The Five Key Differences Between Natural Diamonds and Lab-Grown Diamonds

Certified gemologist Grant Mobley doesn't believe lab-grown diamonds (LGDs) are living up to the hype


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Lab-grown diamonds (LGDs) are catching a lot of attention lately thanks to claims that they are identical to natural diamonds and environmentally friendly. But when you look at the facts, these claims don’t live up to the hype. So to help luxury lovers distinguish between natural diamonds and LGDs, here are five key differences they should know about the two products.

Natural Diamonds And LGDs Have Different Emotional Values

Natural diamonds are billions of years old – a miracle of nature created under enormous pressure about 100 miles below the earth’s surface. For thousands of years, natural diamonds have been a symbol of enduring love and emotional value. For life’s most important moments, only something real, rare and precious will do, whether it’s a gift for oneself or a loved one. Similar to simulants like cubic zirconia, LGDs are fashion products without the same history, heritage or emotional value as natural diamonds. Consumers should enjoy LGDs as fashion jewelry products rather than authentic symbols of true love.

Natural Diamonds And LGDs Have Different Financial Values

Due to their rarity, natural diamonds have significant financial value. There is perhaps no other resource that has maintained its value as long as natural diamonds. And that value is growing. The increasing rarity of natural diamonds and growing demand will protect the financial value of natural diamonds over the long-term. Conversely, LGDs cost only a few hundred dollars per carat to manufacture and hold no financial value – as is the case with any industrial product that can be created in unlimited quantities.

Natural Diamonds And LGDs Are Actually Different Products

While diamonds created naturally in the earth and manufactured LGDs can look similar to the naked eye, there are significant differences that are easily detected with testing equipment. The naturally occurring inclusions in a natural diamond were formed within the earth; they often contain perfectly preserved billion-year old elements of great scientific value. On the other hand, the quick, artificial growth process of LGDs leaves marks and defects inside the stone. They often need to be treated for color to correct distortions created during the industrial production process.

Natural Diamonds And LGDs Have Different Environmental impacts

LGD companies have made claims that their products are environmentally friendly. However, the negative environmental impact of LGDs is significant. Unlike natural diamonds, which were created under natural heat and pressure over billions of years, LGD manufacturing requires the use of massive amounts of energy over just a few weeks. The chemical reactors used to manufacture all LGDs over half a carat burn at a scorching 14,000 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s hot. By comparison, the surface of the sun is only 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Natural Diamonds And LGDs Have Different Origins

While it may be obvious that natural diamonds come from the earth and LGDs come from factories, that’s only part of the origin story. Natural diamonds are created in limited areas of the earth and brought to the surface over millions of years. The supply of retrievable diamonds is limited to a very small, discrete number of remote locations, including Siberia and the Northwest Territories of Canada. On the other hand, the majority of LGDs are created in factories in India and China.

While consumers should decide for themselves whether they want to purchase natural diamond jewelry or LGD jewelry, it’s important that they are empowered with the knowledge about the differences between the two products.

This article was written by Grant Mobley who is a certified gemologist and the Trade Lead for the Diamond Producers Association.

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