Have you heard the buzz around town about Lab Grown Diamonds? Want to know what they are, how they stack up against Natural Diamonds, and what Lab Diamond prices are? We got you, Do Amore sells both. Read on below to learn the differences between Lab Diamonds vs Natural Diamonds, and decide who you think wins. Because, at the end of the day, isn’t it your opinion that really matters?

What is a Lab Diamond?

  • Lab Grown Diamonds are real diamonds.
  • Lab Diamonds and Natural Diamonds are basically the same, both chemically and visually.

A “Lab Diamond” is just like a Natural Diamond, except instead of growing in the Earth, they grow in a lab. There is no visual difference in Lab Created Diamonds vs Natural Diamonds. They sparkle the same, have the same types of color and clarity, and can come in the same sizes and shapes. Likewise, Lab Grown Diamonds are just as hard as Natural Diamonds.

Left: 1.14-carat round natural diamond | Right: 1.15-carat lab diamond.

April 2020: Find out what inclusions are unique to Lab Diamonds!

Carbon is the main element in both Natural and Lab Diamonds. The only chemical difference between Lab Diamonds vs Natural Diamonds is that most Natural Diamonds contain tiny amounts of nitrogen, and Lab Diamonds do not. This lack of nitrogen is one way gemologists can identify Lab Created Diamonds vs Natural Diamonds. Laser inscription and unique fluorescence are other identifying features of Lab Grown Diamonds.

 

Is a Lab Diamond Fake?

No. A Lab Diamond is a real diamond. Because Lab Grown Diamonds have the same chemical and visual properties as Natural Diamonds, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) even recognized Lab Diamonds as real in 2018.

 

How is a Lab Diamond different from Cubic Zirconia (CZ) and Moissanite?

Cubic Zirconia and Moissanite are diamond simulants. This means that although clear in color like a diamond, they are not the same chemical substance as a diamond. 

 

Lab Diamond vs Cubic Zirconia (CZ)

  • CZ is softer than Diamond, and will scratch with wear.

Cubic Zirconia (CZ) is a lab gem that was first made in 1976. There is no such thing as natural CZ. CZ can be completely colorless or a variety of colors. It is flawless. CZ produces more colored light (or “fire”) than diamond does, however it reflects less light in general. Importantly, CZ is nowhere near as hard as diamond. So, over time, CZ often develops unsightly scratches and wear. Diamond, on the other hand, is the hardest substance known to man, and will resist showing wear.

Lab Diamonds vs Moissanite

  • Like a firework, Moissanite sparkles WAY more than Diamond.

Moissanite can be natural, but it is rare. Instead, scientists create Moissanite for jewelry. At a hardness of 9.25/10, Moissanite is much harder than CZ, but still softer than 10/10 Diamond. Moissanite can be colorless and near colorless. It shows MUCH more colored sparkle (“fire”) than CZ or Diamond. For those looking for an alternative to a Natural Diamond, Moissanite’s hardness and sparkle make it a good engagement stone option to consider, along with Lab Diamonds.

 

What are the differences between Lab Diamonds vs Natural Diamonds?

Although there is no difference in appearance between high quality Natural Diamonds vs Lab Diamonds, there are big differences in cost, value, rarity, and sustainability.

The Look

  • High Quality Lab Diamonds and Natural Diamonds look exactly the same.
  • Lower clarity Lab Diamonds have a few inclusions that do not occur in Natural diamonds.

There is no difference in look between high quality Lab Diamonds vs Natural Diamonds. Both Natural and Lab Grown Diamonds can be colorless or near colorless. They both can also be a variety of candy colors. Likewise, both Lab Diamonds and Natural Diamonds come in all standard shapes such as round, princess, oval, marquise, pear, cushion, radiant, emerald, and asscher. The sparkle and brilliance of Lab and Natural Diamonds are the same. High Quality stones are identical in look. Lower clarity lab diamonds (those where inclusions are visible to the naked eye) may have different inclusions than their natural counterparts. This is discussed in more detail below.

comparison of natural diamond vs lab diamond engagement rings on a hand

Top: 1.71-carat natural diamond. | Bottom: 1.81-carat lab created diamond.

