Lab Diamonds vs. Natural Diamonds: Which is Right for You?

Understanding the Difference Between Lab and Natural Diamonds

At Berlinger Jewelry, we blend tradition and innovation, crafting pieces that are both timeless and contemporary. Inspired by the Art Deco era, our creations capture the essence of elegance and individuality. Today, we delve into the differences and similarities between lab-grown diamonds and natural diamonds. This guide will help you understand each type, making your diamond choice clearer and more informed.

What Are Lab-Grown Diamonds?

Lab-grown diamonds, also known as lab-created, man-made, or cultured diamonds, are crafted in highly controlled lab environments that replicate natural diamond formation conditions. These diamonds consist of actual carbon atoms arranged in the iconic diamond crystal structure. Since they are made from the same material as natural diamonds, they exhibit the same optical and chemical properties. The main difference here is instead of coming from the earth, the rough material comes from a laboratory. Because of this we have a lot more control over the size, shape, color, and clarity, making higher quality diamonds more readily available. 

How Are Lab-Grown Diamonds Made?

Creating lab-grown diamonds is a fascinating process. Here’s how it works:Starting with a Seed: The process begins with tiny carbon seeds from pre-existing diamonds.

Two Main Methods:

  1. High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT): Mimics the Earth’s natural conditions. Carbon material is subjected to over 870,000 lbs per square inch and temperatures between 1300-1600 degrees Celsius. This forms a rough diamond in six to ten weeks.
  2. Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD): A diamond seed is placed in a vacuum chamber filled with carbon-containing gases. These gases are heated, causing carbon atoms to bond with the seed and grow layer by layer into a diamond.

After forming, lab-grown diamonds are cut, polished, and eventually set into beautiful jewelry. We use both HPHT and CVD diamonds.

Important Note: Because lab-created diamonds are relatively new to the market, they are typically available only in popular shapes and sizes, such as 1 carat round or 2 carat emerald cuts. Many of the mosaic pieces we create feature unique shapes and sizes (known as diamond melee), which are currently available only in natural diamonds. These unique shapes are not yet produced in lab-grown quality.

How Are Natural Diamonds Formed?

Natural diamonds are formed over billions of years deep within the Earth’s mantle, under extreme heat and pressure. Volcanic eruptions bring them closer to the Earth’s surface, where they are mined, cut, and polished into the sparkling stones we know and love.

The Journey of Natural Diamonds 

  1. Formation: Deep within the Earth, over billions of years. 
  2. Brought to the Surface: Via volcanic eruptions.
  3. Mining and Cutting: Extracted from the Earth, then cut and polished.

Each natural diamond is a testament to the Earth’s extraordinary processes and the passage of time. Because of their rarity, natural diamonds come in a lot more shapes, sizes, colors, and characteristics than their lab counterparts.

Lab-Grown vs. Natural Diamonds: Key Differences

Visual and Physical Properties

Without specialized equipment, you cannot tell the difference between a lab and a natural diamond. Both share the same physical, chemical, and optical properties, displaying identical fire, scintillation, and sparkle.

  1. Lab-Grown Diamonds: Created in a lab.
  2. Natural Diamonds: Formed in the Earth over millions of years.

Trace Elements and Inclusions

  1. Lab-Grown Diamonds: May contain different trace elements, but these do not affect appearance.
  2. Natural Diamonds: Formed with natural inclusions that gemologists can identify.

Diamond Simulants: Not to Be Confused

Lab-grown diamonds are different from diamond simulants like moissanite and cubic zirconia. Simulants do not have the same physical or chemical properties as real diamonds.

  1. Moissanite: Can look similar but has rainbow-like refractions.
  2. Cubic Zirconia: Durable but lacks the brilliance and hardness of real diamonds.

Ethical Considerations

Lab-grown and natural diamonds can both be ethically sourced, but the methods and implications differ significantly:

Lab-Grown Diamonds

  1. No New Mining: Lab-grown diamonds are created without the need for mining, which reduces environmental impact.
  2. Controlled Conditions: The process ensures minimal ecological disruption and adheres to ethical standards.
  3. Sustainability: Lab diamonds are an excellent choice for those concerned with reducing their carbon footprint and avoiding the environmental toll of mining.

Natural Diamonds: 

  1. Ethically Sourced: When sourced responsibly, natural diamonds can support sustainable practices and even enfranchise local mining communities.
  2. Economic Support: In regions like Botswana, the diamond industry plays a crucial role in boosting the local economy. Ethically sourced natural diamonds can provide jobs, improve infrastructure, and support community development.
  3. Long-Term Benefits: The revenue from ethically mined diamonds helps fund healthcare, education, and public services, contributing to the overall well-being of the communities involved.

Certification and Grading

Both lab-grown and natural diamonds are certified and graded using the same criteria – the 4 Cs: Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat. Institutions like the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the International Gemological Institute (IGI) provide certification for both types.

Choosing Between Lab-Grown and Natural Diamonds

Personal Preferences and Values

Your choice between lab-grown and natural diamonds ultimately depends on your personal preferences and values:

Natural Diamonds: If you value history, rarity, and traditional origins and are looking to make more of an investment in your jewelry to appreciate over time.

Lab-Grown Diamonds: If you prioritize sustainability, ethical sourcing, and affordability.

At Berlinger, we celebrate both the innovation of lab-grown diamonds and the allure of natural diamonds. Our goal is to help you find the perfect gemstone that tells your unique story and captures your individual style.

At Berlinger Jewelry, we are passionate about offering diamonds that are stunning and align with your values and preferences. Whether you choose a lab-grown diamond for its ethical and economic benefits or a natural diamond for its timeless legacy, you can trust that our pieces are crafted with the utmost care and attention to detail.

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