Visiting the Diamond Market and Bourse in Antwerp, Belgium, several years ago was the perfect opportunity to learn about lab-grown and natural diamonds.
Eighty to ninety percent of all rough and finished diamonds in the world pass through this tiny, exclusive six blocks of old Antwerp. In addition, I questioned, viewed and handled the new “Created” diamonds rapidly emerging into the world markets. Names for these diamonds include lab-grown diamonds, grown diamonds, synthetic diamonds, man-made diamonds, cultivated diamonds or cultured diamonds.
All are correct as there currently is no definitive label assigned by a governing body.
Jewelers, diamond dealers and gemologists are still hotly debating the benefits and detractions of lab-grown and natural diamonds. This past March, I discussed all aspects of this current debate at the Atlanta Jewelry Show.
The discussion can be divisive, with strong emotions from both sides of the conversation. Naturally mined diamond advocates argue that lab-grown diamonds have no rarity due to the endless ability to create them, essentially an unlimited supply. While creating natural diamonds can take billions of years deep in the earth, the lab-grown process can produce a sparkling gem in as little as four weeks.
Laboratory-grown diamonds are the result of advanced (NASA) technological processes rather than ancient, geological ones. Although man-made, they have the same chemical composition and properties as diamonds found in nature. They have the same hardness and refraction as natural diamonds. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA), which independently grades natural diamonds, is now grading lab-diamonds and providing the same level of certification as natural diamonds.
Many Diamond Options
For the last 20 years we have offered our clients simulated diamonds as well as natural diamonds. We can now offer lab-grown diamonds. The difference between a simulated diamond (Cubic Zirconia and Moissanite) is these LOOK like a diamond but are not a diamond. A synthetic or lab-grown diamond is a REAL diamond just from a different origin. The options that this allows for our clients and their budgets gives us versatility when approaching the design process. Our goal is to create the most spectacular and eye-catching jewelry designs that delight our clients!
Since we follow closely all information regarding lab-grown diamonds, we have discovered new information to share with our clients. Lab-grown diamonds are often easier to cut than natural diamonds due to cleaner crystals and finer clarity. Natural diamonds crystals must be cut with attention and expert placement, considering the numerous flaws in the crystal that may have to be avoided or removed entirely. The finer lab-grown diamonds can yield larger, cleaner crystals that allow the cutter more latitude in planning the final gem.
DeBeers is the most famous name in the natural diamond world. As a result, they were able to control the price of natural diamonds with rigid manipulation of supply, market demand and monopolization. Now DeBeers is no longer the biggest player and has gotten into the lab-grown diamond market themselves! They have just opened a $90 million lab-growing facility in Portland, OR. There, they expect to ultimately produce upwards of 200,000 carats of small lab-diamonds annually. Their goal, as stated by their site director, is to make small lab- diamonds affordable for every occasion, not just engagements.
Advantages of Lab-Grown Diamonds
Here are some of the reasons we are seeing 40% of our clients choosing lab- created diamonds:
- Price. Lab-diamonds are approximately 30-45% lower in cost than natural diamonds.
- A more plentiful supply in larger sizes offers greater choices.
- When placed side-by-side with natural diamonds, our clients cannot discern which is the lab- diamond.
- Natural diamond mining can create immense, open pit holes the size of a small city. The ecological “cleanliness” of lab- created diamonds is appealing to many of our clients.
- Created diamonds are conflict-free and ethical, ensuring fair pay, safe working conditions, environmentally sound practices with no human rights abuses.
- More occasions can be celebrated with the purchase of a created diamond due to lower pricing.
Advice for Buying Lab-Grown Diamonds
Now more than ever, it is crucial to buy from a trusted, reputable source. We invite you to make an appointment to see our many collections and view the difference for yourself!