Lab-Grown Diamonds: 31 Things You Need To Know

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If you consider buying a lab-grown diamond and looking for answers before making your final decision, you are in the right place.

I personally gathered all the information you need and answered 31 common (and uncommon) questions. And you can filter through this (updated) article to make sure you get the best diamond for your budget. 

Let’s dive in.

Table of Contents

1. Lab-grown diamonds VS natural diamonds

Lab-grown diamonds are taking the diamond industry by storm. These diamonds are changing everything we knew before. Lots of diamond experts actually hate it… Can you guess why? Simply because they lose money. However you as the main consumer, get much more value for the same budget. Let me ask you a question:

Can you see the difference between the next two diamonds?

(Click to open full image)

On the left, you can see a natural diamond, also known as an earth-created diamond, while on the right you can see a lab-grown diamond (also known as lab-created diamond and man-made diamond). 

Both share almost the identical quality:

 
SHAPE: Round
CARAT: 1.01-1.02
COLOR: E
CLARITY: VS1
CUT: Excellent/Ideal
Triple X with no fluorescence
 
So what’s the difference?

The price.

Take a good look:

Earth-created diamond: $8,010
Lab-created diamond: $2,030
 
You save: $5,980 (74%) or invest in a larger and better lab-grown diamond.
 
So “lab diamonds vs. natural diamonds”…. which one wins? If you are looking to get more bang for your buck, lab-grown diamond is the right choice. Allow me to elaborate with the following questions and answers.

2. What is a man-made diamond?
How are lab diamonds made?

Well, the important, and short answer is that lab-created diamonds have an identical chemical and optical characteristics. Let me say that again: THEY ARE CHEMICALLY AND OPTICALLY THE SAME. In other words, they are so much the same that you won’t be able to see any difference, and better yet, a professional gemologist, with a diamond loupe, won’t be able to see a difference. Above all, the main difference is their origin – While earth created diamonds grow naturally beneath the Earth’s crust, man made diamonds grow in highly controlled laboratory environments using advanced technological processes that duplicate those conditions (learn more about CVD & HPHT ).  

A rough lab grown diamond emerges from the CVD plasma reactor - Picture by Lightbox
A rough diamond emerges from the CVD plasma reactor - Picture by Lightbox

3. Are lab-created diamonds and moissanite the same?

Lab diamonds, same as natural diamonds, are made of 99.5-100% carbon. To clarify, they are the closest to pure carbon and rated as 10/10 on the Mohs hardness scale. Moissanite, on the other hand, is made of silicone, and rated as 9.5 on the Mohs scale.

lab grown diamonds vs moissanite

4. Could Lab diamonds test as moissanite?

Moissanite testers check for electrical conductivity, which can cause wrong identifications. The reason for that is that some lab-grown diamonds are electrically conductive, same as most moissanite. 

In addition, nowadays, there are new colorless moissanites that have very low levels of electrical conductivity, which can cause again, to wrong identification, and produce a ‘diamond’ result with the same tester.

To sum up, I recommend to always verify the identification results with multiple instruments, and never rely on one test. The safest way is to send the stone to a lab for further testing.

lab grown diamond tester
Diamond tester

5. Are natural diamonds higher quality than lab-created diamonds?

Colors and clarities of diamonds vary according to the conditions when they are created. This is true for both natural diamonds and lab-grown diamonds. For that reason, we can find both in all qualities. In addition, while we have zero control over the conditions deep below the surface, we do have some control over the conditions in labs which, in many cases, enable us to grow higher quality diamonds than the average quality of natural diamonds. 

6. Are lab-grown diamonds real diamonds

Yes, they share identical chemical and optical characteristics. Yet keep in mind that some lab-grown diamonds (HPHT untreated) are better than other lab-diamonds (CVD treated). As time goes by, the technology evolves and the labs grow better and higher quality diamonds than before. Nowadays we can find beautiful and pure lab diamonds, with great VVS clarity and colorless grade for as low as $2,400 for 1.00 carat.