Lab Diamonds Price

  • Lab Diamonds cost much less than Natural Diamonds.

As you’d expect, Lab Diamonds cost significantly less than Natural Diamonds. This is because we depend upon Mother Nature to create Natural Diamonds, whereas we make our own Lab Diamonds. High quality Lab Grown Diamonds are fairly new. So, Lab Diamond prices have been changing a bit in the last few years. Currently, in a comparison between Lab Diamonds vs Natural Diamonds of similar size, cut, color, and clarity, a Lab Diamond is approximately 30-50% of the price of a Natural Diamond. For example, the stones shown above were listed at:

Type Shape Cut Color  Clarity Measurements Cost
Natural Round Excellent G VS2 6.63 x 6.68 x 4.14mm $7,713
Lab  Round Excellent G VS2 6.72 x 6.75 x 4.15mm $3,776

Value

  • The long-term value of Lab Diamonds is not yet settled.
  • High quality Natural Diamond values have stayed fairly consistent.

Because high quality Lab Diamonds are newcomers to jewelry, and new Lab Diamond brands are launching regularly, the long-term value of Lab Grown Diamonds is not yet settled. That is to say, in the future, technology could advance and Lab Diamond prices could decrease, lowering the value of previously sold Lab Diamonds. Or, on the other hand, as couples learn more about the benefits of Lab Diamonds, demand could rise, increasing values.

With the creation of Lab Diamonds, and the changing needs of millennials, demand for Natural Diamonds has decreased. However, with rising education on diamond grading, and the invention of diamond grading tools like ASET Scopes, the Natural Diamonds purchased today are of much higher quality than ever before. So, high quality Natural Diamond values have stayed fairly consistent.

round red diamond photo comparing idealscope and ASET

Idealscope VS ASET. (Photo by: YourDiamondTeacher)

Sustainability

  • Mining Natural Diamonds is not very sustainable.
  • Creating Lab Diamonds is more sustainable.

Natural Diamond is crystal-clear carbon mined from rock called “kimberlite” deep in the Earth. There is a lot of gossip about the actual rarity of diamonds. This confusion arises from the difference between “gem quality diamonds” and diamonds of lesser quality. True, there are many “industrial-drill-bit-quality” diamonds dug up every day. But we doubt that’s what you want on your finger. In reality, around 100,000 tons of rock has to be dug up and searched through to find a single crystal which could yield a 1.00ct D/Flawless diamond. As you can imagine, moving that much Earth on a regular basis to mine Natural Diamonds is not a very sustainable practice. This is one reason why Do Amore gives back with every diamond purchase.

diamond mine at sunset with grass in foreground

The richest diamond mine in the world, Jwaneng, in Botswana. (Photo by: DeBeers Group)

Creating diamonds in a lab, on the other hand, is much more sustainable. Lab Diamonds take between a week and a few months to grow, depending upon size and method. Scientists use common elements to create Lab Grown Diamonds. There are currently two methods of creating Lab Diamonds. In one method, scientists place natural graphite (like the carbon in your pencil tip!) in a large machine that crushes it with extreme pressure and temperature – just like the Earth does when it forms Natural Diamonds. This high pressure, high temperature (HPHT) process causes the graphite to turn into diamond. In the second and now more common method, CVD, scientists place a diamond “seed crystal” in a small chamber filled with common gases. When the gases are heated, they begin to form layer upon layer of carbon onto the seed crystal, making it grow.

Grading and Certification

  • Couples should choose GIA for Natural Diamond Certification.
  • Those seeking a Lab Diamond should choose GCAL or IGI for Certification.

Almost all gem labs grade Natural Diamonds on the D-Z color and FL-I3 clarity scales. Many gem labs grade Lab Diamonds differently, however.

