Should I Buy Lab Grown or Natural Diamond?


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Should I Buy Lab Grown or Natural Diamond?

Natural diamonds have long been treasured as valuable finds because they require very specific conditions and millions of years to form. Diamonds form in the earth when carbon atoms are squeezed together at pressures that are 50,000 times greater than that on the Earth’s surface. Surrounding temperatures must reach about 1,600 degrees Celsius for the carbon atoms to then bond together and create the precious gems that we know as diamonds.

Modern science has brought us a second option as well. Since the 1950s, scientists have been perfecting the process of making artificial diamonds. Technicians can now produce lab-grown diamonds that are visually similar to their natural counterparts. Though they look the same, they’re not quite identical to real diamonds. Here’s what you need to know about the differences.

What Are Lab-Grown Diamonds?

Real and Lab Grown Diamonds

Lab-grown diamonds are manufactured synthetically in a lab environment that mimics the conditions that create natural diamonds. There are two primary methods of producing lab-grown diamonds.

High Pressure, High Temperature

The high-pressure, high-temperature (HPHT) process has been in use to create lab-grown diamonds since its development in the 1950s. It begins with a small piece of natural diamond known as a diamond seed. The diamond seed is surrounded by carbon material and placed in a series of machines that recreate the natural conditions that produce a diamond. These machines apply over 870,000 psi and expose the carbon materials to temperatures up to 1,300 to 1,600 degrees Celsius. 

The diamond and carbon materials are exposed to these conditions for several days. During this time, the carbon melts and forms a complete diamond around the original diamond chip. The HPHT process ultimately creates in a few weeks what the earth would take billions of years to make.

Chemical Vapor Deposition

Chemical vapor deposition (CVD) was created in the 1980s as an alternate way of producing lab-grown diamonds. This process uses a small diamond seed that’s placed in a chamber containing hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen gasses. The chamber is heated to temperatures between 600 and 800 degrees Celsius using a laser, microwave, or hot filament as an energy source. The heat and energy cause the formation of carbon from the gases in the chamber.

Graphite forms around the diamond during this process as well, so technicians must periodically stop the process and remove the graphite that’s crystallized. Over time, enough carbon crystalizes around the diamond seed to create an entirely new diamond. Diamonds made using the CVD process are usually brown or yellow in color and must go through a separate heat treatment to become white. Technicians may use additional chemicals and treatments to make red, pink, or blue diamonds as well. 

Advantages of Lab-Grown Diamonds

Lab-grown diamonds contain the same chemical composition as natural diamonds minus the small amount of nitrogen that you only find in natural diamonds. They look the same to the naked eye and receive the same grades for shape, size, color, and clarity. You’ll receive the same diamond certification regardless of how your diamond was made. 

There are minute differences between natural and lab-grown diamonds, but these are only visible when the stones are examined closely by a trained eye. A natural diamond has eight sides of growth, whereas a diamond formed through the HPHT process has 14 directions of growth, and one made using the CVD process has just one direction of growth. 

Disadvantages of Lab-Grown Diamonds

Lab-grown diamonds don’t have the same value as natural diamonds. A natural diamond is a wonderful, rare find that’s been forming in the Earth for millions of years. Though you can’t immediately see the difference on the surface of the diamond, it is present. As lab-grown diamonds become more common, they decrease in rarity and value. The historical significance of a diamond is directly related to these factors, so a common, artificially made diamond doesn’t measure up.

Lab-grown diamonds are also very energy intensive to make. It can take as much as 250 million joules of electricity per carat to produce a lab-grown diamond, and they’re usually smaller than those you can mine from the earth, though modern technology is gradually giving us larger options. Since lab-grown diamonds are so methodically produced, you may see less variation in their finished form.

Are Lab-Grown Diamonds Worth Buying?

If you’re interested only in the outward appearance of a piece of jewelry, a lab-grown diamond can give you the glittery appeal of a natural diamond. You’ll find many different colors, sizes, and shapes to choose from and will pay less for an artificially made diamond than you will for one mined from the earth.

If you’re purchasing a diamond for its rarity and history, a lab-grown diamond just doesn’t have the same backstory. This stone didn’t spend millions of years slowly forming in the earth while history unfolded just above them. They’re not as romantic or inspiring for those who like to sink into the real story behind a precious gem. 

Both natural and lab-grown diamonds have their benefits, but it’s important to know the difference before you go shopping. You should also learn about the preferences of the special someone that you’re shopping for if you’re purchasing an engagement ring or other gift. Lab-grown diamonds can spark quite a debate, and it’s helpful to know which side your special someone tends to be on. With thoughtful selection, you can find the right diamond for your purchase.

Find the Best Diamonds for Your Needs

If you’re interested in investing in precious diamond jewelry, our team at Americash Jewelry & Coin Buyer in Illinois has an excellent selection for you to explore. We have many natural diamonds with rich histories that you can invest in as a special gift. We also purchase diamonds if you have special pieces in your collection that you’re ready to part with. Contact us to learn more.

two diamond studded silver rings by Edgar Soto is licensed with Unsplash License 

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