Jewelry & Watches
Everything You Need to Know About Lab-Grown Diamonds
Lab-grown diamonds look very similar to mined ones, making it almost impossible to differentiate the two with the naked eye.
IMAGE COURTESY GOLCONDIA
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Man-made diamonds have been in existence since 1955, but it was only around five years ago that companies started producing diamonds comparable to those that are naturally occurring.

Today, lab-grown diamonds look very similar to mined ones, making it almost impossible to differentiate the two with the naked eye. Here’s everything you need to know about them.

Myth: Lab-grown diamonds are not real diamonds.

In the jewelry industry, man-made stones are classified as one of two categories: synthetic or simulant. Synthetic stones have the same chemical and physical compositions as their natural counterparts—lab-grown diamonds fall under this category. Simulants, on the other hand, look like certain natural stones but have different properties. Some popular diamond simulants are cubic zirconia and moissanite.

There’s more to the diamond than meets the eye.

The key difference between the two types is the process by which they’re produced. It takes millions of years for mined diamonds to form, and the process requires high temperature and pressure conditions found only beneath the earth’s surface. Man-made diamonds can be created in a matter of weeks using one of two methods: High Pressure, High Temperature (HPHT) or Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD).

The HPHT method recreates the natural process: equipment is set up beneath the earth’s surface where carbon is crystallized through intense heat and pressure. The process produces mostly yellowish and brownish diamonds, and is expensive because of the amount of energy and the equipment required.

The CVD method is seen as a better alternative for creating colorless diamonds. A flat diamond seed crystal and a gas (such as methane) are placed in a vacuum chamber, which is heated to activate and break down the molecules of the gas. The carbon atoms that result from the chemical reaction stack up on top of the seed crystal, “growing” into a larger diamond. This method is also cheaper than the HPHT method because it requires moderate temperature and low-pressure levels.

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Is the price right?

Man-made diamonds are 30 to 40 percent cheaper than natural diamonds, and prices continue to decline as production increases. In March 2018, a white, 1-carat round lab-created diamond that is VS (very slightly included) in clarity, F-H (near-colorless to colorless) in color, VG-ideal cut, with no-to-low fluorescence had an estimated price of $4,350, while a natural diamond with the same specifications was priced at $6,150. In March 2017, the two were priced at $4,850 and $5,850, respectively.

[Mined] diamonds are forever.

Despite differing only in how they’re produced, mined and man-made diamonds are perceived differently by consumers. An online poll conducted by the Diamond Producers Association (DPA) and The Harris Poll concluded that 68 percent of American consumers do not consider man-made diamonds as “real” diamonds, stating that these lack the authenticity of mined diamonds. A separate study conducted by KRC Research backed this up: 89 percent of respondents agreed with the statement, “When treating myself to a luxury item, I look for authenticity.”

Perfect for right now.

As companies like Rio Tinto and ALROSA champion authenticity, creators of lab-grown diamonds hope to attract millennials by promoting their lower prices and more environmental-friendly methods. According to a survey conducted among more than a thousand American millennial-aged consumers, 70 percent of respondents would consider a lab-grown diamond for the center stone in an engagement ring. “Millennials want to know that the products they buy aren’t harming anybody in their production,” shares Marty Hurwitz, CEO of MVI Marketing.

 

The De Beers Group, a company that has long vowed to sell only mined diamonds, seems to be targeting millennials as well. In an unprecedented move, they announced that they will soon start selling white, pink, and blue lab-grown diamonds for as low as $800 per carat. The brand’s new fashion jewelry brand, Lightbox, “will transform the lab-grown diamond sector by offering consumers a lab-grown product they have told us they want but aren’t getting: affordable fashion jewelry that may not be forever, but is perfect for right now,” shared CEO Bruce Cleaver. If you simply can’t wait to get your hands on a lab-grown diamond, here are some brands to consider:

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Diamond Foundry

The San Francisco-based company prides itself in creating GIA Gemologist-graded diamonds with a zero carbon footprint. Fun fact: Leonardo DiCaprio is an investor.

Pure Grown Diamonds

Pure Grown Diamonds offers lab-grown diamonds that are bigger and brighter for the same value as its mined counterparts. The brand prides itself in its Type IIa diamonds, the rarest and purest type in the world.

Gordon Max

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Each diamond from Gordon Max is handcrafted with unrivaled technical precision, allowing for pieces that are identical to natural diamonds without the hefty price tag.

ORRO

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ORRO believes in offering stress-free prices, superior quality, and excellent craftsmanship to all. Their diamonds are paired only with 18-karat white/yellow/rose gold, solid platinum, and platinum vermeil.

GOLCONDIA

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The Filipino brand refers to its diamonds as “Greenhouse Diamonds”—equally as real, stunning, and brilliant as its mined counterparts. Each piece is certified Type IIa and comes in an array of colors.

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Paulina Paras
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