As we discussed in our diamond certification post, for Natural Diamonds, we suggest choosing a GIA Certificate. However, because GIA does not grade Lab Diamonds on the same strict scale, and AGS does not grade Lab Grown Diamonds at all, Do Amore suggests choosing either a GCAL or an IGI USA Certificate for your Lab Diamond. Both GCAL and IGI use the same D-Z color scale and FL-I3 clarity scale for both Natural and Lab Diamonds. GCAL has a “zero tolerance” grading policy, and is a fairly strict grading lab. IGI USA, while not as strict, is more well known, and has more experience grading Lab Diamonds. Couples wanting strict grading should choose a GCAL Certificate. Couples that desire broad recognition should consider IGI.

lab diamond vs natural diamond comparison of two lab diamond certificates

An IGI certificate and a GCAL certificate.

Are Lab Diamonds flawless?

Not usually! Unlike flawless Cubic Zirconia (CZ) and Moissanite discussed above, Lab Diamonds, just like Natural Diamonds, typically have internal marks that gemologists call “inclusions.” These inclusions are a diamond’s birthmarks. Because Lab Diamonds are also crystal carbon, they have the same types of inclusions as Natural Diamonds, like feathers, clouds, and pinpoints. I am asked sometimes if I can tell real vs lab diamond by a stone’s inclusions. The answer is, sometimes.

Because of the way Lab Diamonds are made, certain Lab Grown Diamonds have small metallic inclusions and flux-like inclusions that mined diamonds do not. Also, due to the way some lab grown diamonds are laser engraved with their inscription, some lab diamonds also show reflections of their black certification number.

Examples of Lab Diamond Inclusions

Flux-like Inclusion (Round); Metallic Inclusion (Emerald); Inscription reflection (Pear)

Why do couples choose Lab Diamonds?

  • Couples choose Lab Diamonds because they are less expensive and sustainable.

Couples choose Lab Diamonds for a variety of reasons. Cost is king to many newly engaged couples. A big look for less money? Yes, please! As Lab Diamonds vs Natural Diamonds are indistinguishable, many couples feel there’s no reason to pay more money for a natural, mined stone.

Other couples like knowing that their Lab Diamond did not need to be mined from the Earth. This can be due to their preference that the Earth be left in its natural state, or because they want diamonds free from conflict.

Gemologist’s Note: Couples concerned about intense mining or questionable ethics may take comfort in knowing the lengths we go to in order to offer only the most sustainable and ethical Natural Diamonds on the market today. Do Amore goes a step further than the Kimberley Process by purchasing only from “Diamond Sightholders,” an elite group of diamond houses recognized for their well-established, outstanding ethical accountability and excellent reputation. We also proudly offer natural Canadian Mark and Recycled Diamonds for those wanting additional reassurances as to the ethics of their Natural Diamond. Click here for more about Do Amore’s commitment to conflict-free diamonds.

 

lab diamond oval engagement ring in yellow gold

A 2-carat oval lab diamond engagement ring.

Why do couples choose Natural Diamonds?

  • Couples choose Natural Diamonds because they are traditional, rare, and mysterious.

Like Lab Grown Diamonds, couples have different reasons for choosing Natural Diamonds. For some, it is a family tradition. Others really enjoy wearing something that is so rare. For many, it is the mystique that the Earth produced this clear, sparkly gemstone. These couples enjoy learning about the nuances of their specific stone, and how it could have formed that way. Finally, some couples feel it is a matter of value, and the consistency in Natural Diamond pricing is a comfort.

 

Will people know if I have a Lab Diamond?

Nope! Not unless you tell them, that is. There’s no visual difference between Lab Diamonds vs Natural Diamonds to the naked eye. So, can you tell real vs lab diamond? Not without a diamond lab in your back pocket!

Left: A 1.5 carat natural diamond engagement ring. | Right: A 1.5 carat lab diamond engagement ring.

Can you help me choose the right Lab Diamond?

Of course! I would love to discuss the benefits of Lab Diamonds vs Natural Diamonds with you and help you pick the perfect stone! Send me an email at [email protected] and we can start your Lab Diamond journey today!