Lab vs natural update!

Lab vs natural update!

First...the boring bit

Lab-grown diamonds have the same physical and chemical properties as mined diamonds, and are identical in every way, other than the origin. A lab-grown diamond will even pass a jeweller's diamond tester which is why it’s so important that the industry is transparent.

There are two types of lab-grown diamonds, both can ‘grow’ a diamond within weeks.

  • HPHT – High pressure/High temperature

Carbon diamond seed is put in a vacuum chamber and pressure and heat are applied to mimic conditions within the Earth.

  • CVD – Chemical vapour disposition

A bit like 3D printing for diamonds. It starts the same way as HPHT but with less pressure. Methane gas is put into the chamber and the gas is separated. The hydrogen leaves the chamber, and the carbon atoms start to crystallize on the diamond seed, thus ‘growing’ the diamond.


Mined diamonds are rare.


Diamonds have never been rare. Indeed, most of Russia’s supply of diamonds has already been mined. It is stockpiled and filtered into the market at a controlled rate, ensuring to not flood the market and lower its value.

50% come from Africa (mostly Botswana)

35% come from Russia

15% come from North America


Lab-grown diamonds are sustainable/ethical.


There's much green washing surrounding gemstones, with sustainable and ethical claims being thrown around interchangeably when they are essentially different things. Diamonds regardless of origin, are not a sustainable product in terms of energy usage. However, lab-grown is more sustainable than mined. Lab diamonds could be considered ethical in terms of production as within these large factories much of the process is machine-led not human, but many of these factories rely on coal to power them, so again, not sustainable.

Something to consider is that mined diamonds support whole countries' economies. How ethical would it be to move away entirely from natural diamonds and abandon those communities?


Diamonds hold their value.


I’m sorry but that salesperson lied to you. A mined diamond will hold a proportion of its value, but not all and it’s certainly not an investment. That said, there will always be a market for natural mined diamonds. The beauty is in the story, the fact that they’ve come from Mother Earth and were created billions of years ago. For many people there’s an emotional value to owning a natural diamond, one that’s subjective. Additionally, they may be abundant, but they’re hard to get to which is part of their charm.

A lab-grown diamond has no resale value.


Lab-grown diamonds are made by men in white coats in nice shiny labs.


Not exactly. These are huge factories predominately in China, India, and the USA, with China making 56% of all lab-grown diamonds in the world.


What if it has a Kimberley certificate?


A Kimberley certificate certifies a diamond as ethical. In real terms, this is only as good as everyone in the chain from start to finish. With a rough diamond, the testing isn’t sophisticated enough to determine the origin. Once the rough has changed hands up to 20x and been cut there’s no way of telling provenance. For this reason, only a small percentage of the world's diamonds are 100% traceable.

There’s been a ban on Russian diamonds entering the UK since March 2022, but some experts claim it’s not well controlled. 95% of the world's diamonds are cut in India, and India has never had a restriction on Russian diamonds entering their country. Out of Russia’s 35% control of the world's diamonds, 75% are owned by the state, so I will let you draw your conclusion.

In summary

Both have their place, and neither is ‘better’. Big players like De Beers deal in both, suggesting the market for both is strong. The important thing is to know what you’re buying so you don’t get duped into purchasing a lab-grown diamond for the price of natural. In 2022 lab lab-grown diamonds were approximately 30% lower in price than natural diamonds, but their price is rapidly dropping as technology improves.

There’s no doubt a murky side to mined diamonds and for those people for whom provenance is of the highest importance, then lab-grown may be preferable to you. But it’s all horses for courses.

Engagement rings

As times change and social norms are replaced, we’re becoming less attached to the custom of a man proposing to a woman with a single solitaire diamond engagement ring, meaning the diamond itself is losing some of its favour. Many welcome the opportunity to purchase a diamond at a more accessible price point but a lot of the younger generation are shunning custom and replacing the diamond altogether.

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