If you have been engagement ring shopping lately, you have probably heard the term lab created diamond, and perhaps, were wondering what the heck that is!
A synthetic diamond or lab created diamond has the same chemical, optical, and physical properties of a naturally occurring diamond, including crystal structure, but it is grown in a laboratory or factory instead of being formed below the Earth’s crust. Diamonds are not the only gemstones to be grown in a laboratory or factory, in fact, synthetic sapphires, rubies, emeralds, and alexandrites have been around for quite some time!
The first lab created diamond was grown in the 1950’s. By the mid-1980’s, gem quality lab created diamonds were in the market, but they were small with a yellow or brown color. The mid-2010’s brought colorless lab created diamonds in large and small carat sizes to the marketplace!
There are two ways to grow a diamond in a laboratory or factory:
· High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) – A large cubic hydraulic press, roughly 10-15 feet high and wide, imitates the high pressure and high temperatures used to create a diamond in the Earth. It’s the same pressure as a commercial jet plane balanced on your finger with temperatures 1300 to 1600 degrees Celsius!
· Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) – A diamond seed is put into a vacuum chamber where carbon-containing gas is deposited, and the seed crystalizes into a synthetic diamond. If a larger diamond is wanted, they give it more time in the chamber.
Lab created diamonds are not without their own carbon footprint! The metal used to create the large cubic hydraulic press is mined from the earth and uses oil to operate. Both machines also use a lot of electricity to create diamonds.
A lab created diamond sells for about 3.5 to 4 times less than a natural diamond of the same quality grade! They have declined in price since they first came out, and some sources predict their prices to continue to go down. They can be a great way to save on the budget, but I do worry about resale value and the ability for trade in when a couple wishes to upgrade. My suggestion when purchasing a diamond is to get one with an independent grading lab report from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or the American Gem Society (AGS) as they both indicate on their reports whether or not the diamond is natural or lab created.
A word of caution. According to the FTC, the person or online store selling you your diamond MUST ALWAYS disclose if the diamonds or gemstones in your jewelry are lab created and not natural. When they don’t say it is lab created, the assumption is that it is natural. There must be a verbal disclosure from a person or typed into the description online, as well as, a written disclosure on the receipt. In a previous blog, What’s the Price Difference, I talk about how a too-good-to-be-true price can be an indicator of lab created gemstones www.angelacisneros.com/post/what-s-the-price-difference
Helping you shop for jewelry is what I have been doing for the past 23 years! Whether you want natural or lab created gemstones, I am a Graduate Gemologist and would love to help you pick out your ring! Book your one-on-one appointment with me today! www.angelacisneros.com/book-appointment
Fun fact: the diamond earrings pictured above are Lab Created!