If you’ve shopped for diamond jewelry lately, you may have noticed the sudden prevalence of lab-grown diamonds. Due to a combination of recent technological advancements and changes in consumer preferences, lab-grown diamonds have become much more popular over the last several years. But though lab-grown diamonds are much more common today than they were a decade ago, we know that people still have many questions about these lab-created gems. People wonder if lab-grown diamonds are real diamonds, if you can tell the difference between lab-grown and natural diamonds, why someone would choose a lab-grown diamond over a natural diamond, and so on. In order to clear queries like these up (and help our readers make educated buying decisions), below, we’re answering these questions and more in our diamond vs. lab-grown diamond FAQs. 

What are lab-grown diamonds?

Lab-grown diamonds are man-made diamonds that have been created by scientists in a highly controlled lab environment. Lab-grown diamonds have the exact same chemical composition, carbon atom structure, optical properties, and physical properties as natural diamonds. This means that they’re just as beautiful and durable as mined diamonds. The only fundamental difference between natural and lab-grown diamonds is in how they form. 

How are lab-grown diamonds made? 

There are two methods that are commonly used to make lab-grown diamonds: high-pressure high-temperature (HPHT) and chemical vapor deposition (CVD). 

The HPHT method works by mimicking the way diamonds form naturally deep below the Earth’s crust. When utilizing this method, scientists take a tiny diamond crystal and expose it to pure carbon within a containment chamber. They then expose it to incredibly high temperatures and pressures, which causes the carbon to melt and form a lab-grown diamond around the diamond seed. 

When scientists use the CVD method, they also begin with placing a diamond seed in a chamber. They then heat this chamber to a very high temperature, fill it with a carbon-rich gas, and ionize the gas using microwaves or lasers. This causes pure carbon to break away from the carbon-rich gas, after which it will form a lab-grown diamond around the diamond seed layer by layer. 

Are lab-grown diamonds less expensive than natural diamonds? 

Yes. Many people who choose to buy lab-grown diamonds over natural diamonds do so because of their lower price. On average, lab-grown diamonds cost around 30% less than natural diamonds. 

What’s the difference between lab-grown diamonds and natural diamonds? 

The main difference between lab-grown diamonds and natural diamonds is that they form differently. Other general differences include their price and the options available within each category. One of the more notable differences in terms of options is in color variety. Scientists haven’t yet figured out how to make certain colored diamonds in a lab, so there are fewer color options within the lab-grown diamond category. Whereas, natural diamonds come in virtually every color of the rainbow. 

These aforementioned differences are general, but note that there could certainly be more differences between the individual diamonds within each category. Just like natural diamonds, lab-grown diamonds come in a range of carat weights, qualities, and prices. No two lab-grown diamonds or mined diamonds are exactly alike, so they can have quality and carat differences that are unique to the specific gemstones you’re comparing. 

Can you tell a diamond is lab-grown by looking at it? 

No, you can’t tell if a diamond has been lab-grown with the naked eye. Even skilled GIA gemologists require highly specialized equipment in order to tell the difference between lab-grown and mined diamonds. 

Is a lab-grown diamond a fake diamond, a diamond simulant, or a diamond alternative? 

Lab-grown diamonds are not fake diamonds. They’re man-made diamonds that were created in a laboratory. Therefore, they’re also not diamond simulants, which are things that are meant to look like diamonds, but are not diamonds (like cubic zirconia). Similarly, lab-grown diamonds are not diamond alternatives, though you could consider them an alternative to mined diamonds. 

Why choose a lab-grown diamond vs. a natural diamond? 

Ultimately, whether a lab-grown diamond or a natural diamond is right for you is very personal. There’s no better option, only the option that’s better for you. But if you want to gain an understanding of why other people tend to go natural vs. lab-grown, we can summarize the most common reasons people prefer each option. 

There are several reasons people may prefer natural diamonds over lab-grown diamonds, but the most common is because they value how they form. It takes billions of years for a diamond to form in the earth and it takes a uniquely special set of circumstances for this formation to even occur. To many people, this is a beautiful, romantic process that makes natural diamonds feel more special. In addition to valuing this natural formation process, people prefer natural diamonds because they’re more traditional or because they believe they’ll retain resale value better than lab-grown diamonds. 

People tend to prefer lab-grown diamonds for one or both of these two reasons: their lower pricing or the fact that they don’t involve mining. Lab-grown diamonds cost an average of 30% less than mined diamonds. This can help you save money on your diamond jewelry or help you get a bigger, higher quality diamond within your budget. Then, lab-grown diamonds are made in a lab and do not need to be mined. This is a big plus for those who are concerned with the ethical or environmental impact of mining. 

Are lab-created diamonds durable enough for an engagement ring? 

Yes, lab-created diamonds are definitely durable enough to be worn in an engagement ring. Like mined diamonds, lab-grown diamonds score a 10 out of 10 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. This means that they’re harder than sapphires, rubies, moissanite, morganite, emeralds, and every other gemstone (apart from mined diamonds, which are equally hard). Most jewelers would say to go with a 9 or above on the Mohs scale for everyday rings like engagement rings. With their 10 out of 10, lab-created diamonds easily pass this bar.

Do lab-created diamonds come with diamond grading reports? 

The idea that diamond industry leaders won’t grade lab-grown diamonds is a common misconception. Industry leading grading labs such as the GIA and the IGI frequently provide lab-created diamond grading reports, so lab-grown diamonds can certainly come with diamond grading reports. 

Final Thoughts on Diamond vs. Lab-Grown Diamond FAQ

We hope this FAQ has been educational for those who are weighing their options and trying to decide how they feel about lab-grown vs. natural diamonds. Still have questions about diamonds or diamond jewelry? Please feel free to reach out to us, we’d be happy to assist you! You can get in touch with us by calling us at (815) 235-3169, by scheduling an in-person or virtual consultation appointment, or by stopping by our jewelry store during our regular store hours.