What’s the Deal with Lab Grown Diamonds?

Not too long ago, our GIA Graduate Gemologist Richard was featured in a Sun Sentinel article on lab grown diamonds. A lab grown diamond is exactly what it sounds like – a diamond created in a lab by growing a diamond chemically identical to a mined diamond.

Lab created diamonds are real diamonds in every way (as opposed to lab-created diamond simulants). The two— both natural, mined diamonds and laboratory created gems— are virtually indistinguishable.

Because of the relative rarity and, of course, the cost of mining natural diamonds, they’re about 20% – 30% more expensive than the synthetic diamonds on the market. So, why would you ever shop for a natural diamond rather than a lab-grown one? Well, there are a few reasons.

The main one is that colorless lab grown diamonds tend toward the small side. It was big news when a lab purportedly made a 5 carat diamond, because most gem labs can only grow them up to 1.50 carats. When it comes to fancy colored diamonds, it’s easier to grow them larger.

We personally do not carry lab-created diamonds (you’ll see that ours was the voice of dissent in the Sun Sentinel article above.) We find that when it comes to being cutting edge, we’re all for it – until it starts to interfere with our customers’ trust.

Because the regulations and grading regarding synthetic diamonds are pretty non-existant, it’s entirely up to jewelers to disclose when they’re selling a man-made diamond. And because there’s no easy way to differentiate between the two, it would be difficult for us to say that we’re 100% certain we’re selling a synthetic diamond with such and such characteristics.

There’s also the confusion that comes with man made diamonds and their wily counterparts, lab grown diamond simulants. A lab grown diamond simulant is no different than any other diamond simulant like moissanite or cubic zirconia. But they’re more difficult to detect.

“Many advanced testers are available to identify whether a diamond is in fact a diamond or a simulant, working to determine thermal or electrical conductivity. Testers such as the  Fourier transform infrared spectrometer (FTIR) or energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence (EDXRF) can both detect traces of metal in a diamond, which comes from the molten metal solution the diamond is grown in.

However, most diamond detection equipment is only available to large diamond labs. And, according to GIA and JCK, there’s no easy detection method coming for the lay jewelry folk anytime soon.”

– Synthetic Diamonds and Proper Identification

For us, we’d be wary of purchasing any diamond that’s not properly identified. We won’t purchase most treated diamonds (we do make exceptions for irradiated, color enhancing treatments, which we always disclose.) We won’t touch a diamond with strong blue fluorescence with a 10 foot pole. And we’re equally averse to buying lab-grown diamonds. So we wouldn’t pass something that we don’t personally want to buy onto our customers.

For us, a diamond’s rarity and preciousness come right after its beauty when it comes to their value. We, for the time being, will stick to naturally mined diamonds.

 

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