What is a Lab Grown Diamond and Why is it Important to Know the Difference?

By  //  December 9, 2021

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For most of human history, diamonds were found exclusively in nature, and a combination of their rarity and beauty made them a sought-after commodity.

Today, scientific progress has made it possible to grow diamonds in laboratories, rather than mining them from deep beneath the ground.

So what exactly is a lab grown diamond, and what differentiates them from their natural, traditionally sourced counterparts?

A carbon copy

The first thing to point out is that lab created diamonds are actually indistinguishable from natural equivalents both from the perspective of their optics, and at the chemical, molecular level.

This means that rather than being inferior in terms of their aesthetics or their practical usefulness, they are both superficially and fundamentally identical. But of course, this is only half the story.

The financial implication

Another point to bear in mind is that lab grown diamonds are typically sold at a much lower price point than natural diamonds.

One of the reasons for this is that they can be created far more cheaply than the equivalent mined stones, since growing them in a lab does not require any of the investment in the land, machinery or people power that is part and parcel of the mining industry.

Perhaps more importantly, buyers simply place more value on natural diamonds, because of the perception that they are somehow more authentic and ‘real’ than man made rocks.

From a buyer perspective, it is important to know the difference because if you buy a lab grown diamond but it is sold to you as a natural diamond, you could pay over the odds.

Then if you choose to resell it, you might either deceive someone else by accident, or else find that your prized possession is actually worth a lot less than you originally thought.

The humanitarian side of the equation

Another point to make about lab grown diamonds is that they do not bear the moral burden of natural diamonds.

Diamonds tend to be mined in parts of the world where humanitarian crises have or are still unfolding. As such, it is very difficult to source natural diamonds that are truly ethical in their origins. At some point in the supply chain, exploitation will likely have occurred, which could weigh on your conscience.

Even if you buy a natural diamond second hand, you are still paying into the perpetuation of an industry which destroys individual lives as well as entire communities.

Conversely with lab grown diamonds, none of these humanitarian dilemmas are present. Instead you can buy jewelry which looks incredible and will let you wear it without a voice in your head chiding you for compromising your values.

The environmental aspect

If the moral qualms of natural diamonds is a difficult pill to swallow, then the ecological implications will be yet another point of difference between them and lab grown gems, especially in the face of the current climate crisis.

We have already touched on just how many resources have to be poured into mining diamonds, and the carbon footprint of this is significant.

There is also the destruction of habitats which is directly associated with mining, as well as the waste materials which can be extremely hazardous to life.

Concluding thoughts

Consumers today can have a hard time finding products which are both ethically sound and environmentally friendly, without having to make some compromises.

With lab grown diamonds, you get the best of both worlds, so there really is no reason to opt for natural diamond jewelry unless you simply cannot get over the nebulous concept of authenticity being absent from something man made.