What Is a Lab Grown Diamond?

“Grown” inside a lab using cutting-edge technology, a lab created diamond replicates the natural diamond growing process, with a result that is chemically, physically, and optically the exact same as those grown beneath the Earth’s surface. Although these diamonds are man made, these precious and radiant gemstones are molecularly identical to traditionally mined diamonds -- without any of the adverse impacts on the planet and people.

Are Lab Grown Diamonds Real Diamonds?

The number one question we get is “Are lab created diamonds real diamonds?

The answer is a very simple yes! Lab grown diamonds, otherwise known as man-made or lab grown diamonds, are indeed real diamonds. In fact, the only thing that makes lab created diamonds different from natural diamonds is their origin.

"Lab created diamonds are not fakes. They’re not cubic zirconias. They have all the same physical and chemical properties of a mined diamond,” says Stephen ­Morisseau, a spokesman for the Gemological Institute of America -- a nonprofit organization that oversees the international diamond grading system. (Source.)

Sometimes, lab grown diamonds are also referred to as synthetic diamonds. However, while this term is not technically inaccurate, the use of “synthetic” may be why people believe lab grown diamonds are “fake” or not "real diamonds." But this couldn't be farther from the truth! Lab grown diamonds are not the same as cubic zirconia or other diamond simulants, as they are chemically, physically, and molecularly identical to traditionally mined diamonds. When compared to other popular diamond simulants, it’s clear that lab created diamonds are, in fact, real diamonds.

Benefits of Lab Created Diamonds

Lab grown diamonds make for gorgeous engagement rings and diamond jewelry -- at a fraction of the cost of traditional diamonds, and with substantially less environmental impact.

Eco Friendly

For every carat of diamond that is mined, nearly 100 sq ft of land is disturbed and almost 6000 lbs of mineral waste is created.

Ethically Sourced

All in all, mined diamonds result in 1 injury for every 1,000 workers annually, while lab grown diamonds result in zero.

Competitively Priced

Due to the shorter supply chain, which is also critical to ensuring transparent and ethical practices, lab grown diamonds can be anywhere from 20-40% less expensive than mined diamonds.

How Are Lab Created Diamonds Grown?

Before we talk about how lab grown diamonds are made, it’s important to understand how mined diamonds are formed. The processes for natural and lab grown diamonds are extremely similar -- only one is a natural occurrence, while the other takes place in a lab.

Geologists working with mined diamonds believe that natural diamonds formed deep within the Earth between 1 billion to 3 billion years ago. While they don’t know exactly how each mined diamond came to be, they believe a natural diamond starts when a carbon-rich material is subjected to extremely high temperatures and pressure beneath the Earth's surface. Natural diamonds begin to form as the carbon atoms in the material rearrange and bind to create a diamond's particular crystal lattice structure. As this stunning crystal structure develops over a long period of time, a diamond forms.

In the creation of natural diamonds, carbon dioxide is exposed to heat in excess of 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit and put under extreme pressure of roughly 727,000 pounds per square inch. Diamonds are then transported from deep within the Earth’s core to the surface by way of deep volcanic explosions.

How are Lab Grown Diamonds Made?

There are two processes to produce lab grown diamonds: High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT) and Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD).

High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT)
High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT) lab grown diamonds are made using one of three manufacturing processes: a belt press, the cubic press, and the split-sphere (BARS) press. All of these processes create an environment of extremely high pressure and high temperature conducive to diamond growth. A High Pressure-High Temperature lab grown diamond begins as a small diamond seed that is placed into carbon. Using one of the manufacturing processes above, the seed is exposed to temperatures of about 1500 degrees Celsius and pressurized to approximately 1.5 million pounds per square inch. The pure carbon melts, forming a diamond around the starter seed. It is then carefully cooled to form a pure carbon diamond.
A Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD)
A Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) lab grown diamond also begins as a thin slice of a real diamond seed, which is often an HPHT-produced lab grown diamond. The diamond seed is then placed in a sealed chamber and heated to around 800 degrees Celsius. The chamber is filled with carbon-rich gas, such as methane -- thus the name Chemical Vapor Deposition. The gases are ionized into plasma using technology similar to that of microwaves or lasers. The ionization breaks the molecular bonds in the gases, and the pure carbon adheres to the diamond seed, and proceeds to slowly crystallize. An incredible amount of science goes into your lab grown diamond engagement ring!

How Are Lab Created Diamonds Certified and Graded?

Most diamond certification labs grade using the 4c’s (cut, clarity, color, and carat — more on those later!). However, a select few use their own criteria as it is not standardized in the diamond industry.

The diamond grading process is roughly the same for all of the diamond certification labs: Each diamond is graded independently by several gemologists at the lab. The individual grades are compiled and analyzed to determine the final grade.

The most popular diamond certification labs are:

Are Lab Grown Diamonds Graded the Same as Mined Diamonds?

Both lab and natural diamonds are sent to a gem lab that specializes in grading all kinds of diamonds. Their processes are designed to provide each diamond with an unbiased grade. However, it’s not uncommon for a diamond to get a different grade, not only from a different lab but within the same lab, if sent back for a second grading.

For this reason, there are a lot of differing opinions amongst consumers and diamond retailers as to which lab is the “best.” But it’s important to keep in mind that those opinions are completely subjective. Each lab, much like anything in life, has its pros and cons. When shopping for lab grown diamonds, the best way to ensure a trustworthy grade is to make sure your retailer uses a reputable certification lab.