Rows of lab grown diamond seeds that will become lab-grown diamonds
Rows of diamond seeds that will become lab-grown diamonds - Photo by Lightbox & Forbes

7. How natural diamonds are formed?

Natural diamonds (also known as earth-created diamonds) are diamonds that have formed around 3 billion years ago, typically around 150 miles below the earth’s surface, under specific conditions of extreme heat & high pressured carbon gasses. Carbon-containing fluids dissolved minerals and then grew into diamonds. The growth process took around one month in the earth’s mantle layer, and later the diamonds were carried to the surface in volcanic eruptions.

8. How lab-grown diamonds are made?

Lab-grown diamonds are made with 2 methods: CVD or HPHT. In short, they take a thin layer of a diamond that serves as a seed and grow it into a larger diamond. This is done by mimicking the same conditions from nature: high pressure of carbon gasses and extremely high temperature. The gaseous form of plasma which reigns onto the diamond layer and turns it into a larger diamond.

9. Are lab-grown diamonds test as real diamonds?

Yes. They test as real under all testing methods. Yet, it’s important to note that lab-grown diamonds react differently under both longwave and shortwave ultraviolet light, which can be checked only in professional gemological labs. The is the safest test to check and identify if a diamond is lab-grown or natural.

10. Are lab-grown diamonds considered Synthetic diamonds?

Short answer is No. In the past, most of the diamond industry were against the idea of lab diamonds. Because of that, they started to call lab-diamonds “synthetic diamonds”, to keep the consumers away, as if it’s a fake diamond. Later in 2018 the Federal Trade Commission announced that Lab-grown diamonds are not considered as synthetic diamonds (such as cubic zirconia). In August 2020, the GIA announced they are going to grade lab diamonds as well, remove the word “synthetic” from the certificate and write “Laboratory-grown diamonds” instead.

11. Pricing comparison

There is one big difference I did not mention yet – buying a lab-grown diamond allows you to get up to 30%-75% more size for the same cost. In this day and age, where young people struggle financially, an engagement ring is a big expense. Buying an engagement ring that you’ll feel confident about, and that she will be happy with, can be quite expensive.

We will do side-by-side comparison for both natural and lab-grown diamonds. All diamonds are E VS1 Ideal cut, Triple excellent with no fluorescence.

(last compared on 24/12/20)

Diamond Type Natural Diamond Lab-created Diamonds % Price Gap
0.50 Carat E VS1 Ideal Cut $1,480 $640 56%
1.00 Carat E VS1 Ideal Cut $7,790 $2,460 68%
1.50 Carat E VS1 Ideal Cut $15,040 $5,670 62%
2.00 Carat E VS1 Ideal Cut $28,160 $10,840 61%
Another way to save a lot of money and get the best diamond engagement ring for your budget is to buy online. Online retailers, like JamesAllen allow you to get the ring for up to 30% less than the price you would have paid in-store. JamesAllen specifically, offers a huge selection of diamonds (300,000+), both earth-created and lab-created, and all their diamonds are photographed in 360HD. Moreover, their leading visualization technology shows the exact color and clarity details of the diamond, and is being used by members in the industry for buying and selling diamonds, without the need of viewing the diamonds in person. Check the SUPER ZOOM feature on the diamond item page and see the miracle 

12. How much is 1 carat lab diamond

Same as with natural diamonds, the price of the lab-grown diamonds depends on the 4c’s: carat, color clarity and cut. You can get a 1 carat for as low as $1,100 if you choose to get a nearly colorless grade (J-H) and low clarity (SI). The minimum I recommend is F VS1, which is extremely affordable and sold for $1,950

If you want to get the perfect 1 carat lab-grown diamond: D color and VVS1 clarity, you’ll need to pay only $3,410

13. How much is 2 carat lab diamond?

Depending on the combination of the carat, cut, color and clarity you are interested in, you can get a 2 carat lab grown diamond for as low as $4,000 with a nearly colorless color (J-H) and low clarity (SI). If you want to get the best combination of E colorless and VS1 clarity, the price would be around $8,000. Keep in mind that a natural diamond that share the same grades is sold for $20,000

14. Why are lab-diamonds so expensive?

To answer this question, we need to ask “Compared to what?”. “expensive” is a relative term. As we covered before, a lab grown diamond is much more affordable than natural diamonds, with a huge price gap of 50%-75% which allows you to either save some money or invest it in a larger and better lab-grown diamond. If you want to get the classic 1 carat E VS1, you can get a $6,000 natural diamond, or save $4,000 and get a $2,000 lab-grown diamond.

