboratory-grown diamond is a man-made product that shares the chemical and optical properties of natural diamonds, but whose origin differs greatly. Lab-grown diamonds are produced in factories in approximately 2-3 weeks using one of two methods originally developed in the 1960s for industrial purposes – HPHT and CVD. These methods artificially replicate natural conditions found in the Earth, forcing carbon atoms into a crystal structure. In more recent years, technology improvements have allowed factories to produce lab-grown diamonds in qualities that allow for uses beyond industrial. Do note, that according to legislation, “cultured”, “cultivated”, “man-made”, and “above-ground” are not acceptable modifiers when used alone. Also, marketing of laboratory-grown diamonds cannot use the words “natural”, “real”, “genuine” or “precious” to describe them. When used alone, the word “diamond” always refers to a natural diamond produced in the Earth. A video explaining the guidelines on advertising lab-grown diamonds..
Is there a difference with lab grown vs. natural diamonds?
While they may look similar to the untrained eye, lab-grown diamonds are not identical to natural diamonds and can be easily distinguished with the proper tool. It’s a common myth that they are identical, but the rapid manufacturing process of lab-created diamonds always leaves telltale marks within the stone that can be identified by experts with 100% certainty.