Natural vs. Lab-Grown Diamonds

Origin is the only aspect of lab-created or “grown” diamonds that differ from a natural diamond. Lab-grown diamonds are manufactured through cutting-edge technology in a controlled laboratory to replicate the natural diamond growing process. The result is a diamond that is chemically, physically and optically the same as those grown in nature.

Natural Diamonds

Natural diamonds are created under the pressure of earth’s crust over millions of years, then they are mined, cut and polished. Natural diamonds have tiny amounts of nitrogen, while lab-grown diamonds have no nitrogen. This is a signifier gemologists use to identify natural from lab-grown.

Lab-Grown Diamonds

A lab-grown diamond is placed through the same circumstances, only in a lab setting. In fact, the process used to create a lab-grown diamond cuts down the grow time significantly, from millions of years to a couple of months. Then, the lab-grown diamond is cut and polished.

The differences between natural and lab-grown diamonds cannot be seen with the naked eye. Visually, each is exactly the same with the same hardness level and durability.

How are Lab-Grown Diamonds made?

There are two processes used to create lab-grown diamonds:

Chemical Vapor Deposition Diamonds

The first process is called Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD). A “seed crystal,” which is a very small diamond seed, is placed in a small chamber. The chamber is then filled with gases that are heated. Once the gases reach the right temperature, layers of carbon begin to form on the seed crystal. This causes the seed to grow and create a square-shaped diamond crystal.

High Pressure High Temperature Diamonds

The second process is called High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT). This is meant to replicate the earth’s process of forming natural diamonds. In this process, natural graphite is placed in a large machine that crushes it with extreme pressure and temperatures. Under these conditions, the graphite turns into a diamond.

What is the Difference Between CVD and HPHT Diamonds?

HPHT diamonds grow in a cuboctahedron shape and have 14 different growth directions, while a CVD diamond has a cubic shape and only one growth direction. The methods of CVD and HPHT are what create the similar optics of natural diamonds. You cannot tell the difference between a CVD and HPHT diamond without very specialized technology. Both methods create a real diamond that is chemically and physically identical to natural diamonds.

When it comes to grading lab-grown diamonds, the same 4 Cs: Color, Cut, Clarity and Carat are applied.

Common Myth

Lab-grown diamonds are sometimes referred to as man-made, synthetic, cultured or artisan. The interchangeable terms can cause confusion and can lead to the assumption that lab-grown diamonds are simulated or not authentic.  This is factually incorrect.  In 2018 the FTC ruled that other than the source, mined diamonds and lab grown diamonds are both real diamonds.

Certification & Grading

Today, most lab-grown diamonds are certified primarily by IGI or GCAL.  GIA also offers lab grown certification.  All of these gem laboratories will give an “accurate assessment of a diamond’s cut, color, clarity and carat weight according to strict international standards.”

Important Considerations

Even if two lab-grown diamonds receive the same 4C’s grading from a laboratory it does not mean that they both will look the same or be equally beautiful.  This is also true of mined diamonds. The growing process, just like what occurs in mother nature does not always produce the finest rough material that is essential to maximize a diamond’s brilliance.  Unfortunately, some growers will take shortcuts to reduce growing costs resulting in their diamonds being foggy or tinted.  These characteristics can significantly reduce a diamond’s beauty and are not noted on any laboratory reports.  DeVons was one of the first jewelers in the country to establish working relationships with the best growers in the world and every Forever Pure lab- grown diamond is individually examined to assure the most sparkle and brilliance.

Popularity of Lab-Grown Diamonds

Lab-grown diamonds have grown in popularity over the past several years for a variety of reasons, cost and awareness being the primary drivers. Consumer acceptance is growing as lab-grown diamonds are being recognized equally as their natural counterparts. According to a CBS report, “buyers are attracted to their affordability, sustainability and traceability.” The price of lab-grown diamonds has dropped over the past few years (lab-grown diamonds cost approximately 50% less than natural diamonds) and demand continues to grow. Just like mined diamonds, all lab-grown diamonds are individually unique subject to the purity of the growing process and the excellence of the cutting. Being one of the first jewelers in the country to offer lab-grown diamonds, DeVons Jewelers Forever Pure™ lab-grown diamonds are only sourced from the finest growers in the world and cut to the most exacting standards thus maximizing sparkle and beauty. They are featured in a variety of settings and jewelry types. Join us in-store for expert advice and assistance.