First things first: do lab-grown and mined diamonds look the same? The answer is a resounding yes.
If both types of diamonds were set in front of you, you simply wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the two. Neither could your significant other, nor even an experienced jeweler.
A jeweler can quickly identify simulant diamonds with an optical exam. These “diamonds” are considered fake: they are made from cubic zirconia or synthetic moissanite rocks. It is important to remember that simulant and synthetic (lab-grown) diamonds are two very different things. Simulant diamonds do closely resemble real diamonds, but often appear too clear, unlike both lab-grown and mined diamonds.
Lab-grown and mined diamonds can both range in color from white to yellow. They can come with just a few flaws or many flaws. They can be half a carat or two and a half carats. They can be cut in round or rectangular shapes. They can be set in a halo, solitaire, or any setting you choose.
In other words, on the outside, these two types of diamonds look identical.
You may expect the two diamonds to differ on the inside if not the outside, but they are identical chemically as well. If a lab-grown diamond were tested alongside a mined diamond, they would have the exact same interior composition—carbon.
Both diamonds are incredibly hard and have a sky-high melting point, one of the reasons they can feel cold at room temperatures. While a top-notch simulant diamond could possibly fool a jeweler on the outside, once the jeweler performs a more in-depth test based on chemical composition, the difference would be obvious.
This is one of the reasons that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has declared that lab-grown, “synthetic” diamonds are officially diamonds—leaving simulants in the dust.
The most obvious difference between lab-grown and mined diamonds is where and how the two were created.
Mined diamonds are found deep within the earth. They were created around 3 billion years ago by a specific combination of high heat and intense pressure. Mined diamonds are excavated from the earth by miners, who dig in diamond-rich areas worldwide to find the rocks.
Lab-grown diamonds are created—as you might have predicted—well above ground, in labs. Today, there are two ways to create mined diamonds: with the high pressure, high temperature (HPHT) method, or the chemical vapor deposition (CVD) method.
Recreating conditions of intense pressure and heat that a diamond experiences underground, the HPHT method was the first method of real diamond creation scientists discovered. The CVD method, also known as the “seed method,” is more recent. It involves removing carbon from hydrogen atoms and adding the carbon on top of a diamond seed to grow. These methods usually produce diamonds in several weeks to a month.
Due to their location within the earth, mined diamonds require the work of large mining crews. Unfortunately, the mined diamond industry is notably bombarded with ethics issues, like violent conflicts and low-quality mining conditions.
Diamond mining also causes environmental problems that activists are trying to bring to public attention, especially considering the amount of environmental problems that are occurring across the world. In many cases, the mining process can destroy ecosystems with building projects and hazardous chemicals used around the sites.
Some jewelry buyers steer clear of all diamonds due to these rampant issues—but the ethically-minded don’t need to look away from lab-grown rocks.
Because they’re made in labs by scientists, lab-grown diamonds are entirely ethical, eliminating any worries about ethics you might have when you start looking at the gorgeous gemstones.
Price is the biggest difference between lab-grown and mined diamonds and one of the reasons many people start to look at them.
Lab-grown diamonds can cost around an astonishing thirty percent less than mined diamonds. In other words, a stunning, round-cut, one-carat, mined diamond in a gold solitaire might cost $1000, while the exact same diamond, but mined, would cost around $700.
This price difference is in large part due to the short lab-grown diamond supply chain. Whereas mined diamonds rely on masses of manpower and machinery—which rack up paychecks and repair fees—lab-grown diamonds are created by small teams of scientists in labs. The overhead cost of diamond labs is simply not as hefty, enabling lab-grown diamond sellers to offer prices that are friendlier to your wallet.
Now that you’ve explored the differences between lab-grown and mined diamonds, you can make an informed choice based on your beliefs and your budget. Have any more questions about lab-grown diamonds? Feel free to drop us a line.