15. Are lab diamonds GIA certified

In August 2020 the GIA announced they are going to grade lab-grown diamonds the same way they grade natural diamonds. With that, they are following the IGI, which has been grading most of the lab-grown diamonds in the market for the last couple of years. You can get both GIA and IGI certified diamond on this site

16. Are lab diamonds ethical

Lab-created diamonds grow in highly controlled laboratory environments, due to that there is no need for mining, unlike earth-created diamonds.

Inside the Lightbox lab grown diamonds manufacturing operation in its new building - Picture by Lightbox
Inside the Lightbox manufacturing operation in its new building - Picture by Lightbox

17. Why does the diamond industry hate lab diamonds?

Many in the traditional diamond industry hate lab diamonds. Imagine that everyone who wants to get engaged comes to you for a diamond. Now, what if 20% of your potential customers have already chosen the alternative product, lab diamonds, and you are afraid that many more will follow? You have 2 options: Offer your customers both natural and lab diamonds, or…. Continue to hate it and lose money and customers.

18. CVD vs HPHT lab-grown diamonds: What is the difference?

When talking about lab grown diamonds, we need to split them into two different groups:

  1. HPHT diamonds: these diamonds are made just like natural diamonds by using High Pressure High Temperature process. You get the diamond, as grown, with no post growth treatment or color enhancement.
  2. CVD diamonds: These diamonds are made with chemical vapor deposition process. In many cases, the end result is a brown or a grey diamond. Of course, most people don’t want such diamonds, so manufacturers often use post growth treatment to enhance the color, to change it to a better grade.
HPHT lab grown diamonds diamond by James Allen
HPHT diamond by James Allen
CVD treated lab grown diamond by Brilliant Earth
CVD treated diamond by Brilliant Earth

19. Brilliant earth lab-grown diamonds Review

Most of the diamonds that Brilliant-Earth offers are CVD treated diamonds. In the natural diamonds market, a diamond seller can use a unique process to enhance a natural diamond’s color, but such diamonds are much cheaper. For some reason, Brilliant Earth does the opposite. The price of their CVD treated diamonds is higher than the price of James Allen untreated HPHT diamonds.

20. Where is the best place to get a lab diamond?

Choosing the right place to get your diamond from is a crucial part in the diamond research. The ideal offer will be the one that can give you the best bang for your buck, good customer service in case you need any help with your order, competitive prices and large inventory with good selection. Also you need to feel safe that what you order is what you get. With James Allen, you get all of that and more. You can inspect a diamond with their 360 video and see exactly how the diamond looks, even better then when holding it in your hand at your local store.

21. Will lab diamonds hold their value?

Same with most natural diamonds, unless it’s a unique diamond, both natural and lab diamonds won’t hold their value and drop it to around 20%-50%, depending on the quality.

22. What is the resale value of lab-grown diamonds?

The resale value of both natural and lab-grown diamonds is around 20%-50% of what you paid. For that reason, you need to keep in mind that if you choose to go with a lab diamond, you can save that money in the first place.

23. Are lab grown diamonds a good investment?

For the common consumer that is not getting an extremely rare diamond, lab-grown diamonds are the right investment to make. Let me explain. If your budget is $6,000 you have 3 options

  1. Get a natural diamond for $6,000
  2. Get the same grades as the natural, but with lab-grown diamond for $2,000 and save $4,000
  3. Invest more and get a larger and better lab-grown diamond

If you buy a natural diamond for $6,000 you should know by now that it will lose its value to around $1,500 so you lose $4,500 which is the worst investment you can make.

If you get option 2, you get to save that cash ($4,000) in your pocket.

The real question is, do you invest for cash or in your relationship. If you invest in your loved one, I recommend ignoring the “Investment” side of this purchase, and just focus on making both sides happy.

24. Can you insure lab grown diamonds?

Of course, just like a natural diamond, you can insure a lab-grown diamond. 