A diamond retailer, whether for mined or lab grown diamonds, chooses which lab they use because they trust that lab to grade diamonds fairly. If diamond certification is an important factor in your purchase, you should have a candid conversation with your jeweler about which lab they use and why. More than anything, jewelers want you to be confident in your purchase, so don’t be afraid to ask questions in order to find the best lab-created diamonds for your engagement ring or jewelry. This conversation will help ensure you're making the most educated decision about your engagement ring or diamond jewelry purchase.

A diamond is evaluated using the 4c’s: cut, clarity, color, and carat. When grading, they are looking to judge the diamond on how well it has been cut down from the raw form into a jewel, how flawless and clear it is, and its size.

Click the link below, you’ll find an explanation of each of the 4 C's and the different measurements used for each.

Benefits of Lab Grown Diamonds

Choosing a Lab Grown Diamond is Cost Effective

The substantially lower prices of lab grown diamonds tend to be much more cost effective than those of mined diamonds. You simply get more sparkle for your money! Also, if the cost to the environment is an important factor in your decision, lab grown diamonds make for a win-win situation.

This does not mean that lab grown diamonds are “cheap” -- in fact, the capital costs for lab grown diamonds and mined diamonds are fairly similar. Mined diamonds and lab created diamonds have the exact same costs when it comes to cutting, polishing, and inspection, and a great deal of care and craftsmanship goes into preparing diamonds for engagement rings.

However, the costs and processes are very different up to that point. This is partly because of the long supply chain for traditionally mined diamonds. Getting a mined diamond from its raw form to a retail-ready gemstone requires miners, distributors, cutters, polishers, jewelry manufacturers, and retailers.

Meanwhile, the lab created diamond supply chain is greatly reduced by skipping the mining process entirely. To put it simply, a lab created diamond touches fewer hands, making it ultimately less expensive.

Lab Grown Diamonds Make for Ethical Engagement Rings

Several years ago, the mined diamond industry came under scrutiny when unethical production practices were exposed. These diamonds, sometimes referred to as blood or conflict diamonds, funded violence and exploited miners and their families. No one wants blood to have been shed for their engagement ring.

Thanks to the Kimberley Process, established in 2003, these unethical practices have been significantly reduced. In fact, it’s estimated that 99.9% of natural diamonds are now conflict-free. However, the only to be absolutely sure your diamond is conflict free is to opt for a lab grown diamond.

If avoiding conflict or blood diamonds is important to you, lab created diamonds provide peace of mind that a natural diamond often cannot. You may find reassurance in the transparency of lab grown diamonds, and the ability to know the exact origin of your diamond.

Choosing Lab Diamonds is Environmentally Kind

As with the mining of any natural resource, diamond mining has a significant impact on the environment. While diamond mining companies are fully aware of that impact and have taken steps to minimize their effect on the ecosystems around them, mining processes are still harmful to the planet.

Choosing a lab grown diamond ensures that your engagement ring is more environmentally friendly. Lab created diamonds are inherently and significantly less detrimental to the environment, as it takes considerably less energy to grow a diamond in a lab than it does to dig it out of the ground. And minimizing the amount of energy use in the process is actually incentivized, as it can help growers save money and decrease costs.

Lab Created Diamonds vs Mined

As lab created diamonds continue to grow in popularity, diamond shoppers will be asking themselves this exact question. But, the only one who can answer that question is the shopper.

Should I Buy a Lab Grown Diamond?

There are many reasons to prefer a lab grown diamond or a natural diamond when seeking the perfect engagement ring. You may choose a mined diamond because you feel they hold a certain significance and are one of nature’s miracles with a mysterious origin, a magical stone dug from the Earth.

Or, you may be attracted to a lab created diamond because you feel they signify modern love and the incredible progression of technology. You may be in awe of the way that lab grown has changed the diamond market, or see the value in getting more sparkle for the price.

While some may want to debate which type of diamond is “better,” in reality, mined diamonds and lab created diamonds aren’t in competition with one another. Diamonds represent love -- and love is love.

The true significance of the diamond you choose isn’t in its origin. It’s not the carat weight or the price you paid. It’s not how it’s graded. It’s not its size.

The significance of the diamond you choose is the love it represents.

Clean Origin's Commitment to Lab Grown Diamonds

We’ve been in the jewelry business for over 100 years, and from the beginning, our passion has always been diamonds, jewelry, and caring for our planet and our customers. Because of this, we have chosen to design all of our jewelry using lab created diamonds.

Whether it’s for a diamond engagement ring, a unique wedding band, or any other kind of diamond jewelry, we believe lab created diamonds offer the opportunity to choose a diamond that you can trust to be high quality, affordable, ethical, and environmentally friendly -- all backed by a 100-day return policy.

Discover the Diamond of Your Dreams

Both lab created and mined diamonds are beautiful, high-quality gemstones, each with an intriguing history that represents the best feeling in the world: love.

Regardless, we understand that diamonds are a significant investment, and you want (and deserve) the knowledge needed to make an informed purchase, even if you are not interested in a lab created diamond.

We designed this guide to be a comprehensive resource to help you learn more about lab created diamonds, covering how lab created diamonds compare to mined diamonds in terms of quality, process, and origin -- and how these factors make them different financially, ethically, and environmentally.

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