Are you considering a lab-grown diamond for your engagement ring? It’s certainly an enticing option when you can get roughly twice as much diamond for your money, than if you go for a mined diamond.
There are pros and cons (we think mainly pros) so read through our top 10 reasons to consider a lab-grown diamond for your engagement ring.
Or go straight to Lab Grown Diamond Engagement Rings
Lab-Grown Diamonds: From 1769 to Today
In 1796, an enterprising English chemist named Smithson Tennant discovered that diamonds are made of carbon, just like graphite, a much softer and darker mineral used in pencils.
While both are carbon, the key difference between diamond and graphite is the type of carbon atom each has and how these atoms bond.
Even though we have known diamonds are composed of carbon for centuries, we lacked the technology needed to form these precious stones. From the 1870s onward, several people claimed to have successfully created a diamond from charcoal, some even got close, but none of these results could be replicated by other scientists.
The often dangerous attempts to synthesize diamonds under high pressures and temperatures continued using carbon rods, and later graphite, as base materials.
Project Superpressure (more than just a cool name)
A major breakthrough came in 1954 when General Electric (GE) scientists in the company’s “Project Superpressure” team — a secretive and elite group of chemistry, physics, and industrial engineering experts – successfully forged diamonds from graphite.
To transform into a diamond, graphite has to undergo major structural changes. Temperatures as high as 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit and pressures around 50 to 60 thousand times greater than our standard atmosphere are needed. While GE did make diamonds in the 50s using the high pressure, high temperature (HPHT) method, the stones were small, impure, and rather unattractive. As a result, they were relegated to industrial uses.
Since GE’s early efforts, technologies and processes have advanced, and we now have several ways of creating diamonds, including the most recent breakthrough, chemical vapor deposition (CVD).
Today’s lab-grown diamonds are virtually identical to mined diamonds and are indistinguishable from natural gems to the naked eye. Even jewelers can’t immediately tell whether a diamond is lab-grown; the girdle of the stone can be checked with a loupe for a laser inscription indicating if it is lab-grown. They rate a 10 on the Mohs hardness scale, sparkle and shine the same way, and their chemical makeup and structure are the same as “real” diamonds.
There are some ways lab-grown diamonds differ from mined diamonds though:
Ethics, the environment, and your wallet
Lab-grown diamonds are always ethically produced and conflict-free. They are also more affordable and better for the environment.
A note on the latter point as it can be contentious: one report from the Diamond Producers Association (DPA) claims that mined diamonds have a lower carbon footprint than lab-grown diamonds. However, the DPA represents most of the world’s major diamond miners, including Rio Tinto and De Beers, so this claim should be viewed with their interests in mind.
In contrast, a 2014 report from Frost & Sullivan — an organization with no affiliation to mining companies or companies producing lab-grown diamonds – shows that every carat of mined diamond requires twice the energy expenditure of its lab-grown cousin. Meanwhile, figures from the Diamond Foundry support Frost & Sullivan’s findings.
Lab grown diamonds are quickly becoming popular with younger people who are interested in both the value, and the environmental benefits. See this study which rates cities around the world for GenZ, with Climate Change one of their most important issues
Conflict-free natural diamonds?
What is less contentious, though, is the ethics of buying mined diamonds. The term “blood diamond” wasn’t born in a vacuum, and it’s no secret that diamond mining has resulted in a lot of bloodshed in the past.
That said, the industry has undergone significant changes in recent years. Increased transparency and the advent of third-party watchdogs and organizations such as the Kimberley Process, among other certification agencies, mean that it’s much easier to find ethically sourced diamonds today than it was in the past. In addition, the rise of Canada’s natural diamond industry gives buyers who want to avoid purchasing gems mined in Africa other options.
Peter Norman is committed to only providing ethically sourced and conflict-free natural diamonds, along with our extensive range of lab-grown options. We believe in leading the change, so every diamond we provide is responsibly sourced.
There’s one more motivator for choosing lab-grown diamonds: they’re much more affordable than mined stones. In the early days of lab synthesis, producing a diamond was an expensive and laborious process, which impacted the final price for consumers.
But things changed quickly as our technologies advanced, and today’s lab-grown diamonds are available at accessible price points. In 2020, the production price per lab-grown carat had fallen significantly, meaning everyone can add a little sparkle to their lives and a little glitz to their engagement celebrations.
As a result of these three factors, lab-grown diamonds are increasingly popular in engagement rings and other types of jewelry. Consumers of all ages are opting for lab-grown instead of mined diamonds. Younger buyers, in particular, are leading the switch with the majority of millennials saying they would choose lab-grown diamonds over natural gems.
Why the resistance then?
Despite the obvious benefits of lab-grown diamonds, not everyone is on board yet.
For example, well-known retailer Tiffany & Co still doesn’t stock lab-grown diamonds. In a statement, the company said it does not consider lab-grown diamonds a “luxury product” and as such does not think synthesized diamonds are suitable for its luxury brand.
Lab-grown diamonds have the same chemical composition as mined stones and can come in high clarities and colors. Therefore, Tiffany & Co’s statement reveals a lot about how the company equates luxury with exclusivity, not the quality of the product. This isn’t a new tactic, of course. Ultra high-end brands have always taken steps to create and maintain an air of exclusivity.
How people view the availability of natural diamonds is another reason behind Tiffany’s stance. Many people think natural diamonds are incredibly rare, which increases their value. Diamonds aren’t necessarily as rare as some may expect. However, sourcing diamonds is an incredibly difficult and labor-intensive process.
Nevertheless, Tiffany & Co is just one retailer missing out on the beauty of conflict-free lab-grown diamonds. Other name brands, including Peter Norman, have made the switch and offer both conflict-free natural gems and lab-grown diamonds depending on the customer’s preference as we understand the value in both.
Remember when top wineries all insisted on using natural corks? They did this until it was abundantly clear that synthetic corks and screw-tops still meant quality wine in consumers’ glasses.
This idea is similar with diamonds; a few traditionalists are being presented with ample evidence that the old way of doing things is changing, but it might take them more time to adapt.
Buying lab-grown diamonds
If you’ve decided that lab-grown diamonds are the best choice for your engagement ring or another piece of special jewelry, you’re in the right place. Peter Norman offers a range of lab-grown diamonds which we craft into custom-made engagement rings and other pieces.
Let’s take a closer look at prices and how they relate to a lab-grown diamond’s size, carat weight, and quality.
Lab-grown diamonds come at great prices
When you choose a lab-grown diamond, which is identical to a mined diamond in terms of appearance and the gem’s chemical composition, you can expect to pay a fraction of the price. As with natural diamonds, the cost of lab-grown diamonds is based on each gem’s properties.
Stones with higher cut, color, and clarity ratings are more expensive than those with lower ratings. Contrary to popular belief, lab-grown diamonds aren’t universally perfect. As with natural diamonds, synthetic gems can have various inclusions and colors. You can, however, get a much larger stone for your budget than you would be able to with a mined diamond. They are an excellent choice for people who want a large, statement engagement ring.
Lab Grown Diamond Color options
Just as with mined diamonds, lab-grown gems come in an array of colors. The upside to choosing lab-grown gems is that it’s much easier to find a fancy colored lab-grown diamond, especially if you’d like a rarer blue or pink gem. Fancy colors are those not on the standard D-Z color scale, where D indicates colorless and Z indicates light yellow or brown.
At Peter Norman, we work to source both the finest lab-grown and conflict-free mined diamonds for you to choose from. Ready to start designing your own piece of jewelry with a lab-grown diamond as the center stone?
Get in touch to discuss your ideas. We’ll help you take it from concept to glittering reality.