25. Can you get fancy colored lab grown diamonds?

Fancy color lab-created diamonds are much more affordable than natural ones. You can find a large selection of fancy color lab diamonds on James Allen diamond gallery

26. How to choose the best lab created diamond for your budget

Finding the best lab-grown diamond for your budget requires a full understanding of the four c’s. The key is to find the right combination between carat, color, clarity and cut, without overspending. Keep in mind that lab diamonds are much more affordable than natural, and you can get Colorless grades with great clarity for as low as $2,000

27. What are Hearts and Arrows Lab-grown diamonds?

It’s true, there are many beautiful diamonds out there, but not every diamond is a masterpiece. If you want to get the best of the best, look for Hearts and Arrows diamonds. These diamonds are a tiny subgroup, less than 1% of the excellent/ideal cut diamonds. As the name implies, the Hearts & Arrows is a visual effect that appears due to extremely precise symmetry and specific proportions. As a result, these diamonds display 8 perfectly symmetrical arrows from a top view and 8 full hearts from bottom view. These unique characteristics are very hard to achieve, even for the most skilled diamond cutter in the diamond industry.

There is a unique technology that generates red and white “Ideal Scope” images to show a clear image of the hearts and arrows effect. Some stores might claim they sell Hearts & Arrows – You should ask them to show you these images so you can verify that his is true.

JamesAllen has Hearts & Arrows round diamonds, as part of their premium True Hearts brand. They display the ideal scope images on the diamond item-page. Many consider the 9 hearts and the 9 arrows as a symbol for their infinite love. For that, you really need perfect hearts and perfect arrows. It is very difficult to find such diamonds elsewhere.

8 arrows from table view

8 hearts from table view

28. Do lab grown diamonds get cloudy over time?

This is another classic rumor that some of the diamond industry like to tell under the marketing campaign of “Why you should avoid buying a lab-grown diamond”. I’m happy to tell you that high-quality lab diamonds with good clarity, just like natural diamonds, won’t get cloudy.

29. Are lab-grown diamonds getting more popular?

According to MVI research, nearly 70% of millennials consider buying a lab diamond for an engagement ring. In 2019 lab-grown diamonds made up an estimated 3 percent of the $14 billion rough diamond market, around $420 million, and estimated to grow to 5%-10% in online sales of the total jewelry industry.

30. Should you choose a lab-grown diamond or a natural diamond?

At the end of the day, each person knows what’s right for him/her. Some people see the sentimental value of a natural diamond, and don’t get the same value with a lab-grown diamond. Some get the same sentimental value with lab diamonds, and enjoy the higher quality and larger diamond they can get for the same budget. Do what is right for you, and keep in mind that you want to get the highest value you can get for your money.

31. Where can You see Lab-grown diamonds in real life?

James Allen offers free shipping and free returns with 100% money back guarantee. Their hassle-free return policy comes with a pre-paid, fully insured FedEx 2-Day label, along with instructions on how to safely and securely package your items. You can always order a diamond, natural or lab-grown, see it in person and decide if you want to return it, or keep it on the finger. Simple and easy!

Let's Sum It Up To 3 Simple Facts...

Why Man Made Diamonds?

Mining Free

Lab-created diamonds grow in highly controlled laboratory environments, due to that there is no need for mining, unlike earth-created diamonds.

Beauty & Quality

Lab-grown diamonds share the same physical, chemical, and optical properties as earth-created diamonds.

Value

Man-made diamonds offer the same beauty & quality we know from the earth-created diamonds, but allows you to get 30%-70% more size for the same cost.

Conclusion

So here you go, now you know how to get more bang for your buck. 
In fact, now you know how to get THE BEST bang for your buck.
 
Did I miss anything? Do you have any question? Let me know in the comments below!

Let's find a diamond!

Time To Start Searching For Her Perfect Diamond Engagement Ring

Click the BIG BLUE button to open JamesAllen lab-created diamond gallery.
 
I recommend starting the search by sorting the diamonds by price: from low to high.
After sorting by prices, you need to know what quality you are looking for.
 
If you are familiar with the 4C’s,
set the values as you like and you are good to go.

Know exactly what you get using cutting edge technology

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About the author: Yaniv Hadar

As a third-generation in the diamond industry, I’ve started my way in 2015 as a diamond photographer and seen hundreds of diamonds on a daily basis. Unlike other experts, I’ve had the opportunity to see any diamond you can think of: from the poorest to the rarest. Any size, any color. Using my knowledge and experience, I can show you how to pick the most valuable diamond for your budget while getting the most bang for your buck.

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